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Best tumble dryer 2021: Budget to high-end dryers from AEG, Miele, Bosch and more

Derek Adams Sasha Muller
7 Dec 2021

Not sure which tumble dryer to buy? We help you pick the right one at the right price, and tell you everything you need to know

If you have room for a dedicated tumble dryer then it's a far, far better choice than any washer dryer. The best tumble dryers will dry clothes far faster - and in many cases, more gently - than any washer dryer could manage, and they'll also dry bigger loads of washing at once which is a godsend for any household. The tricky bit comes when choosing the right one for your home: there are many different brands, price points and features to consider. You could spend ages comparing the machines just from one manufacturer alone.

Here we’ve done all the hard work for you. On this page, you'll find a selection of our recommended tumble dryers, from cheaper condenser models right through to top-of-the-line heat pump dryers, along with links to the best prices we’ve found. If you're not sure which features to look out for, then read on and our buying guide will explain everything you need to know about finding the right tumble dryer for you. 

The best tumble dryers: At a glance

How to choose the best tumble dryer 

What’s the difference between a condenser and vented tumble dryer?

With a condenser dryer, the hot moisture vapour within the unit condenses into droplets of water, which are ported to a removable collection tank that needs to be emptied by hand, usually after every drying cycle. Condenser dryers are more expensive than vented machines but much easier to install – all you need is a nearby power outlet.

Aside from regular emptying, the only other drawback is that some moisture inevitably escapes the machine, causing a slightly humid atmosphere in the room. The walls may show signs of condensation, but nothing more than you would expect from having had a hot shower or bath. 

Vented dryers are cheaper and more practical in the long run as all of that hot, moist air is ported outside through a 4in hole in the wall. This means you won’t have to worry about emptying a tank of water into the sink, and your utility room’s walls will be dryer.

The only major drawback is that you'll need to have the machine placed against an outside wall with an AC power outlet nearby and you will almost certainly need to employ the services of an expert with a wall-penetrating 12in drill. It’s worth bearing in mind that a builder’s installation costs, combined with the price of the vented machine, could easily amount to more than the cost of a condenser dryer.

What is a heat pump tumble dryer?

If energy efficiency is your primary concern, consider a heat-pump dryer. They're most expensive to buy, but can reduce annual energy costs by as much as 50%. Heat pump dryers pass the moist air collected during the drying cycle through an evaporator, which removes the moisture before reusing the same hot air for the rest of the drying process. They still port condensed moist air to a collection tank that will require emptying from time to time.

However, you'll need to weigh up the extra cost of the machine against the electricity savings made. Some experts have calculated that it could take up to 11 years of ownership before a heat pump dryer equals the cost of a cheaper condenser or vented machine. They also operate at lower temperatures and take much longer to dry your clothes. Also, they won't operate properly in ambient temperatures less than 10˚C so you can rule out installing one in an outhouse or garage, especially if you plan on using it during a typical UK winter.

What is a sensor dryer?

All but the very cheapest dryers will have onboard sensors programmed to estimate the amount of moisture left in the clothing. When the sensor detects that the clothes are, say, “cupboard” or “iron” dry, the machine will end its cycle. Sensors can dramatically reduce energy costs as the dryer switches off when the job is done. A non-sensor machine will carry on until it reaches the end of its timed cycle, leaving your garments bone dry and, in some cases, possibly even a little damaged.

What size dryer should I get?

Ideally, you should consider a tumble dryer that’s the same capacity as your washing machine. The capacity refers to the dry weight of clothes you can fit inside the drum. The most common sizes of drums are between 6kg and 10kg but the bigger, the better as that extra space provides better hot air circulation and, consequently, a more efficient drying process. If you have a large family and king-size duvets to dry, consider a 9kg model. Otherwise, a 6kg to 8kg drum will likely suffice.

What do energy ratings mean?

Running costs are extremely important: a machine that’s cheaper to run could cost you less in the long term, even if it’s more expensive to buy. The energy rating labels are a good way to make quick comparisons between models, as you can contrast the energy efficiency, drying capacity and noise levels at a glance. 

In 2021, the EU Energy Rating system is being phased out in favour of a UK-specific version for certain appliances. Where the previous system graded appliances from A+++ down to D, the new system will do away with the plus signs in exchange for a simpler A-to-G rating. If an appliance is rated A, it's about as energy efficient as it gets.

For now, tumble dryers are exempt from the changes, so you'll still see the old-style A+++ ratings for now. This, however, is likely to change in the coming months, so don't be surprised if you start seeing machines with two energy rating labels side-by-side in readiness for the shift to the new rating scheme. 

Most of the machines below enjoy an energy rating of B and higher, so you shouldn’t see too much of a difference in long-term running costs – we’re talking savings of just a few pennies in some instances. However, an A+++ machine will most definitely be more energy efficient than one rated B.

READ NEXT: The best tumble dryer deals this month

    The best tumble dryers to buy

    1. Haier HD90A636: A brilliant heat pump tumble dryer for sensible money

    Price: £498 | Buy now from Appliances Direct

    This affordable heat pump dryer from Haier is a winner. You get 16 drying programmes, an impressive A++ energy efficiency rating and good drying performance into the bargain.

    It's a minor point, granted, but the Haier also cuts a rather snazzy dash. The black door, orange LED display and smart-looking fascia are refreshingly different. If you want a machine that won't embarrass a modern kitchen, this may hit the mark. 

    Crucially, the all-round performance is solid, too. Clothes are dried well, without being too wet or over-dried, and the large drum makes it easy to load and unload. Factor in the low running costs and the only thing counting against the Haier is that it's noticeably noisier than the competition.

    Read our in-depth Haier HD90-A636 review

    Key specs – Type: Heat pump; Capacity: 9kg; Rated efficiency: A++

    Buy now from Appliances Direct

    2. Beko DCR93161: A great value condenser tumble dryer

    Price: £329 | Buy now from AO

    STOCK CHECK (26/11/2021): Both grey and white models are sold out. Retailers say that more stock is coming, so sign up to alerts or check back here soon. 

    Beko specialises in budget machines that offer excellent value for money. In fact, certain Beko appliances come with the sort of features you would expect to see in machines at twice the price. They may not be well made as Miele, Siemens and Bosch but, in the main, the company’s ever-growing flock of users seems very happy with their purchases.

    This B-rated, family-sized condenser model represents excellent value, coming with a huge 9kg drum (rare at this price level), full sensor control, a reverse action drum for more efficient and gentler drying, an automatic anti-crease function, a reversible door and an interior LED light for those who like to be mesmerised by the hypnotic sight of clothes floating around in a vortex. It also offers direct drainage so you can bypass the hassle of having to empty the collection tank by connecting the machine to your nearest wastewater outlet.

    Users have noted excellent drying times with this machine and are generally very pleased with their purchase. It’s easy enough to use and performs very well, although it’s not the most energy-efficient model in this roundup. That said, the machine’s low price easily compensates for the small amount of extra money you’ll pay in annual running costs.

    Key specs – Type: Condenser; Capacity: 9kg; Rated efficiency: B

    Buy now from

    3. Bosch Serie 6 WTWH7660GB: The best high-end heat pump tumble dryer

    Price: £749 | Buy now from Currys

    The Bosch Serie 6 WTWH7660GB's excellent performance lives up to its sleek looks. Its AutoDry function employs sensors to ensure that laundry is dried to perfection, while a healthy selection of programmes means that it can tackle any load you can throw in it.

    Bosch’s Home Connect app lets you choose from the drying programmes, monitor the progress of the cycle and start or stop the machine from your smartphone or tablet. This means you can set the dryer in motion from the comfort of your sofa.

    Heat pump tumble dryers tend to be more energy-efficient than their condenser cousins, but even by their money-saving standards, the WTWH7660GB performs very well. The low running costs mean that it’ll repay its relatively high initial price the longer you own it.

    Read our in-depth Bosch Serie 6 WTWH7660GB

    Key specs – Type: Heat pump; Capacity: 9kg; Rated efficiency: A++

    Buy now from Currys

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