Hanging the washing out to dry can be a real chore, but there is another way: the best tumble dryer speeds up laundry time and makes your clothes more luxuriant to the touch. Mmmm… Luxuriant. Now is the time to reclaim your indoor space from the tyranny of laundry and indulge in a tumble dryer.
Not sure which way to turn? No problem because we’ve done all the research for you and selected a tranche of very decent machines that come highly recommended by both users and pros.
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 a removable container that requires regular emptying, usually after every drying cycle.
Some condenser dryers can be a wee bit steamy, so it would be advisable to have a window open while it tumbles its tumbling thing. Or, if matters become more critical, invest in a dehumidifier.
Vented machines are cheaper to buy and use the same hot-air drying process. However, instead of using a water container, the moisture is pumped directly out into the open air via either an outlet positioned precisely for that task (in newer builds) or via what can only be described as a dirty great hole drilled into the outside wall, for older domiciles.
Obviously, this system can require professional installation and a particular location area near an electricity outlet. However, it does have two major plusses: you never have to empty a water tank and the walls of your utility room will remain pleasingly un-moist.
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.
It's important to clear the lint filters of tumble dryers, but the most important thing when buying a tumble dryer is to check online lists of product recalls.
That's because certain models over the last decade have proven to have a tendency to burst into flames. None of those are still on sale, of course, and we'd like to hope that brands have now put their houses in order in terms of newer machines, but it's worth keeping abreast of, for very obvious reasons.
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 German family-run company’s proved itself with award-winning machines that are efficient, extremely well made and extraordinarily reliable.
That holds true here, with our pick being the Miele TDA 150 C, a tumble dryer that’s said to present clothing in unruffled form while smelling of roses.
The handsome looking AEG 8000 Series (T8DEC946R) is also highly recommended, as is its cheaper less attractive sibling, the T65170AV.
But if you're on a really tight budget and require a decent condenser dryer for less that £220, then the new Beko DTKCE80021W is well worth consideration.
The following are our favourite tumble dryers, in order of how warmly we feel about them.
The best tumble dryers money can buy
This sensational, top-selling, German-made condenser dryer has garnered a Which? Best Buy award and a veritable cornucopia of five-star reviews from a multitude of contented John Lewis buyers. If that’s not a reason for investigation we don’t know what is.
Unlike old-school dryers, this one doesn’t have a circular glass portal. Instead, it comes with a large flat white door that, while not remotely attractive, allows the opening to be more rectangular – and that makes it easier to stuff in large items like duvets and other ungainly items.
The same honeycomb structure Miele uses for its washing machine drums is also employed here. In this instance the idea is that the drum’s hexagonal dimples mean the laundry hovers on a cushion of air, reducing creases in the process. Certainly, stuff does seem to come out pleasingly unrumpled by tumble dryer standards.
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 whiff. Ah!
The white version of this dryer – this graphite version is exclusive to Curry’s – is currently topping the Good Housekeeping Institute’s ratings by a big margin, and no wonder: it’s a very clever machine that uses lower temperatures for better results and longer lasting fabrics.
Despite a massive 9Kg light-duvet-friendly drum it delivers A plus plus energy performance, and an unusual filter design means it’s much quicker to clean than other heat pump dryers. There’s even a pop-in drying rack that you can use for delicate items such as trainers that you don’t want to stick on a radiator.
It’s a really good machine with the ability to dry small loads in just 35 seconds, and the reviews are unanimously positive. You can either plumb it in or use its internal tank. Given the small size of the latter, we suggest the former, especially if you tend to dry a lot of towels and duvets.
Granted, the new Beko DTKCE80021W won’t win any prizes for looks but you are unlikely to find a more efficient condenser dryer for the sub-£220 asking price. At least, that’s the overall consensus among its current users.
The 8kg DTKCE80021W is a great dryer for families on a tight budget. It comes with sensor-controlled drying, an extra large portal behind the admittedly ugly façade and 15 drying programmes that cover a wide range of fabrics – from cottons, jeans and sportswear to delicates and synthetics. It also features three speedy drying cycles for those in a rush, the quickest taking just 10 minutes to complete.
This machine is also equipped with a drain hose which bypasses the obligatory waste water tank. This is an exceedingly handy feature to have because, despite the unquestionable practicality of having a machine that automatically dries your clothes, it’s always a bit of a hassle having to empty the water container after every fully-loaded drying session.
The vast majority of users seem very satisfied with their purchase, citing the Beko’s excellent drying performance, overall quietness and easy-peasy interface. Worth checking out.
If you have an outlet for a tumble dryer installed, or don’t mind paying to have a hole punched through your outside wall, 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.
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.
Granted, having something this ugly in your laundry area isn't ideal, but if you have a utility room to put it in, nobody’s going to see it, are they?
The John Lewis & Partners JLTDH24 tumble dryer occupies a middle ground area that comes with plenty of other options model-wise. But it’s definitely a contender. It’s essentially a successor to the very popular John Lewis & Partners JLTDH23 tumble dryer, and this model update continues to impress with its range of features and functions.
Indeed, the program options on this appliance are many and varied, with 12 in all that include Cottons Eco, Cottons, Synthetics, Delicates, Bed Linen, Duvet, Mix Denim, Sport, Wool, Silk and, phew, Refresh. In other words, you’ll find something to suit whatever you’ve got fresh from the washing machine, hand wash or, perhaps, a torrential downpour that you need to get dry.
As with the previous model, the JLTDH24 comes with a reasonably capacious 8kg capacity and a sizeable front door for easy loading. We also like the practical, some might say simplistic styling on the front control area. The easy-to-use dial and a refreshingly clear digital display lets you know what’s happening with the drying process, which is really all you need to know.
That’s particularly handy when the machine is using Reverse Plus to finish off your latest dry by tossing them backwards and forwards. It helps reduce creasing you see.
While the John Lewis & Partners JLTDH24 tumble dryer is obviously going to use energy the appliance comes with an A+ rating, so it’s up there with the better models in terms of efficiency. We’re also impressed with the smooth, quiet operation of this unit. A child lock and delay start of up to 24 hours are bonus points, especially as the latter option lets you use the machine during off-peak hours.
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. However, it also extends the life of said clobber and it’s superbly energy efficient, too.
ProSense tech adjusts run time and energy used to suit the size of the load, up to a substantial 8kg maximum capacity. The 8000 Series is not cheap, granted, but you get what you pay for here, as your parents used to say. Pay half, buy twice, etcetera.
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. It's got a decent sized opening and the door opens very wide for easy access. Owners 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 Bosch’s huge 9kg drum is also ideal for large families, but please note that, perhaps as a result, the machine’s depth measurement is a centimetre or two greater than other models at 65.2cm. Bear that in mind when considering where to locate it.
The majority of current owners report that this machine dries clothes very well and often before the predicted time suggests. However, we have also read a few reviews by unhappy owners who say that their laundry – particularly bend linen – comes out tangled and damp. However, negative reviews remain few and far between and most current users seem very happy with their purchase.