How to dry clothes indoors without a dryer: 12 expert tips and tricks

No tumble dryer? No problem. We break down how to dry clothes indoors more effectively during winter

collage of laundry room images to support a guide on how to dry clothes indoors during the winter
(Image credit: Future)

Knowing how to dry clothes indoors is all-important during the colder months as laundry can quickly become damp if it's left for too long in cool conditions.

Drying clothes and household linens during summer months is much easier as your homes and garden are naturally warmer so clothes can air dry quickly. However, in the cooler winter temperatures, drying clothes outside just simply isn't an option for many and clothes can take longer to dry inside too. 

Despite best efforts to keep homes warmer in winter, it still poses a problem when you don't own a dryer or feel reluctant to crank the heating up to do the laundry.

Drying racks can also be clunky and take up a lot of space, which isn't great if you're a fan of a clutter-free home. And no matter how often you clean your house, racks of laundry are the quickest way to make the place look untidy. 

We chatted to experts in laundry care who explained how you can dry your laundry at home in winter - and fast.

How to dry your clothes indoors without a dryer

From making a DIY drying pod to using a fan, these tips are genius for drying washing indoors more efficiently during winter.

1. Remove excess water with an extra spin

Laundry being removed from washing machine after a drying spin to remove excess moisture to aid how to dry clothes indoors quickly

(Image credit: Future)

Rather than immediately removing your laundry load once the cycle has finished Lynsey Crombie, a cleaning expert and best-selling author advises carrying out a further rinse cycle. 

"Before emptying your washing machine give it an extra spin," she says. "This normally takes 10 minutes but will remove a lot of the excess water and speed up drying time." 

2. Hang garments from curtain rails

Utilize curtain poles as alternative clothes hanging rails. These provide the ideal place to hang out fresh laundry with immediate access to airflow from open windows to speed up drying times. Many curtain rails benefit also from the warm radiators below which provide rising heat to speed up drying times.

"Pop clothes on clothes hangers and hang them on your curtain rail in bedrooms and spare rooms and they will dry within the day," says Lynsey. "You can also use your shower rail for this purpose too," made all the warmer if there's a heated towel rail nearby.

Hanging clothes on hangers also reduces the risk of stubborn creases, making the task of ironing quicker.

3. Remove cold air and moisture with a dehumidifier

Navy blue bedroom with dehumidifier to suggest how to dry clothes indoors quickly

(Image credit: Meaco)

A dehumidifier is good for drying clothes indoors more efficiently."Use a dehumidifier as these collect the moisture and dry clothing indoors quicker than air drying," advises Lynsey. 

Chris Michael from Meaco breaks down how dehumidifiers work to explain why they are a useful drying aid, adding that "dehumidifiers reduce the level of humidity by sucking in air from the room, removing the moisture, and then blowing the warm, dry air back into the room again.

"This can help to remove the ‘damp chill’ factor in the air, so the central heating could run at a lower temperature or even be switched off. It will help you dry your laundry and prevent condensation from forming on the windows and mould from growing on the walls, your clothes, and furniture.

"Dehumidifiers are not only effective at drying washing indoors, they use considerably less electricity than tumble dryers. They can cost as little as 8p per hour to run," Chris adds. "Look for the best dehumidifiers with a dedicated laundry mode where the machine runs up to six hours before switching itself off to save energy."

Don't mistake an air purifier for a dehumidifier; they are often compared but are two different things. Also, consider how much it costs to run a dehumidifier to calculate your energy usage.

Chris Michael

Chris Michael is the expert co-founder of Meaco. Since its launch in 1991, Meaco has become a leading UK provider of air treatment products and the brand’s products have won a wealth of industry and design awards internationally.

4. Invest in a heated airer

“A heated drying rack reduces drying time significantly. I love the Lakeland Deluxe three-tier that fits two wash loads at one time," says Kathryn Lord, organizing expert and founder of More to Organising

"To dry as much as possible at the same time I use hangers for dresses and jackets, which also helps creases drop out and means less ironing." Just be mindful not to overload your drying rack with heavy materials like denim because the amount you dry could adversely affect the drying time.

While there's no doubt a heated clothes airer is one of the best solutions, it does involve running costs. To help you budget Lynsey explains, "using a heated clothes airer averages roughly between 11p and 15p per hour to run and clothes normally dry within a few hours." Just bear in mind that heavier materials will take longer to dry than lighter fabrics. 

5. Create your own drying pod

The most efficient way to dry clothes faster indoors is by using a heated element to speed up the drying process. But if buying a heated airer or drying pod is not within budget why not create your own DIY solution? 

You can create an air-drying pod by throwing a bedsheet over the frame of your airer and tucking it down the back of a heated towel rail that may still be on. This should essentially create a cocoon around your washing, enabling it to dry quicker. Just note that you won't be able to dry anything on the top rack of your airer because the bedsheet will be immediately on top of it.

You can also place a sheet on top of your heated dryer, which will have the same effect. "There is an option to buy a cover for my heated clothes airer to keep the heat in but I just use a fitted sheet over the top to help," says Kathryn. 

6. Load your clothes dryers efficiently

Tea towels drying on a clothes rack indoors beside an AGA

(Image credit: Future)

A classic clothes dryer becomes more effective by simply giving more thought to how you load it and where it's positioned. "Drying clothes inside is gentler on fabrics than tossing and tumbling in a dryer and prevents static cling," says laundry expert Deyan Dimitrov, CEO of Laundryheap.

"Place items on a drying rack away from walls to prevent the moisture from being trapped. Hang items individually and with as much space in between them as possible so they are surrounded by more air and will dry more quickly." 

If you have a large kitchen then it's also worth placing your rail here after using the oven to make the most of the warmth. Just make sure you have enough space to distance the rail from the hot oven. 

7. Rotate and alternate to dry quicker

In addition to not overloading your airer, it's also important to rotate your laundry to expose damp areas and increase airflow to aid with the drying process. 

Simply keep an eye on the items while they are drying looking out for signs of any remaining obvious signs of moisture, and moving them accordingly to expose those patches to better airflow.

8. Create a warmer environment without heating

"Making the most of natural sunlight can help to warm houses and dry out any damp air," Deyan explains. "Opening curtains and blinds in the day not only allows the sunlight in to capture the warmth, but it also prevents moisture from being trapped around the windows."

"Using rugs and mats on wooden and stone floors can also help to make rooms feel warmer too by providing extra insulation."

Aside from avoiding dampness, eliminating and preventing condensation also reduces how often you'll need to clean your windows

9. Blast dry with a hair dryer

Not ideal for reducing your energy bills but a quick and easy solution for blasting away initial dampness if you need something to dry quickly. "Using a hairdryer to dry clothes is another great substitute for drying them in the sun," says Deyan. 

"This works better on smaller garments, like underwear and socks, and could considerably reduce your drying load in the long run." Ultra handy when following how to wash your bra to reduce the waiting time for everyday essential items. 

Deyan warns, "Make sure you keep the hairdryer arm’s length away from your garments, to avoid the fabrics from overheating. Additionally be careful not to obstruct any airflow to the back of your hairdryer, as this could cause the appliance to heat up too," potentially damaging your best hair dryer.

10. Crack a window to create an airflow indoors

Hanging clothes. on an indoor clothesline in front of a window to show how to dry clothes indoors quicker

(Image credit: Getty Images | Veronica Labate)

Opening windows enables airflow to speed up the drying process. " To dry your laundry more quickly indoors. hang the clothes on a drying rack or line inside an open window," suggests Blanca Aguirrezabal, decluttering specialist, TheBlogStuff

"If this isn't possible, try using a clothesline in a porch area or garage. Make sure to use mesh screens so small objects and bugs don't get caught in the fabric while it's drying.

"A well-aired room and some string will do the trick for this method of drying," says Deyan. "Hang your soggy clothes in front of any entrances – windows, and doors. This will allow air to circulate around the room whilst simultaneously drying your clothes."

Importantly for winter months,  it doesn’t matter whether the air is particularly warm or cool, any kind of continuous airflow will help your clothes dry faster than usual.

11. Press with a hot iron

laundry room with ironing board with tea towel to show how to dry clothes indoors by ironing items

(Image credit: Future)

Another neat cheat for using heat to dry things efficiently and quickly is to press with an iron. This is only recommended if you want to dry one or two pieces quickly, it's not a long-term solution.

"Place the freshly washed items onto a flat surface, preferably an ironing board, but a countertop will do if safely protected," suggests Deyan. "Then lay a clean towel over the items and run the iron gently over the top to distribute the heat.

"The iron’s heat will begin to gently dry the clothes, whilst the towel will absorb excess moisture from the fabric fibers and prevent unnecessary heat damage."

12. Install a ceiling rack to utilise rising heat

white kitchen with pink door and artwork with a drying rack suspended from the ceiling to suggest how to dry clothes indoors

(Image credit: Future |Tamara Kelly)

A ceiling clothes pulley is a great way to not only capitalise on any rising heat but also elevate clothes and laundry to free up valuable floor space. 

I personally have one in my kitchen and it's a great space-saving solution for my small kitchen. It means that not only can I utilise the additional heat created from my oven it also means my laundry can hang out for a longer period of time without it feeling in the way.

Allow extra drying time is an easy way to ensure your winter laundry is thoroughly dry before you fold it away – because dampness is the quiet way to generate bad odours. But speaking of bad odours, I wouldn't recommend hanging your laundry out to dry when you are cooking any pungent-smelling foods on the hob, because it may pick up those unwanted smells instead.

We recommend:

Rebrilliant Wood Wall-Mounted Drying Rack at Wayfair

Rebrilliant Wood Wall-Mounted Drying Rack at Wayfair

Designed to be durable and strong, the 6 pine laths are able to withstand large clothing loads. The clear-coat varnished timber adopts a traditional appeal as they sit between the authentic cast-iron rack ends and strong supporting pulleys that elevate laundry with ease.

FAQ

How can I dry my clothes indoors without causing damp?

The key to drying clothes indoors without causing dampness is ventilation. “It is important to be aware that regularly drying wet clothes inside can encourage the growth of potentially harmful damp and mould in the home due to excess moisture being introduced to the air,” says Jenny Turner, property manager at Insulation Express

"Extra moisture in the air is not visible but it will be there," warns Chris, "the dampness from the clothes must go somewhere – and in time, problems such as mould growth, condensation, and musty smells will become apparent, causing damage to wallpaper, carpets, furniture, and windowsills."

“If this moisture which has evaporated from the clothes has nowhere to escape to, it will stick to walls and ceilings which in time can develop into unsightly and dangerous dark damp and mould spots," adds Jenny." To tackle this, always leave a window open in the room where you are drying clothes in to encourage airflow to circulate and give the excess moisture in the air a way to escape.

“An electric best dehumidifier can be the key to avoiding damp growing or alternatively, you can purchase cheap plastic box dehumidifiers for from most supermarkets that will soak up moisture well,” Jenny suggests. “You could even pour rock salt onto bowls and leave it on window sills to absorb water from the air as a makeshift solution.”

clothes drying on a rack

(Image credit: Getty Images | Kinga Krzeminska)

Where is the best place to dry clothes indoors?

The best place to dry clothes indoors is always the most ventilated area of your home. Even during summer downpours, you may still be able to crack a window and allow airflow to speed up the drying process and relieve some of the moisture from the wet laundry. Even when the summer temperatures drop the air will still be significantly warmer than the cool air of winter, so it helps to leave windows open when and where you can.

In terms of the best place within the home, it's generally best to seek an upstairs room because heat rises, therefore the rooms upstairs should offer a higher temperature than that of any rooms downstairs to speed up drying times.

How to dry clothes indoors during the winter

"When it comes to drying washing, it’s natural that people will hang wet washing on clothes racks to dry indoors instead of using tumble dryers, which are one of the most energy-intensive devices in the home," says Chris Michael, managing director of Meaco, the leading air purification specialist.

"This will be fine at first, but over the coming weeks, the wet washing will take longer and longer to dry as we start to close our windows to keep precious heat in, and the moisture content in the air increases from the clothes that we have been drying over time," Chris continues.

"This build-up of moisture will mean that a load of washing that might have taken a few hours to dry in September will take a couple of days in October, and up to four or five days in November and December."

To avoid this frustration, try these savvy hacks to get your clothes dried quicker during the colder months.

Tamara Kelly
Lifestyle Editor

Tamara is a highly experienced homes and interiors journalist, with a career spanning 22 years. Now the Lifestyle Editor of womanandhome.com, she has spent the last 17 years working with the style teams at Country Homes & Interiors and Ideal Home, and it’s with these award-winning interiors teams that she gained a wealth of knowledge and honed her skills and passion for styling and writing about every aspect of lifestyle and interiors.

A true homes and interiors expert, Tamara has served as an ambassador for leading interior brands on multiple occasions, including appearing on Matalan’s The Show and presenting at top interior trend forecasting events such as the Autumn Fair and Spring Fair.