Clothes line and Tumble dryer are the well known clothes drying options. Here a 3rd option is presented with advantages over tumble drying. This is to use a dehumidifier in a dedicated drying cupboard.
How it works
Clothes are taken out of the washer and hung or laid out in the drying cupboard. Hang items over rails, with plenty of space for air circulation. The cupboard should be reasonably air-tight so it forms its own micro-climate inside. The dehumidifier operating in the drying cupboard will dry, heat, and circulate the air, making ideal conditions for quick drying of washing. (I find a 400W compressor based dehumidifier will dry a load of washing this way in 60 minutes after a 1400RPM spin. Towels and thick denims may require longer.)
Advantages & Disadvantages
Advantages compared to tumble dryer:
- Takes up no kitchen space
- One less operation per load if you also store cloths in the cupboard, since the clothes all go from washer to cupboard, not via the dryer.
- No dryer noise.
- Much less energy consumption than a tumble dryer
- Much lower run cost
- Much less wear on clothes
- Provides a supply of distilled water which is particulary suitable for steam ironing (as well as watering sensitive plants, etc).
- Heavier clothes such as winter coats can take many hours to fully dry. However this is rarely a disadvantage in reality. You would have to be a bit disorganised for this to make any difference.
- Need to take extra safety precautions as home dehumidifiers are not explicitly designed for operation in this environment (see below).
Dehumidifiers are not explicitly designed for this purpose, so it is necessary in add some safety features.
A dehumidifier operated in an enclosed space must be operated via a thermostat to switch it off when the temperature reaches the dehumidifier's max operating temperature (typically 30C, but check instructions). If the socket for the dehumidifier is in the cupboard, a plug-in thermostat can be used to do this.
Precuations must be taken to ensure items cannot fall onto the dehumidifier blocking its airflow, which could cause a fire. (Remember that items will get lighter as they dry and more likely to blow off rails.) Similarly, items must not fall onto any thermostat, which would then shield it from the real temperature and prevent it switching off if the cupboard gets too warm.
For control, the dehumidifer should operate via a one-shot timer such as an immersion heater timer, so it can't be left switched on accidently. Also, humidity control (humidistat) can be used switch off automatically when cloths are dry, but don't rely on humidity control alone to keep the dehumidifer switched off when the drying cupboard is not being used for drying -- humidity control can switch on at any time, which could come as a surprise to someone who piled things on the dehumidifier earlier when they thought it was off. Dehumidifiers are available with both humidity control and one-shot timers built in, or these can be purchased and installed as separate items.
Remember to keep the dehumidifier's filters clean. This is particularly important when the appliance will be operating at or near its max operating temperature in a cupboard. Some fabrics can shed quite a bit of dust when drying.
The cupboard should be reasonably airtight so it forms its own micro-climate inside. Don't bother draftproofing the doors, but avoid have vents or louvred doors. (Don't block up any vents if there's any gas appliance in the cupboard, or if there's an open-flued gas appliance anywhere in the house.)
Keywords: tumble dryer tumble drier clothes laundry design kitchen layout planning plan