Hanging the washing out to dry can be a real chore. But there is another way: A tumble dryer speeds up laundry time and makes your clothes more luxuriant to the touch. Mmmm… Luxuriant.
How to buy a tumble dryer
There have long been two types of dryer: condenser and vented. Condenser dryers are the most popular and the easiest to install. They work by condensing the moisture collected during the hot air drying process and porting it as water to either a removable container that requires regular emptying, usually after every drying cycle.
Condenser dryers can be a bit steamy, so extra room ventilation is advised.
A vented machine uses the same hot-air drying process, only the moisture is pumped directly out, via your plumbing.
This system usually requires professional installation and a particular location area near an outlet, but does have two major plusses: you never have to empty a water tank and the walls of your utility room won't become coated in mould.
Nowadays, those seeking the cutting-edge of tumbler tech should look for a heat pump machine. These re-circulate warm air, saving energy and hence cost. Which is just as well, as you'll need to save up to buy one.
Most modern tumble dryers are automatic; that is to say they use sensors that measure the amount of moisture in the clothing and switch off once they’re dry.
And gone are the days when dryers were power drains – most of these are expert energy-conservers.
What is the best tumble dryer?
If you can afford it, we'd always advise you make Miele your first port of call for many of your domestic appliances.
Time and again, the company’s proved itself with award-winning machines that are efficient, extremely well made and highly reliable.
That holds true here, with our pick being Miele's TMB 340 WP Eco.
The newer AEG 8000 Series (T8DEC946R), which boasts much of the same tech, and an emphasis on caring for your clobber is also highly recommended.
At the cheaper end of the scale, the same brand's T65170AV vented dryer is a bargain, although it is one of the ugliest bits of kit you'll ever allow in your house.
The following are our favourite tumble dryers, in order of how warmly we feel about them.
The best tumble dryers money can buy
1. Miele TMB 340 WP Eco
The best tumble dryer (quite a lot of) money can buy
This magnificent A+ rated condenser dryer uses a heat pump to reheat the air that’s circulating within its 8kg drum. During the clothes drying process, moist hot air passes through a filter where it is cooled, turning it into condensation.
This condensed water is then deposited into the removable water tank or you can have it pumped to the nearest waste water pipe. The cooled dry air, meanwhile, is re-heated by the heat pump and re-circulated back into the drum. Apparently, this circular method of drying can dramatically reduce running costs in the long term.
The same honeycomb structure Miele uses for its washing machine drums is also employed here. In this instance the drum’s hexagonal dimples ensure that the laundry hovers on a cushion of air, reducing creases in the process.
This particular model also features FragranceDos. Simply top up the perfume dispenser inside the door with one of Miele’s five scented liquids (£10.49 for up to 50 drying cycles) and your laundry is infused with a pleasant pong.
2. AEG T65170AV
Best tumble dryer for tighter budgets
If you don’t mind having a hole punched through your outside wall, and don't mind having something this ugly in your utility room (well, nobody's going to see it, are they?) then this vented dryer makes perfect sense
There's never a need to empty the water reservoir between drying sessions with a vented machine, as all moisture is pumped outside through a 10cm pipe. Another major plus with vented dryers is that they don’t produce any interior condensation so extra room ventilation isn’t necessary. Just be sure you have the right plumbing.
The AEG has a huge glassless door leading to its ample 7kg drum and comes equipped with the usual variety of drying programs, from heavy-weight fabrics to woollens and delicates. In terms of efficiency, it does the deed exceedingly well and it’s quiet, too.
3. AEG 8000 Series T8DEC946R
Best tumble dryer for energy efficiency
A very direct rival to the Miele, this also boasts a heat pump and has the ability to dry wool and silk garments, without reducing them to a tiny and tangled parody of their former selves.
It does this by holding the precious garments against the wall of the drum, so they aren't being bumped about, and drying at comparatively low temperatures. That does mean a slightly longer time before your clobber is ready, but also extends the life of said clobber, and superb energy efficiency.
ProSense tech adjusts run time and energy used to to suit the size of the load, up to a mega 9kg maximum capacity.
The 8000 Series is not cheap, granted, but you get what you pay for here.
4. Bosch Serie 8 WTW87560GB
Best tumble dryer for allergy sufferers
If you’re an allergy sufferer, consider this pricy-to-buy but cheap-to-run heat pump condenser from the house of Bosch. The appliance’s Allergy+ cycle is said to remove 99% of allergens like animal hair and pollen.
The Bosch also dries clothes very well and often before the predicted time suggests. What’s more, most fabrics come out of the machine so lightly fluffed that they can be worn pretty much straight from the dryer.
It’s not the quietest tumbler in the pack but if it's tucked away in a utility room, chances are you’ll still never hear it.
It's got a decent sized opening and the door opens very wide for easy access. We also love the bright interior light that switches on for the first few seconds of the cycle.
The Serie 8 comes with the usual range of cycle options including woollens, mixed load, towels, sportswear, down and a Super Quick 40 minute bash for those hurried times.
The huge, 9kg drum is ideal for large families, but the machine’s depth measurement is a centimetre or two greater than other models at 65.2cm; bear that in mind when locating it.
5. Beko DCR9316
Decent budget dryer from Turkey
Turkey's Beko (a subsidiary of Arcelik and Koc Holding, as we never tire of mentioning) specialises in low-priced appliances that are well built and mostly well liked by owners.
This B-rated condenser dryer is surprisingly impressive.
Put it this way: you wouldn’t expect a 9kg drum at this price. Nor would you expect full sensor-controlled drying, a reverse action drum, an interior light and such a swish electronic control panel.
Really, the only thing going against this machine is its lower energy efficiency. And maybe the brand name.
The Beko is large enough for a family of five, runs quietly, has a child lock and an easy-to-empty water tank, and it handles all garments from cottons, towels and synthetics to jeans, sport items and delicates. A cracking budget buy.
6. LG Gentle & Cozy RC7066A2Z
Best tumble dryer with an app
This handsome, feature-filled 7kg condenser model dries laundry quicker than most but it does use more electricity in the process, and it can be a little too overzealous on the drying front with some lighter items.
The LG features two way tumbling which greatly reduces tangling. That said, if you’re drying a duvet cover (especially a double), button it up first because no amount of two-way tumbling will prevent an unbuttoned duvet from tying itself up in knots. This applies to all tumble dryers; I just thought I'd mention it here.
The LG comes with the usual gamut of drying programs, including wool, skin care and sportswear. It also features an optional shoe rack that slots easily into the drum and prevents trainers from banging about and disturbing the peace. And fear not should something go awry, because the machine connects to a smartphone app for easy troubleshooting.
7. Zanussi LINDO300 ZDC8202P
Solid, no-frills tumble dryer
For the price, this Italian condenser unit ticks many a box. True, it’s only rated a B on the energy efficiency scale, but it's also cheap enough to probably outweigh the extra cost in electricity use.
The Zanussi is equipped with a large 8kg drum and is very good at collecting moisture and porting it to the container instead of all over the utility room’s walls.
It’s also one of the fastest drying machines here – all done in about 80 minutes, in most cases – and one of the most efficient.
We especially rate its Easy Iron programme, which leaves clothing just the right side of damp and with very few creases. If you’re on a tight budget and not too worried about energy consumption, give this smart budget choice a whirl.