Fed up of using expensive tumble dryers that shrink your clothes? Our guide will help you find the best clothes airer to dry your washing
Drying laundry is never going to be an exciting task, but finding the best clothes airer for your living situation can really ease the burden. Oftentimes, people are put off from investing in clothes airers because they can be bulky, flimsy and take longer to dry your clothes than tumble dryers. But using a sturdy clothes airer with plenty of drying space can reduce the size of both your energy bill and your carbon footprint – and let’s not forget, not every item of clothing you own can be dumped in the tumble dryer.
So if you’re willing to compromise on time to help save the planet (or if you’re sick of tumble dryers shrinking your clothes) you’ve come to the right place. This guide features some of the best clothes airers for your every need. Whether you are washing for a family of five, or you’re living in a small studio flat with very little floor space, we’ve got you covered. You can also take a look at our buyer’s guide to get some top tips for your first purchase.
Best clothes airer: At a glance
How to choose the best clothes airer for you
What different clothes airers are available?
When it comes to finding a clothes airer, there are so many options to choose from that it can be hard to know where to start. The most important things to consider are how much floor space you have available, and the size of your average load of washing. This will dictate what style of clothes airer you go for. We’ve written a quick summary of the main types of clothes airer below.
Gated: Aptly named, these airers resemble fences and fold out to stand in a concertina. These are normally the cheapest clothes airers and are popular with students because they’re functional and don’t take up much space in storage. However, this design hasn’t made it into our best buy roundup because they tend to be flimsy and unstable.
Tiered: These collapsible airers fold out to form a cross-like structure that can support heavier weighted clothes whilst taking up very little floor space. They’re compact, sturdy, and (depending on the number of tiers) can hold a whole family wash.
Winged: Like tiered airers, these can hold large amounts of washing but they take up a little more floor space. They consist of an X-frame structure in which the two upper arms can be adjusted to fit longer garments. It is this adjustability that makes this style of airer so popular.
Tower: Without a doubt, tower airers are the best for big families who produce a lot of washing. They have the largest drying space of all the airers and despite this, they’re easily collapsible and don’t take up a huge amount of space. Only drawback is that the hanging bars tend to be less strong for hanging heavy fabrics like denim.
Over-door and over-radiator: These clothes airers do exactly what they say on the tin – hang over doors and radiators, making them perfect if you live somewhere with little floor space. They also harness the heat from your radiators, so they’re great at drying clothes in the winter. However, they have far less hanging space than free-standing clothes airers, despite being generally cheaper.
Heated: Whilst they are much more expensive than your standard clothes airer, heated airers can hugely cut down on drying time. These resemble tiered or winged airers, and are plugged into the mains to heat up each drying rung. Additionally, they’re less expensive to run than tumble dryers and are gentler on your clothes.
Hanging: These dryers are smaller structures that can be hung with a hook onto anything from door frames to clotheslines. Most importantly, they have pegs attached to them, which are perfect for drying socks and delicates.
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How much should I be spending?
With clothes airers, you can pick up very cheap options at most major supermarkets, but these are often flimsy and break easily. Sure, they’d do the job but they’re certainly not ‘the best’ considering you could have to repurchase them more often.
That’s why we’d recommend spending a little more money to find the right clothes airer. Even our budget option comes with a 3-year manufacturers guarantee, so you can be sure it’s not going to fall apart or collapse every time you put a heavy pair of jeans on it. Most good airers range from £20 to £35, but really cheap options cost well below this, and higher-end models can cost upwards of £100.
What are the key features to look out for?
Drying space: This is one feature of clothes airers that you don’t want to overlook. This is the total length of all the drying rungs added together as if they formed one long clothesline. Obviously, if you’re a big family you’ll want more drying space, but if you’re living alone this could be something you can compromise on.
Collapsible size: Let’s face it, clothes airers aren’t good looking. Most people want a clothes airer they can stash away in storage when they’re not in use. Pay attention to the collapsible size of the clothes airer you’re considering so that you know you can fit it inside a cupboard or under a bed.
Weight: This is a feature of clothes airers that can be useful at both extremes. Something lightweight will be perfect for people who need easy portability, or those who struggle to carry heavy loads. However, if you’re considering using your airer both indoors and outdoors, it could be wise to purchase a heavier airer so that it won’t blow over in windy weather.
Guarantees: As mentioned before, finding a clothes airer with a good warranty is always beneficial because if and when it does break, you’re covered. Keep an eye out for this when purchasing an airer.
Other features: Added touches like wheels for portability, shoe racks and attachable laundry bags can be really useful if you’re looking for convenience and mobility.
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The best clothes airers you can buy in 2023
1. John Lewis 3-Tier Heated Indoor Clothes Airer: Best heated clothes airer
Price when reviewed: £100 | Check price at John Lewis
This heated clothes airer doesn’t just offer plenty of drying space – carrying 5kg of laundry per shelf – but it heats up and dries your clothes much quicker than a standard airer. If you’re pushed for time when drying laundry, then it’s definitely worth forking out on this.
The airer is mains powered, heating up to surface temperatures of 40 to 50℃ and costs a fraction of what it costs to run a tumble dryer, which is harsher on your fabrics. It is also made out of a robust aluminium alloy, making it sturdy and lightweight. John lewis has also added some versatility to the design; the three tiers open independently allowing different shelves to dry either larger bed sheets or lots of clothing. The integrated heated shoe rack will also come in handy after wet walks.
If this heated clothes airer isn’t right for you, check out our roundup of the best heated clothes airers for some more great options.
Key specs – Type: Heated; Open dimensions: 135 x 66 x 72.8cm (HWD); Closed dimensions: 140 x 66 x 7cm (HWD); Drying space: 15m; Weight: 5.5kg; Guarantee: 2 years
2. Vileda Mixer 3 airer: Best airer for big washes
Price when reviewed: £39 | Check price at Amazon
This airer has the most drying space of any on our best buy list, while also being one of the most sturdy tower airers we’ve seen. This makes it perfect for families who get through a lot of washing. The wheels on the base make it easy to move around if you need to, and it can be partially open if you’ve got less washing so that it doesn’t take up too much floor space. With an additional small laundry holder for delicates and extra space for hangers, you’ll never have too much washing for this Vileda airer.
Key specs – Type: Tower; Open dimensions: 132 x 71 x 71cm (HWD); Closed dimensions: 132 x 71 x 5cm (HWD); Drying space: 30m; Weight: 2.85kg; Guarantee: 3 years
3. Metaltex Gale airer: Best airer for homes lacking in floor space
Price when reviewed: £56 | Check price at Amazon
Compact and collapsible, this airer can fit over a door, a balcony or a shower screen so that you’ll barely notice it’s there. It has 11 metres of hanging space, which is more than any other over-door airer we’ve seen and it’s built sturdy enough to take a full load of laundry. With this, there’s no need to have air-drying clothes taking up space on the floor for days, and when you’re done drying it folds away like the other airers. It is a little on the pricey side, though, but that means it has a great build quality, more drying space, and will save you from having to repurchase cheaper alternatives when they inevitably fall to pieces.
Key specs – Type: over-door; Open dimensions: 87 x 58 x 31cm (HWD); Closed dimensions: 87 x 58 x 3.5cm (HWD); Drying space: 11m; Weight: 1.9kg; Guarantee: 2 years
4. Brabantia Radiator airer: Best radiator-mounted airer
Price when reviewed: £33 | Check price at Amazon
If you’re thinking about buying a heated airer, but you don’t want to spend the extra money, then this Brabantia radiator airer is just the thing you need. It hangs onto your radiator, allowing you to harness the heat without completely preventing the radiator from heating your home. This costs more than your standard radiator airers, but it’s built really solidly and has a decade-long guarantee so you won’t have to worry about it snapping under heavy loads. It’s also great for travel because the arms fold down for packing, and it can hang from balconies and bannisters.
Key specs – Type: Over-radiator; Open dimensions: 29 x 68 x 44cm (HWD); Closed dimensions: 3.5 x 68 x 44cm (HWD); Drying space: 4.5m; Weight: 1.3kg; Guarantee: 10 years
5. Addis deluxe superdry airer: Best airer for indoor and outdoor use
Price when reviewed: £50 | Check price at Amazon
Don’t be put off by the complicated look of this steel airer, it’s actually really simple to fold up and away. As the heaviest standard airer on our best buy list, it’s perfect for drying indoors and outdoors. Aside from having lots of hanging space, you can be sure this airer won’t fall to pieces or topple over in the wind. It’s also got wheels to move it around, shoe stands, and a useful net that doubles up as a laundry bag – Addis really has thought of everything.
Key specs – Type: Winged; Open dimensions: 108 x 62 x 60cm (HWD); Closed dimensions: 110 x 62 x 8cm (HWD); Drying space: 11m; Weight: 4.2kg; Guarantee: 3 years
6. Stainless Steel sock drying rack: Best airer for delicates
Price when reviewed: £9.99 | Check price at Amazon
This ingenious design is perfect for drying socks and delicates separately from the rest of your washing. Unlike floor-standing clothes airers, this has a hanger-style hook at the top which can be hung around the house or even on a regular outdoor clothesline. It’s compact, lightweight and sturdier than plastic frame hanging airers owing to its windproof stainless steel frame. The swivel design of the hook allows it to spin around in the wind, evenly drying your delicates and, with 36 clothes pegs, there’s plenty of drying space. There isn’t much more you could ask for in a delicates dryer.
Key specs – Type: Hanging; Open dimensions: 43 x 32 x 5cm (HWD); Closed dimensions: N/A; Drying space: 36 pegs; Weight: 570g; Guarantee: no
7. Addis Deluxe 3 tier airer: Best value airer
Price when reviewed: £35 | Check price at Amazon
If you’re looking for value for money, this airer’s got enough space to dry 15kg of laundry, loads of drying space, and a really compact design. In fact, it only takes up 60 x 59cm floor space when it’s open. They’ve even added some anti-crease bars, corner hooks and easy-glide feet to make life a little easier, and to give extra hanging space if you need it. Just like the other Addis airers, it’s guaranteed for three years, has a lock and an anti-collapse mechanism so it won’t collapse on you. It’s a great all-rounder.
Key specs – Type: Tiered; Open dimensions: 140 x 59 x 60cm (HWD); Closed dimensions: 58 x 77 x 7cm (HWD); Drying space: 14m; Weight: 3.6kg; Guarantee: 3 year
8. Addis X Wing Airer: Best budget clothes airer
Price when reviewed: £25 | Check price at The Range
This airer has a generous 13.5m of drying space, which is more than enough space for a family load. It’s winged, so it has adjustable arms that can lift to accommodate longer items or fold down to save space. It also comes with handy corner hangers that can be used to hold a delicates dryer, or even to dry shirts using clothes hangers. The only sacrifice you’ll need to make is that it’s not as sturdy as more expensive clothes airers on the roundup, which means you’ll need to be careful not to snap the thinner bars with really heavy items such as dripping wet beach towels – items such as these would be best draped over multiple bars. At a fraction of the price of the other airers, though, this one’s a no-brainer.
Key specs – Type: Winged; Open dimensions: 143 x 60 x 100cm (HWD); Closed dimensions: 104 x 60 x 9cm (HWD); Drying space: 13.5m; Weight: 2.8kg; Guarantee: 3 years