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How to Dry Clothes Quickly

When you don’t have a tumble drier getting clothes dried quickly can be hard.

We’ve all had that panic of realising our kids have no clean school uniform or that shirt you wanted to wear for work is dirty.

Sure you can bung it in the washing machine and get it clean, but how do you dry it in a hurry?

Looking for more handy household money-saving tips?
Check out:

What’s the Cheapest Way to Dry Clothes Inside?
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Here are our top tips on…

How To Dry Clothes Quickly

When you’re looking for the fastest way to dry clothes, the first thing to bear in mind is what fabric the item you need to dry is made from.

If it is very delicate and hand wash only then you should treat the item with special care and choose from the following tips carefully.

However, if the item is made from cotton or man-made fibre then it should be possible to use the following tips and get the item dried in anything from 20 minutes to a couple of hours.

Drying method Time taken
Extra spin 15 mins
Use the hairdryer 20 mins
Iron dry 20 mins
Roll in a towel 1 hr+
Heated airer 2 hrs
On the radiator 2 hrs
Dry inside 2-4 hrs
Dry inside + dehumidifier 2-4 hrs

An extra spin

First things first: you want to remove as much water from the item as possible and the most efficient way to do this is in the washing machine.

All washing cycles end with a spin cycle but some are more efficient than others. In your quest to get your clothes dry quickly your first step should be to give it an extra spin cycle in the washing machine.

Time taken: c. 15 minutes

A photo of clothes drying - a pair of jeans on a hanger set out to dry

Roll in a towel

When I do hand-washing on my nice woolly jumpers I don’t like to risk them getting out of shape by giving them a spin in the washing machine.

Instead I gently wring most of the water out of them using a towel.

If you have no extra spin cycle on your washing machine or need to dry delicate items quickly then this is a great way to get rid of most of the excess moisture and get them dried more quickly.

  1. Simply select a large bath towel and lay it flat on the floor.
  2. Lay your wet item of clothing flat on top of the towel and then slowly roll the towel up with the item inside.
  3. Exert a fair bit of pressure as you roll (once it is in a sausage shape I use my knees to press all along it (and usually end up with wet knees!).
  4. Once you’ve done this, simply unroll the towel and your item should be significantly drier.
  5. You can then hang it out on the washing line or clothes airer and it will dry a lot more quickly than usual.

Time taken: 2 minutes to roll in towel (plus anything from 1 to 4 hours to finish it off)

Sunny days

If it is a sunny day and you have a clothes line outside then that is always the best option as the water will evaporate off into the atmosphere and the wind will make your clothes nice and fresh.

On a good drying day and if you have done an extra spin or a towel dry first then a cotton shirt could be dry in as little as 1 hour.

Time taken: 1 to 4 hours depending on material

No garden? No problem!

Clothes airers can be relatively cheaply purchased and are a handy way to hang out your washing indoors.

There are numerous different designs depending on your budget and requirements, from a standard traditional folding airer like this one:

To a larger more fancy winged version such as this one:

You can also get brilliant airers which you can hang from a high ceiling – perfect if you’re short of indoor space but have a utility room or space in your bathroom or kitchen, like this:

A photo of clothes hanging from a ceiling airer to dry

Or if you are really pushed for space these little clothes-peg airers are great for drying your smalls:

Socks pegged out to dry on a small clothes airer

The key things to remember when using a clothes horse inside are:

  1. Spread – make sure you spread out the clothes as much as possible, an overloaded airer will take a lot longer to dry clothes as the air cannot circulate.
  2. Locate – ideally you need a warm and well-ventilated area as the moisture from the clothes will evaporate into your home and if you have no windows open it will only come back to haunt you as condensation.
  3. Hide – they are ugly. If you can hide it away, as it is not a great look to have wet laundry in the dining room.

In the summer we keep our airer in the conservatory where it gets really hot and on a good day washing is dry within about 4 hours.

In the winter we keep ours inside and it takes about 24 to 48 hours to get a load of washing dry, so if you’re looking for speed this is not optimum, but read on for ways to speed this up.

How to speed up drying on a clothes airer

One simple method to speed along drying on your airer is to site the airer next to a nice toasty radiator.

Bear in mind that you need to have a window cracked open when doing this as you want the evaporated water to vent outside not inside.

Another method is to invest in a dehumidifier.

A photo of some clothes on a clothes horse airer drying next to a dehumidifier

If you invest in a basic one such as this it will set you back about £100:

This one is a bit more expensive but is almost three times as powerful (so will suck in more moisture, more quickly) and it has added features like a timer (so it won’t just run all day whilst you’re out):

If you place one of these next to your washing it should greatly speed up the process by drawing the water away.

As an added bonus it will prevent condensation building up as it whisks the water away so it can be poured down the sink.

Dehumidifiers cost about 4p an hour to run so this method will add a little to your electricity bill.

Time taken: 2 to 4 hours.

Heated airers

Another method to dry clothes more quickly inside is to invest in a heated airer.

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These are just like a normal clothes horse except you plug them in and the rails become warm, speeding up the drying of clothes.

Depending on the model they cost between 4p-6p an hour to run.

As with all methods in this guide, remember to place them in a well-ventilated space to prevent damp.

To speed up the process even further you can also invest in a special cover to keep the heat in like this (or – for a more budget option – just use a duvet cover or large towel).

For a full load of washing it takes about 6 to 8 hours to fully dry. However to dry one item in a hurry you could lie it flat across the bars and then it can take as little as 2 hours.

For more on the cost of drying your clothes inside check out our post on what’s the cheapest way to dry clothes indoors?

The Radiator

If you are just drying one piece of clothing laying it across the radiator will speed up the process. Make sure you keep turning it over to get even coverage.

This same technique can be employed by putting clothes in the airing cupboard and wrapping them round your hot water tank.

Time taken: 2 hours.

Hair dryer

This is not good for the planet or a practical long term solution.

However, if you need to get one item dry in super quick time then blow-drying it is a good speedy option.

If possible hang the item as flat as possible on a hanger (this works best for a shirt or top) and then put your hair dryer on its hottest setting and methodically blast your way across the fabric.

Do not hold it too close to the fabric or you will risk burning it.

Time taken: Depending on size but about 20 minutes

Iron dry

Again you would not want to do a whole load like this but if you want to dry one item in a hurry then the iron is your friend.

This works best with things like cotton shirts or jeans and on the upside you get nice crease-free clothes at the end. And a decent iron needn’t cost a fortune – as these examples from Amazon show:

You can just straight-up iron the item until it is dry (as the water will evaporate as steam) but a more efficient method is to lay a thin towel over the top of the item and iron it through that.

That way the moisture will be drawn into the towel rather than into the air. Only downside is that you are left with a wet towel – but if you’re ironing a top for a big night out who cares? Stick the towel on the clothes horse to dry in it’s own sweet time!

Time taken: Depending on size but about 20 minutes

Conclusion

If you have just one item of clothing to get dry in a rush your best bet is to give it an extra spin in the washing machine (or use the towel technique) and then get busy with a hair dryer or an iron as this would take about 30 minutes in total.

With a little more time to spare, if you have a bit longer, do the extra spin and then hang it out in the sun (or in the winter pop it on a heated airer or radiator) as that would take about 2.5 hours to get a single item dry.

If you have a full load to dry quickly the quickest method on a sunny day is probably to hang it outside and in winter to hang it on an airer with a dehumidifier next to it.

But please never try putting clothes in the oven or microwave, this will likely result in setting your clothes on fire or damaging them irreparably.

Do you have a method to dry clothes quickly or any advice for our readers? Please share your ideas and tips in the comments below!

Last update on 2021-09-17 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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