How a tumble dryer works

Many households will own a tumble dryer as they are particularly handy in the winter and for drying larger items such as towels and bedding. The construction of this appliance is simple. Here is a breakdown of how your tumble dryer works.


There are two types of tumble dryer:

Vented Dryer– warm moist air is directed outside through a hole in the wall or an open window.

Condenser Dryer– water from clothes is collected and drained away.

How a tumble dryer works:

  • Central drum– this is where you place your wet clothes. The drum is spun around by a belt which is attached to the motor on a tension pulley.
  • Belt– the belt is the most commonly replaced part of a tumble dryer.
  • Element– the element looks like the inside of a toaster, a thermostat is attached which regulates the temperature. The motor drives the fan which pushes hot air up over the element. Hot air is then blown into the drum.
  • Lint Filter– moisture is drawn out of the tumbling clothes, the air flow then travels through a lint filter and catches any fluff from the clothing.
  • Vented dryer– the process of moisture removal is slightly different for a vented dryer. The warm moist air is simply vented away with a hose.
  • Condenser dryer– the moisture is fed down into a heat exchanger.
  • Heat exchanger– the heat exchanger is essentially a radiator. Warm moist air is cooled and then condensed out.
  • Secondary fan– this draws cool air across the heat exchanger which helps to condense out water. Water then flows into the base of the machine and warm dry air is circulated back into the element flowing through to the drum.

Water removal:

The final part of the process is getting rid of the condensed water.

  • On some machines, the water drips down into a reservoir which sits beneath the heat exchanger.
  • Other machines have a pump installed which exchanges the water up to a basin on the front of the appliance, this makes it easy to empty the water.
  • Water can also be drained externally by adding a hose into the stored water supply.

Clothes drying tips:

  • When possible, air-dry your clothes outside to save money as well as the planet.
  • The best time to hang clothes out to dry is mid-morning (after mist or dew has disappeared.)
  • In colder months in order to save money and keep your clothes lasting longer, half dry your clothes outside and finish off the drying process with your tumble dryer.
  • When buying a tumble dryer it is important to pick the one that is the most energy efficient. This will save you money and also will reduce your carbon footprint.

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