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All You Need to Know About Buying a Tumble Dryer

There’s nothing more unreliable than the British weather to let you down. You might have put a load of washing on ready to hang out in that bright sunshine, but you can guarantee by the time it’s finished, dark clouds would have covered the sky and the heavens will have opened.

So if you’ve got space in your kitchen, or are lucky enough to have a separate utility room, then a tumble dryer can be a very useful addition to your household.

If you’re looking to buy a washing machine or purchase a washer-dryer, then you can find out more about those in our separate guides below.

See also:

But if you’re ready to rumble with a tumble – whether buying one along with a new washing machine, replacing a broken model or simply getting yours for the first time – there are a few key questions to ask.

We’ve set them out below as well as some useful explanations of the more complicated jargon terms you may come across.

Should I not just buy a washer-dryer?

Many people ask this question and it’s the right initial one to consider. You must remember however, that a combined appliance will be less energy efficient than two separates, often provides less features and will obviously be more time consuming as you can’t wash and dry simultaneously.

Won’t it cost me a lot of money in electric?

Of course, if you have your tumble on frequently, rather than relying on nature to dry your clothes, it will cost you – but many cost less than you think with more and more A or A+ models on the market such as those from Miele, Bosch, Siemens, Hotpoint and Candy.

These letters show how energy efficient they are and can go down to as low as D and while these A-rated models may be more expensive as an initial outlay, they will save you money over time on your bills.

What type of tumble dryer is best?

There are two main types of tumble dryer:


These models can be placed anywhere in a room as they do not need a hose running out of the back of the machine and through an outside wall.

All the water and moisture extracted from the drying process is then collected in a tray or bottle, which is usually hidden. You simply empty it each time you use the dryer.

Hoover have a model that collects water in the door, to make it easier to access and empty. You can also see when it’s full.


Unlike a condenser, these vented units as the name suggests need an air vent. Therefore, you must place them against an outside wall and drill a hole through to poke the machine’s hose attachment out of. The hose then removes the hot, damp air created by the drying process.

You could poke the hose through an open window each time you use it but this isn’t always practical.

What features should I look for?

There are a variety of basic common settings on tumble dryers such as controlling the level of heat for different materials. Normally two settings are standard.

But as you move up the price range, a number of useful features are added. They include:

Sensor Drying

This can save you up to 50% energy. The tumble dryer senses when all the moisture has been removed and then stops, rather than wasting more electricity by needlessly continuing until the end of the program. Many machines with this have different levels of dryness for you to choose from including cupboard dry and iron dry.

Crease Reduction

On top-of-the-range appliances, some change the temperature during the process so that your clothes emerge needing less ironing or vary the spin process to remove creases.

Delayed Start

As the name suggests, you can set the machine to come on at a later time, so it’s finished when you return home from work.

Airing Cycle

This provides a fast dry to give clothes a quick freshen up.


If you’ve got a lot of jumpers, this will stop them shrinking when they’re being dried.

What size do I need?

Tumble dryers come in two sizes; compact which are usually 3kg in capacity and standard size, which is the same size as a washing machine

Tumble dryers have to incorporate larger drums than a washing machine to ensure there’s enough room for the hot air to flow around. You can buy capacities between 6kg and 10kg with 8kg a popular choice for the average family.

Anything else I should know?

Most tumble dryers will have a filter that collects the lint and fluff from drying, this needs to be cleaned regularly. Also for a tumble dryer to run at peak efficiency, the condenser unit, usually at the bottom of the machine (on a condenser tumble dryer), needs to be kept clean which on most machines means it needs to be cleaned by hand.

On the Bosch EcoLogixx model the condenser is self-cleaning so that you don’t have to do it and it maintains maximum efficiency.

They can also be noisy so check the decibel level on the energy-rating sticker.

You will also find a good choice between simple dial controls and those using a small screen and buttons to select programs and their length.

But remember, not all clothes can be tumble-dried, however good the machine is. Always look at the label to be sure.

Jargon Buster

  • Reverse Tumble -The process of the machine’s drum spinning in the opposite direction at times during the program to separate clothes and ensure they dry evenly. It also helps loose creases
  • Condensing – A tumble dryer that doesn’t use a hose and instead stores the moisture and water created in a separate chamber
  • Vented – A tumble dryer featuring a hose out of the back that must be placed through an outside wall or open window
  • EST-rated – A tumble dryer recommended by the Energy Saving Trust as being efficient in terms of the electricity it uses

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