Clothes dryers: should you get one? And our review of the Rinnai RD-600CG gas dryer
While clothes dryers are very common in Europe and the US, they're rarer to find in Singapore. A common refrain is either that it's not necessary, or that it'll damage your clothes. This makes some sense in certain scenarios - certainly we don't have autumn and winter seasons where it's difficult to air dry clothes, and some clothes do get damaged by dryers.
We'll explain why it's worthwhile to get a clothes dryer, what not to put into clothes dryers, and what type of clothes dryer is better for you.
Clothes dryers are immensely convenient
The first thing a new homeowner will tell you, if they've started using a clothes dryer for the first time, is just how convenient it is to have one.
Having to hang clothes on poles outside your apartment, or on drying-racks outside your house is time-consuming and troublesome. You'll have to monitor your clothes, ensure they don't drop and, if it starts to rain, it's panic mode! You'll have to quickly bring your clothes inside.
Then there's also the time involved - you'll have to wait about 12 hours before all your clothes are dry. If the weather is particularly humid and the air is still or worse still, if it's raining, you'll have to wait much longer than that. Is this inconvenience really worth it?
On the other hand, clothes dryers work simply. Just put your wet clothes into them, set the drying mode, press start and that's it! Some hybrid clothes washer/dryer-hybrids even let you automatically schedule drying. Depending on the load of clothes and type of dryer, the clothes typically dry within 30 minutes to an hour.
When the dryer is done, you just take the clothes out and they're nice and warm, ready to be folded/ironed and kept!
Best of all, the bonus effect: your cotton T-shirts/shorts will literally steam/iron themselves and exhibit not signs of crumpling if you stretch them out while warm. The heat causes the fibres to loosen. As you stretch the clothes out, the fibres in the clothes hold their new straightened shape as they cool (they cool rapidly out of the dryer). Who knew dryers could iron your clothes too!
Bonus effect number 2: if you fold your towels tightly, they stay warm for a while. There's nothing better than stepping out of the shower on a cold evening into the warm embrace of a literally warm and fluffy towel.
The disadvantages of clothes dryers - power consumption
"With great power, comes great responsibility." Well, with great convenience also comes great power. Power consumption. Electric dryers use quite a bit of electricity, and usually use between 4,000W to 6,000W of power.
Our own gas dryer (the Rinnai RD-600CG) is rated at 16 MJ/h, which converts to about 4,583W of power, in addition to 280W of electrical consumption (for spinning the drum and its electronics, etc.).
As of October 2017, gas in Singapore is 18.92 cents/kWh, while electricity is 20.72 cents/kWh. If your electric dryer uses 5 kW (taking the average power rating) for drying, and it's used on average for an hour everyday, that's $1.04 per dry for your electric dryer. If you wash and dry your clothes once every 2 days, that's about $189 every year. For our gas dryer, which typically requires 45 minutes per drying session, that's $0.69 per dry. If we dry our clothes once every 2 days, that's about $126 every year.
Of course, these are very rough estimates. Also, there's a difference in calculation above (electric dryers typically have higher power ratings and run for about an hour whereas gas dryers typically run for about 45 minutes for the same load). We'll explain more below.
Will the dryer damage my clothes?
The short answer is, over time, yes. The dryer applies a relatively high heat to your clothes while twisting and turning them. Over time, some garments will exhibit pilling. Particularly delicate clothes might tear.
But these are the more extreme scenarios. The most often sort of damage you'll see are mildly frayed threads dangling.
It's important to remember that this sort of damage only happens over time. The majority of your clothes that are meant for the dryer won't show any damage whatsoever. But prolonged use of the dryer over months or years may cause the damage described above.
The question is, will you really use your clothes that long? It's likely that the colours would have faded because of repeated washing by then, or more likely than not, they've fallen out of fashion.
The moral of the story is this - don't put clothes you really love and want to wear forever into the clothes dryer.
What not to put in your clothes dryer
Here's a list of what not to put in the clothes dryer, because they get damaged exceptionally easily:
- Delicates: that's your bras, panties, tights, bathing suits and other delicate underclothes. I find that my men's briefs (made of nylon and a variety of synthetic materials) and undershirts hold up well and can be safely dried in the clothes dryer without getting damaged.
- Chiffon: they're likely to tear.
- Lace: they're also likely to tear.
- Silk (obviously)
- Wool and wool-blends
- Cotton socks (that aren't pre-shrunk): I'll never forget the heartbreak of looking at my Uniqlo Supima cotton socks come out of the dryer at half their size. If your socks are synthetic or pre-shrunk, then they're suitable for the dryer.
- Shoes: our clothes dryer was actually advertised with a shoe drying rack. The problem is that shoes frequently have components that are glued together. The glue might melt and the rubber might shrink.
- Anything glued: the glue might melt under the heat, and the garment might fall apart.
Note on cotton: cotton clothes work fabulously with the dryer, because the dryer helps "iron" them out if you stretch them out immediately after taking them out of the dryer. But the cotton clothes must be pre-shrunk. Most cotton clothes are pre-shrunk, but if they aren't, they might shrink quite a bit and you might be in for heartbreak.
What type of clothes dryer should I get?
The types and models of clothes dryers available in the market is actually very varied. But generally, I've noticed the following types of dryers:
Hybrid washing machine and dryer
These are probably one of the more popular types of clothes dryers to get. They have one obvious advantage - they save a lot of space because you only need 1 machine instead of 2.
Some even have the option of scheduling drying immediately after your clothes are washed. Be careful of this though, because you might have to sort through the clothes first before drying them or you might end up accidentally leaving garments in to dry that will get damaged (see above).
Also, clothes get tangled up while they're being washed. If you leave them tangled in the machine then dry them, the clothes might tug and pull on each other and cause damage.
Electric clothes dryers
This is the most common type of dedicated clothes dryer in Singapore. All dryers come with a vent for the hot, moist air to be expelled. You'll want to choose a dryer that has a lint filter that's easy to clean. If your dryer doesn't have a lint filter, you'll find a tremendous amount of dust flying around your house coming out from that vent.
Also, electric dryers are generally less efficient than gas dryers. Watt for watt, they use more power to dry the same load of clothes and take slightly longer. Also, electricity is more expensive in Singapore.
Gas clothes dryers
Unfortunately, as far as we're aware, there's only one gas dryer available in Singapore, the Rinnai RD-600CG gas dryer sold by CityGas. If you've read our review of our gas heater (the Macro MA-10FE), you'll know we love gas over electricity when it comes to heating things up - they're more efficient and cheaper in the long term.
It's the same for gas clothes dryers, they typically dry your clothes more quickly at a lower cost (because it uses less power over the long run).
Because gas heating is more efficient, it also means that your clothes will get dried more quickly (for the same power usage). This explains why, in our rough calculation above for costs of using clothes dryers, we used 45 minutes per load for a gas dryer but 60 minutes per load for an electric dryer.
The disadvantages of a gas clothes dryer are related to initial cost. Gas clothes dryers are typically more expensive than similar electric clothes dryers. In addition, you'll have to ensure you have a supply of gas to your clothes dryer - this involves ensuring that your house has a supply of gas and running pipes around your house to the gas dryer. But once its set up, you're all good to go.
For these reasons, we decided to go with a gas clothes dryer for ourselves. Read our review of the Rinnai RD-600CG gas clothes dryer here.