If you’re looking to reduce your carbon footprint, start with your laundry. It’s estimated that, even in summer, 32 per cent of us still opt to use tumble dryers instead of line drying.
In the depths of winter, it’s easy to see why we end up chucking everything in the machine and forgetting about the environmental impact.
But let your soggy underwear do its bit to help you save the planet. It’s time to think of clever ways to hang up that load indoors, with a bit more green thinking and a little less guilt.
We took the average weekday load for a family of four – an 8kg-capacity washing machine’s worth of well-spun laundry – and tested drying on a selection or racks and airers.
The more space that clothes had in which to air, the shorter the drying time, so some large-capacity options gave us wearable jeans in about 12 hours – the heated versions shortening this somewhat. More compact versions, where garments were more crowded, needed three to four hours more.
We also looked for stability, ease of movement and the build quality of the struts and racks.
The airers here come in all shapes and sizes and for all budgets, so think about the footprint you have to play with first.
Are you able to whisk a dryer from room to garden or balcony if you get the chance? Nowhere to hang anything and off to the launderette again? Perhaps you have a laundry room of dreams that deserves the best. Read on: we’ve got something for everyone with a hang-up.
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Leifheit lino pop up 140 airer
Our top choice last year and it’s still our favourite, this airer is perfect if you have limited space as it can easily fit a couple of washing loads on to its compact lines. Easy to open and close – just push down on the sturdy button or pull up on the collar – it transforms into a whirligig-style airer that sits firmly on four legs. When stored in its drawstring bag, it’s tall but easy to fit in a tiny corner of a broom cupboard. This airer is great for outdoors too as it’s a doddle to move around. When the weather allows, whisk it out on to a balcony or chase the sun around the garden.
Buy now £65.00, Argos
Dry:Soon 3-tier heated airer and peg offer bundle
Join the army of fans of Lakeland’s laundry life-saver – you’ll never tumble dry again. The heated bars are just warm enough to dry undies and lighter items in a few hours, and jeans overnight, especially if you opt for this bundle, which has the airer cover to trap the heat inside. In this set, you’ll get mesh shelves for drying knitwear and delicates and a peg system for underwear – you can also buy castors if you want to wheel it from room to room. The handy clips and plug holder make storage neat and tidy, while the eight-hour timer is a nice addition. It costs just 6p an hour to run.
Buy now £175.96, Lakeland
Brabantia linn large clothes rack
More of a functional piece of furniture than a wobbly dryer, this clothes rack looks the absolute business, whether in a kitchen, hallway or bedroom. We used ours in a utility space, with items going on hangers straight from the machine, damp undies hung on the upper higher rack and folded clothes on the bottom shelf, ready to be put away. It was great to have the height to throw duvet covers over the top to air dry. Versatile and stylish, we loved it. Also comes in white and in a smaller size.
Buy now £149.00, Brabantia
Minky over bath airer
If you’re in a small flat and don’t want to stare at wet washing in your living area, try this Minky number, which you can hide away in the most underused space of all – the bath. The chunky feet are just the right shape to fix this to the bath edges and it will give a valuable 9.5 metres of drying space – enough for a 6kg machine load. Wet washing was out of sight and out of mind in the smallest room – brilliant!
Buy now £22.99, Minky
Ikea frost clothes drier
Here’s a basic, lightweight plastic-coated hanger that’s sturdy enough to take daily use and has a bargain price tag. Go mad and buy two! They also fold flat for easy storage. The adjustable height means they can easily handle longer items of laundry.
Buy now £10.00, Ikea
Dry:Soon drying pod airer
This model uses a small heater that blows air upwards in a fabric pod that has a hanger for drying up to 12 items inside. You can set the timer for up to three hours – we certainly needed that for several pairs of heavy jeans at once. More successfully, our tester filled the pod with 12 shirts for the working week ahead and found they were cupboard dry in around an hour and a quarter. We’d use this for delicates every day of the week, as they came out with very few creases too.
Buy now £59.99, Lakeland
Lakeland modern extendable ceiling airer
Get your smalls up, up and away with this nifty modern take on the old pulley clothes rail. We found the instructions clear and the pulley system easy to instal, though you must make sure it’s going into a ceiling beam rather than plasterboard. Once its five extending aluminium rails are loaded with wet washing, it can get weighty. It’s extendable and goes to 1.4 metres long, so there’s plenty of room for bed linen too.
Buy now £49.99, Lakeland
Addis over door airer
There are a number of over-the-door airers from Addis we like, and this larger version can handle a surprisingly good amount of wet washing when space is at a premium. Only 34cm wide, we dried a T-shirt on each of its six horizontal rungs, with underwear on the bars of the inner strut. The net area on top was also perfect for laying out woollen items we didn’t want creasing. A must for every student bedroom.
Buy now £11.99, The Range
Beldray 18 metre clothes horse
If you have space for it, this is the airer you need. Jeans, super-king bed linen… even the dog’s bed was tested on this. The sturdiness and versatility made it one of the best and at a great price too. As the name suggests, there’s 18 metres of drying space here so it’s great for family washes and can handle two full loads from an 8kg washing machine. Bargain!
Buy now £19.99, Amazon
Habitat misto 6m wooden airer
The thing about clothes airers is that they can look really ugly – both when in use and folded. Just like your grandma used to have in front of the gas fire, this wooden airer may not be the most capacious of those we looked at, but it’s certainly easier on the eye. The concertina design is in beech wood and feels sturdy even when fully loaded, with the option to stand it at full or half-height. An environmentally-friendly, non-plastic classic.
Buy now £30.00, Argos
Minky 3 tier plus airer
This is a safe-to-use hanger with its non-slip feet and safety lock that prevents collapse. If you like having space to load up with trousers and tops, but need a solution for drying shirts, dresses and things that need to keep their shape, then this is ideal. The four corners at the top of this airer fold out to provide a place to use your own hangers too, so it also came in handy when we were smoothing out garments with a handheld steamer. A sturdy choice.
Buy now £25.00, Dunelm
Brabantia wallfix wall-mounted washing line
While it is expensive, this outdoor/indoor airer is a genius solution if you have a permanent drying space – in the garage or a utility room, for example. It neatly folds out from a box into a whopping 24 metres of coated, flexible lines. Watch Brabantia’s YouTube guide to help with installation and the 10 minutes of drill work required is nothing, as this one will be in use for years.
Buy now £124.00, Amazon
The verdict: Clothes airers and drying racks
For the second time, Leifheit has taken the crown with its pop-up airer. It’s so versatile because you can whisk clothes from indoors to outdoors without it collapsing on you. Beldray’s 18 metre clothes horse is a bargain, but the Dry:Soon heated airer is a must-have for busy households. You’ll wonder how you ever managed without one.
If you’re looking to update your appliances, read our review of the best washing machines that are affordable and efficient