Laundry-day saviours: Lighten the load with these clothes airers and drying racks

Laundry-day saviours: Lighten the load with these clothes airers and drying racks
From heated options to budget buys, we’ve found the best clothes airers and drying racks for speedy drying, from Brabantia, Amazon, Dunelm and more

Nothing beats the smell of clothes dried on a washing line outside. Yet in Britain, it’s just not practical to rely on fresh air year-round, and a tumble dryer is not the best choice for the planet either.

In fact, it’s estimated that switching to drying outside or on an airer could save 36kg of carbon from being released into the atmosphere each month while helping you save money on your energy bills.

The trick is to consider what works best for the space you have available. The days of a one-size-fits-all clothes horse are long gone and it’s now possible to buy airers and drying racks that can be wall-mounted, fit over stair balconies or on the back of doors, and even ones that are heated for super-speedy drying.

Capacity varies so think about whether you want to dry a whole load for the family or just a few items each week. Items will dry more quickly if they’re not crammed together so it’s never a good idea to buy a smaller airer than you think you’ll need.

How we tested

We tested every airer and rack with an average 8kg washing machine load of clothes, including heavier towels and jeans and smaller items like socks. For each, we tested how quickly our clothes dried but also how easy it was to assemble and hang clothes on, how sturdy it seemed and how convenient it was to use around the house. Whether you need to dry clothes in your bathroom or have a palatial utility room with plenty of space, we have the clothes airer or drying rack for you.

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The best clothes airers and drying racks for 2021 are:

  • Best overall – Dry:Soon 3-tier heated airer: £144.99,
  • Best multi-purpose – Brabantia Linn clothes rack: £130,
  • Best looking – Garden Trading extending clothes dryer: £139.99,
  • Best for hand washing – Brabantia hanging drying rack: £37.25,
  • Best for big loads – Addis 507938 deluxe superdry airer 11m: £35.17,
  • Best for speedy drying – JML A001249 dribuddi portable indoor electric clothes dryer: £69.99,
  • Best buy on a budget – Dunelm white deluxe 3 tier airer: £12,
  • Best in a bathroom – Metaltex gale over-the-door laundry dryer: £30.76,

Dry:Soon 3-tier heated airer

Best: Overall

Rating: 10/10

There’s a good reason why this heated airer from Lakeland has a cohort of devoted fans. Made of lightweight aluminium, the thermostatically-controlled heated bars help speed the drying process along so you won’t need to spend days with wet washing draped all over your living room.

It has 21m of drying space and can take 15kg of laundry, but we found it worked better with less and was especially good for smaller items or anything laid flat across the bars. If we left it overnight, even heavier jumpers were thoroughly dry as long as we avoided cramming the airer. To speed things further, dedicated Dry:Soon fans recommend buying the extra airer cover to keep the heat in (or covering the whole thing with a fitted sheet if you can’t face spending more cash).

As a real bonus, it even meant our clothes looked less creased once dry, so we could put them straight away without ironing. All this and it costs less than 6p an hour to run. Just be aware, it is very tall and, though it folds down to 8cm deep, you will need a decent space to stand it and somewhere to store it when not in use too. But for dry clothes year-round and considerably less ironing, it’s well worth the splurge.

Brabantia linn clothes rack

Best: For versatility

Rating: 8/10

There’s more to this clothes dryer than a rack to hang wet socks from. Although it is large so can’t be hidden away in a corner, this free-standing rail could come in handy anywhere in the house, with its two height-adjustable shelves, sturdy bamboo rod and black or white frame. It’s fairly straightforward to assemble (even for a self-professed DIY-phobe) and could easily work as a wardrobe in a bedroom or in a hallway to hang coats and bags.

If you want it for laundry, it has 12m of drying space and works really well with smaller items – though there wasn’t enough room to spread out larger clothes to really get them dry. However, the top rail was brilliantly useful for drying several shirts or dresses that needed to be on hangers as soon as they came out of the washing machine. If you’re constantly washing clothes for work, this will really make your life easier.

Garden Trading extending clothes dryer

Best: Looking

Rating: 8/10

You don’t need to sacrifice style for practicality with this wall-mounted rack, which is just about as chic as a clothes dryer can be. It comes in tasteful, go-with-anything charcoal or chalk and is made of birch plywood so it will look good whatever’s hanging from it. It has ten extending zinc rails for maximum space saving too, but folds up neatly against the wall when not in use, making it great for a utility room. It is on the heavy side though, so make sure your wall can take the weight before installing. It’s also best used for a handful of garments or hand washed items that need to be hung, as it won’t manage a full load.

We especially liked the fact it comes with a top shelf and six built-in pegs, so it’s useful (even if it’s not laundry day) for displaying kitchen items or hanging towels or bags.  Though it’s pricey, it’s a great all-in-one choice for anyone who doesn’t want wet laundry taking over their house.

Brabantia hanging drying rack

Best: For hand washing

Rating: 7/10

Though you’re obviously not going to fit a family-sized wash on this diddy rail, it’s fantastic for anyone desperately looking for somewhere to dry their delicates. The simple rail has 4.5m of drying space and fits on walls, doors and even balconies up to 11cm thick. Each side is covered with soft protective material to avoid damage to walls and the whole rail collapses after use so it can be stored away. It is easily adjusted to keep it perfectly horizontal and there’s a smart lock to remember the last setting so that it can be quickly hung-up next time.

We tried it over a door in our utility room for in-between washes when we only had a few items (hello last-minute school uniform) and even carried it to use outside on a sunny day. It worked best for us over a towel rail in the bathroom though, where the extra heat helped dry hand-washed items lying flat on the rails.

Addis 507938 deluxe superdry airer 11m

Best: For big loads

Rating: 9/10

This ingenious airer solves all sorts of drying problems you didn’t even know you had. With 11m of drying space, it expands outwards as well as up to really spread clothes out, meaning wet ones aren’t hung directly over others as with a traditional clothes horse. We found this made a huge difference to the speed clothes dried, and meant we could reach every item easily to check on drying, even when the airer was full.

There’s also a flat drying base at the bottom for clothes that need to be laid flat, an integrated footwear holder for shoes and a wash bag to protect delicates. We even found the overall shape of the airer made it easy to sling bed sheets over the top to dry, while it folds away neatly for easy storage and has a lock to keep it closed.

But the best bit? The handy wheels are surprisingly useful for moving the airer – even when fully loaded – from the washing machine to the warmest spot in the house, and even out in the garden if the weather’s good. An all-round laundry life-saver.

JML A001249 dribuddi portable indoor electric clothes dryer

Best: For speedy drying

Rating: 9/10

Sick of underwear hanging on every radiator in the house? Zip it away from prying eyes with this clever appliance which circulates warm air with a 1200W motor around a fabric pod. It’s a little challenging to assemble but then can hold up to 18 items, though we felt we got better results with less. The motor is extremely quiet, uses up to 25 per cent less energy than other dryers and it has a handy timer, which is great for drying clothes overnight. It’s also collapsible but we found it more convenient to find a spot where it could stay up all the time.

Though it doesn’t work for heavier towels and sheets, it’s a great way to dry smaller items in no time. We could put away freshly washed football kits after only an hour, while school uniforms took only a little longer – a godsend on a busy weeknight when you need clothes guaranteed for the next day. Better still, it can dry clothes that can’t go in the tumble dryer without any shrinkage and also vastly reduced creasing to help us ditch the dreaded ironing.

Dunelm white deluxe 3 tier airer

Best: Buy on a budget

Rating: 7/10

If you can’t bear spending any more money than necessary on a clothes airer, we don’t blame you. This no-nonsense clothes rail in white does everything you need for a bargain price, with non-scratch feet, an automatic locking device to keep it in place and three tiers to provide 14m of hanging space.

It’s extremely lightweight so it’s very easy to throw up whenever you need, although that does mean it’s a little flimsy when assembled. It works best if clothes are hung evenly on each side to stop it tipping over but there’s plenty of room to make sure everything dries properly. It’s a great choice if you’re short on space too, as it folds almost flat and can be stored very easily.

Metaltex gale over-the-door laundry dryer

Best: In a bathroom

Rating: 8/10

A must buy for a smaller property or student accommodation, this over-door dryer keeps laundry all in one place so it doesn’t take over the house. Made of matte silver metal, it hangs neatly over the door with rails for washing, but also folds flat when not in use so you can leave it where it is and don’t need to find somewhere to store it. The door can still be shut when the dryer’s in place too.

It would work particularly well in a bathroom, where it could double up as a towel rail. Though it can’t manage large items, we also found it useful to hang longer dresses and shirts on hangers on the top rail, and then fold in the lower two rails for more space. It’s especially fantastic over a shower door, where it’s handy for any items that are still dripping wet as you don’t have to dry the floor afterwards. An all-round space-saving wonder.

The verdict: Clothes airers and drying racks

Get clothes dry and away in no time with the Dry:Soon 3-tier heated airer, which holds plenty of washing, is cheap to run and even cuts down our much-hated ironing pile. If you just want space to spread everything out without the heat or hefty price tag, don’t hang around (sorry) and go for the clever Addis 507938 deluxe superdry airer. It holds almost everything, tucks away neatly and can be easily wheeled wherever you need it.

Voucher codes

For the latest discounts on clothes airers, drying racks and other home furniture offers, try the below links:

Supercharge your laundry routine with the best heated clothes airers that cut down on drying time

IndyBest product reviews are unbiased, independent advice you can trust. On some occasions, we earn revenue if you click the links and buy the products, but we never allow this to bias our coverage. The reviews are compiled through a mix of expert opinion and real-world testing.