No matter how small your living space is, you'd probably enjoy having a washer and dryer. A compact washer can be a godsend, getting your clothes clean while keeping you out of the laundromat. But what do you do with the wet clothes once you unload them? Clean laundry dried on a clothesline on a sunny day smells delightful, but seriously, do you have the time to hang the clothes out and wait for them to dry? Maybe not.
You would almost certainly prefer to pop your family's wet clothes into a dryer, but might wonder where you would find room for one in your little home. Plus, even if you found the space (in a closet, kitchen, or bathroom), you probably wouldn't want to cut a hole in the wall to vent a dryer. Are you stuck hanging your laundry to dry? Not at all. What you need is a compact ventless dryer.
What is a compact ventless dryer?
A compact ventless dryer is a 24-inch machine that gets laundry dry by pushing hot air through wet clothes, picking up moisture in the process. The humid air then goes through a condenser, where the moisture condenses into water. At that point, the water might go into a tank in the dryer or out a hose and into a drain.
Obviously, if you have room for a full-size dryer and a way to vent it, you will be able to dry larger loads more quickly. If it's your only solution, it's better than nothing, but some families with a standard laundry room end up hooking up compact washers and ventless dryers on the bedroom level, not for large loads, but for the ease of throwing in mom's delicates or a kid's dirty clothes.
What do I need to know before I buy a compact ventless dryer?
Compact dryers have a smaller footprint than standard dryers. That makes it easier for you to find a place for one in a closet, stacked with a compact washer, or even under a kitchen counter. But remember, these small wonders do not have room for as much wet laundry as a standard dryer. You have to be prepared for a longer laundry day—or to run smaller loads several days a week.
Most compact dryers run slower than full-size dryers—in our labs we found that several of them met their match with comforters, taking hours to dry them. Condenser dryers can also warm up the room—not so bad in the winter, but not so great in the summer. A compact condenser dryer can also be pricey. Still, you might find those to be minor annoyances, not deal breakers.
How Reviewed tests dryers
We test compact dryers the same way we test every dryer in our laundry labs, evaluating how much moisture is removed from the laundry and clocking the amount of time it takes for each of the main cycles (Normal, Heavy, Delicates) to complete. We also measure the maximum temperature every dryer reaches as it tumbles. Lately, we've been seeing higher temperatures in many dryers we've tested, but temperatures over 150° can damage your clothes and linens over time. Cooler is definitely better.
We always look at a dryer's capacity. With a compact model, the drum will generally range from 4 to 4.3 cu. ft., about half of the space that today's largest dryers offer. And we take note of a dryer's ability to customize cycles and provide steam.
Which ventless dryer should I buy?
If you're sold on the idea of getting a ventless dryer for your home, here are the ones that did best in our tests:
Miele T1 TWI180 WP
Our best overall compact ventless dryer, this Miele provides the convenience of plugging into a regular 120V outlet, giving you more flexibility in deciding where to locate it. The TWI180 WP collects water from wet clothes in a drawer in the top left corner of the dryer, so all you have to do is dump it out after running a load. That sure beats having to drain or vent your dryer.
When we tested, this dryer managed to get all our test laundry 99.5 percent dry without cooking it. Staying under 150°, the Miele puts less wear and tear on your clothing and linens than hotter machines. It offers 10 cycles, covering almost every type of fabric, so you can personalize the way you want your laundry dried. The Miele will even give you steam when you want it, so your clothes won't come out wrinkled. Say goodbye to your iron!
You shouldn't expect speed from a compact ventless dryer, so if this one's cycle takes an hour and a half to get a load done, you won't be disappointed. This dryer is pricey, but if you can afford it, the TWI180 WP is an excellent choice.
With lots of features and user-friendly controls, the LG DLEC888W aced our tests. It is more spacious and easier to use than our other favorite condenser dryers, and its buttons were very responsive to the touch. You can even create a custom dry cycle on this machine for clothes that need special handling.
Select Sensor Dry, and this dryer can dry the laundry in a little over two hours. The Bulky Item cycle got our test comforter 99.7 percent dry in only an hour and 15 minutes. That means you can pull a wet quilt out of the washer, pop it in the DLEC888W after dinner, and it will be soft, dry, and fluffy by bedtime.
Fisher & Paykel DE4024P1
If you don't have the patience to wait for a laundry load to dry, the Fisher & Paykel DE4024P1 could be a good choice for you. Its Everyday cycle runs hot—170°—but it removes 100 percent of the moisture from a load of laundry. The Delicate cycle is cooler at 150.7° and it also gets the clothes completely dry. This dryer includes a drying rack accessory, which we love for drying things like sneakers and stuffed animals that shouldn't tumble. To get one included in the dryer's purchase price is a luxury you'll appreciate from time to time.
A versatile little dryer, the GE GFT14ESSLWW provides you with a choice: It can send the water it pulls out of the laundry to a tank or down the drain. It has an ample number of cycles, so you can choose to dry each load differently. Most people tend to use the Normal cycle and never look at any other, but it's always good to have a choice. Normal cycles averaged an hour and 45 minutes to complete. This dryer's biggest issue is that drying time can vary a great deal. During our testing, one Bulky cycle took an hour and six minutes and another Bulky cycle took an hour and 43 minutes to dry the same weight of wet clothes. That's a big difference, but if you're the set it and forget it type, you might never notice the difference.
You may have heard us rave about Bosch's terrific dishwashers, but the company is also well-known for the ventless dryers it manufactures. Fans of German engineering can attribute the WTG86401UC's brief Delicate and Quick cycles to the company's high standards. Both cycles got our test laundry fully dry in a mere 40 minutes, much faster than most compact ventless dryers. If you have a comforter to dry, though, it's better if you're not in a hurry. When we tested, it took three hours and 45 minutes for the Bosch WTG86401UC to get the moisture out of our test comforter.
Unlike the condenser dryers on this list, the Blomberg uses a heat pump to dry the clothes. That method reheats the air that is already inside the dryer and it is quieter and more energy efficient than condenser drying. When we tested the DHP24412W in our labs, we substituted the Cottons Regular Dry cycle for Normal—though this dryer has many very specific cycles, there's none actually called Normal. It took two hours in our tests to get laundry 98 percent dry, but the temperature never got any higher than an incredible 123.6°. That's much lower than the 150° or more we usually find inside dryers, and cooler temperatures treat clothes more gently. You're unlikely to see the color fading and random holes that hotter dryers can cause. If you are an ironer, the slight bit of moisture the Blomberg leaves in the clothes will make it easier to press them.
The DV22N6800HW is another heat pump dryer and we are looking forward to bringing it into our labs for testing. Owners who wrote online reviews say that they like its energy efficiency and quiet operation. The Smart Care feature lets owners use their smartphones to troubleshoot problems. Not that it matters if you install it in a closet, but when you open the door, you see that this model's crystal blue glass door has a high-end look that is easy on the eyes.
Prices are accurate at the time this article was published, but may change over time.