Tumble dryer vs dehumidifier – which one is cheaper for drying clothes?

Drying your clothes is trickier in the winter so we’ve looked at a couple of alternatives to the washing line, a dehumidifier and tumble dryer - to find out which one is cheaper

Dehumidifier vs tumble dryer
(Image credit: Getty Images / Future PLC)

A British winter is not the best time for drying clothes outside or in our homes, a tumble dryer or dehumidifier can help –  but which is cheaper? 

Energy bills have already skyrocketed and have households searching for ways to cut energy costs, and the bad news is energy costs are set to rise again from April 2023. 

So it’s a good idea to make an effort to save energy where you can. 

We found out whether it is cheaper to use a dehumidifier or tumble dryer.

Tumble dryer vs dehumidifier – we run the tests

How much does it cost to run a dehumidifier?

Standing dehumidifier on the floor while woman and cat sit on a sofa in the background

(Image credit: Getty images)

When it comes to how much does a dehumidifier cost to run, our sister site Goodto.com crunched the numbers and found it costs around 8.5p an hour to run a typical 250W dehumidifier.

According to ChooseDehumidifier, how long you leave a dehumidifier on depends on the humidity levels in the room, the temperature and the amount of moisture in the room. 

So, if you were to leave it on for an average of 12 hours per day it would cost you £1.02 per day and £20.40 per month. This is under the assumption that you run it five times a week. 

These calculations are based on the current Kwh price of 0.34p. If you own a smart meter, that will give you a good indication of how much energy is being used when your dehumidifier is on too. 

But it will take longer for clothes to dry compared to a tumble dryer and you’ll need space to hang your clothes out indoors in a room with a dehumidifier.

There are two types of dehumidifiers: refrigerant and desiccant.

Refrigerant dehumidifier - Commonly used in warm conditions, in heated homes. It doesn’t work as well in cooler temperatures. 

Desiccant dehumidifier - Works well in cooler conditions like in a conservatory, and it absorbs water from the air.

So if you’re drying clothes in your home, a refrigerant dehumidifier is your best bet. 

The main reason households usually invest in a dehumidifier is to reduce dampness and moisture in the air, which is very common when drying wet clothes indoors. 

Damp and moisture cause mould and removal of mould can cost a house hundreds of pounds – not to mention the bad health effects on the respiratory system, according to mould prevention technology, Wolviic

CEO of Wolviic, Jigna Varu said: “Indoor air quality is already known to be ten times worse than outdoors, and drying clothes inside is only going to make it the perfect conditions for mould to grow.”

See more

Some dehumidifiers come with an energy efficiency setting which means once it’s reached its desired level, it will switch off by itself. For example, this ElectriQ dehumidifier from AppliancesDirect has a timer feature and a smart mode which maintains the best humidity level. 

Dehumidifiers are pricey as the ElectriQ dehumidifier costs £129.98 and they aren’t a permanent solution for mould growth says Jigna, but “dehumidifiers can reduce the risk of mould and can act as a short-term solution,” she adds.

Experts told our sister site Ideal Home how to use a dehumidifier properly and effectively:

  • Dehumidifier manufacturer Chris Michael told Ideal Home that people should opt for a compressor dehumidifier and clean the filter monthly with a fibre cloth, so it doesn’t get clogged up.
  • He also recommends doing your research before buying. Things to look out for are a timer setting for drying clothes which turns off after 6 hours, and checking how much energy it uses (the wattage) so you’re aware of its running costs. 
  • The dehumidifier should be placed at least 20cm away from the wall and away from drafty doors or windows so the dehumidifier runs efficiently, brand manager from Duux, Chloe King says. 
  • If you open the window to try to get rid of moisture, this will only work if it is colder outside than it is inside, in temperature. 
  • Product manager at Russel Hobbs, Marc Duckworth told Ideal Home that the placing of the dehumidifier is the most common mistake. It needs to be placed nearest to the damp area/ nearest to where the damp is coming from. So if it’s drying clothes, then place it nearby. 
  • To dry clothes quickly, you should position the dehumidifier so that the air that comes out of the machine moves the clothes, rather than the other way around where the filters face the clothes.

How much does it cost to run a tumble dryer?

Person removing clothes from a tumble dryer

(Image credit: Getty images)

In line with the current 0.34p kWh, based on an 8kg load it costs around £91.80 and £198.90 to run. But it really depends on the model of the tumble dryer, how powerful it is, the energy rating and its weight. 

You can find out more about how much it costs to run a tumble dryer with the three specific types: Heat pump, condenser and vented. 

The great thing about tumble dryers is that they are marked with an energy efficiency rating, A being the most efficient and G being the least. This also helps factor the cost of buying one.

If you don’t already have a tumble dryer, investing in one can be expensive. For example this Bosch tumble dryer from Argos costs £729 so it’s on the higher end of the market, but it is A++ rated so it’s worthwhile for the energy saving. 

But you can drop a level in energy rating and opt for a more affordable choice like this B rated BEKO tumble dryer from Currys. It costs £249, £480 less than the A++ rated one and it still has a relatively good energy rating. 

As a tumble dryer comes under kitchen appliances, you can cut the costs of running one. Some energy providers are paying their customers to run appliances at off peak hours, so you could cut costs by running the tumble dryer overnight. 

Other small factors like running full loads only, cleaning the lint filter and untangling garments can also cut tumble dryer running costs.

See more

The verdict

If - like most households - your budget is tight, investing in a dehumidifier is a good option to consider as it is cheaper to buy and run than a tumble dryer.

Make sure you do your research when purchasing one and take note of the tips on the most efficient way to use a dehumidifier. 

But it won’t dry clothes as quickly and you’ll need the space to hang your clothes out in a room indoors.

Not only that, it comes with a lot more benefits when it comes to indoor air quality and saving you money on mould removal. 

If you do end up using a dehumidifier in the long term then don’t forget about mould, as it only acts as a short-term remedy. 

And if you’re a household that already has a tumble dryer then don’t wash that money away by not using it, as there are ways to cut costs with eco modes and energy-saving features.

Related articles

Vaishali Varu
Staff Writer

Vaishali graduated in journalism from Leeds University. She has gained experience writing local stories around Leeds and Leicester, which includes writing for a university publication and Leicester Mercury. 

She has also done some marketing and copywriting for businesses.

When she is not writing about personal finance, Vaishali likes to travel and she's a foodie.