While no match for something full-size, if you're in the market for a compact ventless dryer, the GE GFT14ESSMWW is a decent pick. While its cycles tend to run long and get way too hot, they will get your laundry dry pretty much every time.
Consumers who buy compact, ventless dryers do so for one very specific reason: space, or lack thereof. You may be living in a city apartment, condo, or a tiny home, without room for a standard size washer and dryer set-up. A compact, ventless condensing dryer can fit into tight spaces where regular dryers can’t, and uses significantly less energy than a vented dryer.
Compact, ventless dryers are no match for the performance and dry cycle times that a standard or extra large clothes dryer can give you. But if you’re shopping around for them, it’s because your laundry room situation demands one. Even if they don’t perform as well as full sized models, you need to know what your best ventless dryer options are.
So, we brought many of the models on the market into the Reviewed lab. After doing over 500-plus pounds of laundry, we arrived at the conclusion that the Bosch 500 Series WTW87NH1UC Heat Pump Dryer(available at Abt for $1,399.00) is the best ventless compact dryer. But if you need something a little more affordable, the LG DLEC888W (available at Best Buy) is an excellent choice, as well.
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Here are the best compact ventless dryers we tested, ranked in order:
Bosch 500 Series WTW87NH1UC Heat Pump Dryer
Miele TXR 860WP Eco & Steam
Bosch 800 Series WTG865H4UC
Bosch 500 Series WTW87NH1UC
The Bosch 500 Series Heat Pump Dryer draws moisture out of clothes using heat pump technology rather than by heating up air from your home and venting it outside. You will need to drain water from the dryer with a hose or periodically empty the small tank.
From an aesthetic point of view, this compact dryer looks great, even with a relatively simple white finish and stainless steel door. It features 12 pre-programmed cycles on top of the typical time-dry, with the option to adjust the heat level and the dryness level you prefer.
We aren’t in love with its drying performance in any of the standard cycles. Our tests show that the clothes get dry just fine; but it takes a lot longer to get there. Its normal cycle takes a full 105 minutes to get a load fully dry, while a “quick” cycle takes 70 minutes (or 85 minutes on the delicates cycle). It takes more than two hours for bulky items to only get 82% dry.
However, considering this machine is such an energy saver, it’s a great option if you are willing to baby it and don’t mind the small capacity. This a solid, eco-friendly alternative to conventional vented dryers.
The LG DLEC888W condenser dryer dries well and is more spacious and easy to use than the other models we tested. Its 4.2-cubic-foot drum offers the most space for the money, while remaining just 24 inches wide. On the usability front, this LG simultaneously offers the most features and the easiest-to-use controls.
All the standard cycles on this dryer are easy to read and understand, and it had the most responsive buttons of any of the ventless dryers we tested. You can create custom cycles or even download new ones from an NFC-equipped phone.
When it actually came to our drying tests, which involved weighing standard loads of laundry before and after drying, this LG hit the mark on every cycle. Sensor Dry got our test laundry into a wearable state in a little over two hours.
While it wasn't the fastest dryer on the list, it did have consistent cycle times. Our philosophy is that we'd rather have consistently moderate drying times than a roll of the dice.
One cycle—Bulky Item—pleasantly surprised us. In an hour and 15 minutes, it got 99.7% dry. That's hard for a standard dryer, let alone a condenser model.
One potential downside for the energy-conscious: This was the only dryer on the list that isn’t ENERGY STAR certified.
We have plenty of experience testing these products in the lab, but we've also used them like normal people would in the course of their daily lives. You can feel confident that when we recommend a product, we're giving it our Reviewed stamp of approval, which means two things: Firstly, this appliance performs well, and secondly, this appliance is easy to use.
Every dryer that comes into the Reviewed labs gets put through the same testing regime, which addresses both performance and user-friendliness.
Performance tests include a drying performance that measures how much water each major dryer cycle actually removes from your clothes, and how quickly it achieves that level of dryness. We also perform a maximum temperature test, where we record the maximum temperature in each dryer cycle. Some like it hot, but if dryer temperatures get too hot, it can damage your clothes.
The best dryers completely dry your clothes at a temperature that is hot (140°F-150°F), but not too hot, and have short cycle times.
Beyond these performance tests, we also assess the usability of each dryer, based on our experience during testing and during more casual use. Our main goal is to get the answer to one question: How easy is it to actually use this dryer? This involves cumulatively assessing the control panel, the door, the vent (if one exists), and any smart features that are included.
By combining the performance data with our own observations, we can make solid recommendations for someone looking for any type of dryer at any price point.
What You Should Know About Buying a Compact Ventless Dryer
There’s usually two reasons you’re buying a compact, ventless dryer: You want to save energy, or it’s the only dryer that will fit your available cubic feet. Most of the things people say they want in a dryer—high capacity, fast drying, clothes that come out fully dry—just aren’t here. The ventless design doesn’t allow it to check all those boxes like a vented tumble dryer can.
What is a Compact Dryer?
All the ventless models we tested were compact—a standard width of 24 inches wide. It is very common to see compact dryers that are ventless, since these features complement each other and support the same use case.
Smaller than the standard size dryer that Americans are used to, a compact dryer can fit about half the amount of clothes as a traditional dryer, and they’re quite popular in European homes. They are great options for people living in apartments, condos, and even tiny houses. Why, because they can fit anywhere, including interior bathrooms or the kitchen.
How Does a Ventless Dryer Work?
A ventless dryer (also known as a condenser tumble dryer) solves some real problems by working in a way that’s quite different from a conventional dryer. It eliminates the need for running a dryer duct, which is helpful if you live in a building that simply doesn’t give you an option to have a vented dryer.
It’s also far more energy-efficient than a conventional vented electric dryer—both for the dryer and for your home’s HVAC system (which has to replace the air your typical dryer sucks out of the room)—by condensing the moisture out of your clothes into a tray or tank that you can empty or drain into your standpipe or a nearby sink.
All this results in a more efficient dryer that can be installed in more places.
Though ventless dryers are more efficient in terms of the energy usage per cycle, they tend to take longer to dry your clothes. They are not fast. Where a conventional hot air dryer typically takes about an hour to dry clothes, a ventless dryer can take anywhere from two to four times as long.
Ventless dryers also get hot enough to warm a room, so keep that in mind if you live in a small space.
If you're willing to tolerate the idiosyncrasies of these space-saving dehumidifiers on steroids, read on.
With temperatures that will be gentle on clothes and 19 specialty cycles that are just right for any linen type, this dryer will help take care of your clothing without adding wear and tear. All of the cycles we ran lasted over an hour, making this not the fastest machine compared to vented dryers, but what you may not get in speed it makes up for in quality.
The maximum cycle temperatures stay below 150°F, the point in which we see clothing fibers start to degrade, meaning it will do a great job of protecting your clothes from heat, while still thoroughly drying them.
In the upper left corner of the machine, you’ll find a water jug where the condensation from your linens empties into. You will have to manually empty it when it reaches maximum capacity. While we did find this a bit cumbersome, the Miele TXR860 WP had a super easy installation that just requires plugging it into a 120V power outlet.
The Bosch 800 Series Compact Condensation Dryer is the company’s top-end compact, ventless model in the U.S., with a standard self-cleaning condenser. It acts like a dehumidifier, condensing the moisture out of your clothes into a tray you can empty or drain into your standpipe or a nearby sink.
This dryer looks great, and it also uses drastically less energy than a conventional vented dryer. And, while it can get your clothes dry just fine, it’ll take a long time to do so—its Normal cycle takes more than 90 minutes to dry a load.
This machine’s biggest drawback is that its Cotton cycle got all the way up to 176.4°F in our tests, which is way above normal—a dryer should max out at 150°F—and can wear your clothes down more quickly over time.
If you’re in the market for a compact ventless dryer, the GE GFT14ESSMWW is a pretty good pick. It offers decent drying for its price point, though its performance is somewhat offset by its long cycle times and tendency to get too hot on most of its cycles.
Jonathan Chan currently serves as the Lab Manager at Reviewed. If you clean with it, it's likely that Jon oversees its testing. Since joining the Reviewed in 2012, Jon has helped launch the company's efforts in reviewing laptops, vacuums, and outdoor gear. He thinks he's a pretty big deal. In the pursuit of data, he's plunged his hands into freezing cold water, consented to be literally dragged through the mud, and watched paint dry. Jon demands you have a nice day.
TJ is the Executive Editor of Reviewed.com. He is a Massachusetts native and has covered electronics, cameras, TVs, smartphones, parenting, and more for Reviewed. He is from the self-styled "Cranberry Capitol of the World," which is, in fact, a real thing.
Leigh Harrington has more than 20 years experience as a writer and editor for myriad print and digital publications. At USA TODAY and Reviewed, she focuses on coverage about home trends, home improvement, large and small appliances, and gardening.
Our team is here for one purpose: to help you buy the best stuff and love what you own. Our writers, editors, and lab technicians obsess over the products we cover to make sure you're confident and satisfied. Have a different opinion about something we recommend? Email us and we'll compare notes.