More Americans than ever are living in RVs and tiny homes, and the trend doesn’t look like it’s going to let up. And while those options come with their own perks and freedoms, if you don’t have a traditional living setup, most home appliances aren’t going to cut it.
Aside from space, cost is a major factor. High construction costs can be a challenge when installing ductwork for dryers, so if you want to ditch the clothesline, you'll need a ventless compact dryer.
Which one should you buy? We tested almost every model on the market in our labs over the course of several months. After doing over 500 pounds of laundry, we arrived at the conclusion that the Miele TWI180(available at Appliances Connection for $1,799.00) is the best ventless compact dryer. But if you need something a little more affordable, the LG DLEC888W (available at Home Depot) is an excellent choice, as well.
Here are our picks in ranked order:
Fisher & Paykel DE4024P1
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When it comes to space-saving dryers, the Miele T1 tops the list. Unlike most compacts, the T1 can plug into any regular 120V outlet and work just fine. It doesn’t even need a vent or drain. Instead, all the excess water gets pumped into a drawer in the upper-left corner of the unit. While it does require you to empty it out after every cycle, it means this dryer needs no extra infrastructure to run. However, there is an option to bypass the drawer, and have the collected water go down the drain.
Once placed in the desired location, the T1 outshines the competition. Going through the menus, we found specialized cycles for everything from tablecloths to denim. During testing, the T1 got laundry 99.5 percent dry, while keeping its internal temperature under 150°F—the point which fabric starts to degrade. And it didn’t matter if we put in thin pillowcases or bulky comforters, the T1 got it all dry. As well as drying, the T1 has steam options to eliminate wrinkles and a system called FragranceDos to keep your clothes smelling fresh, without adding overwhelming scents.
While the T1’s German engineering wowed us with its performance, you will need to adjust your American sensibilities (and your budget) to this dryer. You’ll be waiting a lot longer for cycles to finish, between an hour and an hour-and-a-half per load. Also, while the cycle list is very extensive, we found navigating the menus to get to them way more complicated than turning a dial and pressing start.
Even considering its faults, the Miele T1 is one helluva dryer, compact or otherwise.
The LG DLEC888W condenser dryer is our top choice for a ventless dryer. Not only did it dry well, but it was more spacious and easier to use than the other models we tested. Retailing for around $900, its 4.2-cu.-ft. 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, the 888 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.
But one cycle—Bulky Item—pleasantly surprised us. In an hour and 15 minutes, it got a comforter 99.7 percent dry. That's hard for a standard dryer, let alone a condenser model.
Before You Buy: What to Know about Ventless Dryers
No matter which ventless dryer you buy, you should know a few things first. All the models we tested were compact—a standard width of 24 inches wide. That means they can fit about half the amount of clothes as a traditional dryer. This is one of the reasons why ventless dyers are great for mobile and tiny homes.
However, they're not fast. A normal dryer typically takes about an hour to dry clothes, but a ventless dryer can take anywhere from two to four times as long. That's because they can't vent moisture outside. Instead, moisture is either drained out or collected in a tank. They also get hot enough to warm a room, so keep that in mind if you live in a small space.
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, which means that we have a great sense for what appliances are bargains at their price points, and which appliances have really useful extra features (as opposed to the kitchen-sink approach to features).
With all this in mind, 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. We're always reviewing new products, so stay tuned for our reviews and roundups of the latest products in laundry, refrigerators, dishwashers, and vacuum cleaners.
Every dryer that comes into Reviewed’s labs gets put through the same testing regime, which addresses both performance and user-friendliness.
Performance tests include:
• Drying performance – How much water does each major dryer cycle actually remove from your clothes, and how quickly can it achieve that level of dryness?
• Maximum temperature – We record the maximum temperature in each dryer cycle. Some like it hot, but if dryer temperatures get too hot, it could damage your clothes.
The best dryers completely dry your clothes at a temperature that is hot (140°F-150°F) but not too hot (lest your clothes be scorched or damaged), and have short cycle times.
Beyond these performance tests, we also assess the usability of each dryer, based on our experience, both during testing and during more casual use (one perk of working at Reviewed is that there is plenty of laundry machines on premises!). 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, 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.
Other Ventless Dryers We Tested
Fisher & Paykel DE4024P1
Hailing from New Zealand, the Fisher & Paykel (pronounced Pai-kel) DE4024P1 is a condenser dryer that gets the job done. Our main takeaway after testing is that this model runs fast and hot, compared to other ventless dryers. The Everyday cycle ran for just an hour and a half and reached temperatures north of 170°F. The end result was laundry that was 100 percent dry. Even the Delicates cycle reached a pretty scorching 150.7°F—a temperature we normally associate with a Normal cycle—but it did get the laundry completely dry.
While the DE4024P1 is a solid ventless dryer, it lacks the size of the LG and the sheer number of features of the Miele. For those reasons, we relegated it to third place.
The GE GFT14ESSLWW is the Boy Scout of our roundup, as it's prepared for just about anything. First of all, it has a drying rack, which opens up a whole new world of items that can go into the dryer—ranging from stuffed animals to soaked boots. As for cycles, the GFT14ESSLWW has 13 of them, so you'll be sure to find the one that suits the situation.
Unlike most other ventless dryers, which must send excess water into a drain pipe, the GE offers the choice of a tank and a drain hose. If a drain isn't handy, its tank empties just like a dehumidifier. Just remember to empty it out after every cycle.
Performance wise, though, the GFT14ESSLWW didn't have what it takes to claim the top spot. While everything from comforters to towels came out perfectly dry, the cycle times tended to vary. The widest gap happened on the Heavy Duty cycle: Drying the same standard loads, one took an hour and six minutes, but another finished after an hour and 43 minutes. A Normal cycle kept us waiting, on average, for an hour and 45 minutes.
Still, we think the GFT14ESSLWW is a great solution for families who live in small spaces, but enjoy a long list of activities.
Worldwide, Bosch has long been the king of ventless dryers, so the Bosch WTG86401UC arrives with a distinguished pedigree. This dryer impressed us with a typically German precision on its Delicate and Quick cycles. Both lasted forty minutes and both got our test laundry 99 percent dry.
But—Quick and Delicate cycles aside—the 86401 had two issues that kept it from claiming the top spot. First, this dryer took the longest by far to dry our comforter—three hours and 45 minutes. That's almost worth a trip to the laundromat. We also found the touch controls to require a few button presses to respond, especially when our fingers were wet.
While the Bosch's idiosyncrasies might be a positive for some users—those who have the option to line dry comforters, for example—the machine's negatives were strong enough to keep it from our number one spot.
Basically, heat pump dryers use a lot less energy than their condenser counterparts, which makes the DHP244112W a good choice for those looking to save electricity. But heat pump dryers also cost a lot more up front. Even on sale, this Blomberg costs almost $400 more than our top-rated LG.
It also stumbled twice during our testing: The Quick 30-minute cycle only got our test laundry 76 percent dry, leaving it sopping wet to the touch. The Bulky cycle lasted two hours, but only achieved 82 percent dryness. That means it's a tough sell for all but the most environmentally conscious consumer.
Jonathan Chan currently serves as the Senior Lab Technician 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.
We use standardized and scientific testing methods to scrutinize every product and provide you with objectively accurate results. If you’ve found different results in your own research, email us and we’ll compare notes. If it looks substantial, we’ll gladly re-test a product to try and reproduce these results. After all, peer reviews are a critical part of any scientific process.