With energy bills still eye-wateringly high, we are all looking for ways to keep a lid on the cost of drying clothes.
At the beginning of October, the price cap fell from £2,074 to £1,923, yet many families are still feeling the pinch when it comes to paying for their electricity and gas.
And even though inflation has fallen from 6.7% to 4.6%, lots of people are continuing to struggle.
With finances stretched to their limits, you may be boycotting your tumble dryer to avoid spending on the gas-guzzling device.
But you need to take extra care when drying your laundry indoors during the winter months, or you could end up with a costly mould problem, according to Thomas Bird, materials expert at Fabric Online.
He told The Sun: “Most of us know to use an airer instead of a tumble dryer to cut costs, but drying clothes in your home can significantly raise moisture levels in your home.
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"This can affect air quality and humidity – and lead to mould and mildew.”
Spores can grow on ceilings and walls, and you may start to notice fuzzy black, white or green patches.
Not only can this toxic fuzz be unsightly, but it can also impact your health.
Black mould can be especially harmful.
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What’s more, if you end up with a particularly bad case of mould across your entire property, you could face costs of between £800 and £1,000 to remove it, according to Checkatrade.
The good news is, Thomas says there are some simple steps you can take when drying your clothes inside to avoid causing dampness – and reduce the risk of finding yourself with a major mould problem.
1. Don’t put your airer in the basement
First off, you need to choose the right location for your airer.
“You want to find a well-ventilated room in your home, and preferably one with good air flow,” he said.
“Avoid damp or unheated spaces such as basements, as they can encourage the growth of mould.”
Placing your rack near a heater or radiator can help speed up the drying process.
Thomas added: “That way you can maximise the heat already in your home.”
Better still, if you haven’t already done so, consider investing in a heated airer that you plug in.
These gadgets cost from as little as 6p to run for an hour – compared to £1.35 to run the average tumble dryer for two hours – and can be a great way to dry your laundry for less.
There are some great-value models available from retailers such as Dunelm and Aldi.
Some models come with covers which will further reduce the time it takes to dry your clothes
2. Avoid overcrowding
Another important thing to avoid is cramming too many items onto each of the bars of your airer.
“Don’t overload your rack, as this will mean the clothes trap moisture and take longer to dry,” said Thomas.
“You need to spread your clothes out and make sure there’s enough space between items for air to circulate.”
3. Don’t leave windows closed
Tempting as it may be to keep your windows shut during the chilly winter months, you must not do this.
“Crack open a window or door so some fresh air can circulate while your airer is on,” said Thomas.
“This will help to prevent moisture from building up in your home.”
If your house or flat tends to be very humid, a dehumidifier can help remove excess moisture from the air.
Thomas added: “A box fan can also improve air circulation.”
4. Don’t ignore your laundry
Once you’ve hung your items on your airer, don’t forget about them.
“You need to keep checking on the clothes and giving them a shake,” said Thomas.
“This will prevent them from sticking together. Not only will this mean clothes dry more evenly, it also helps prevent mildew.”
5. Don’t rush the drying process
While you might be keen to get the laundry done and dusted, resist the temptation to try to do things too quickly.
“Drying clothes indoors may take longer than using a tumble dryer,” he said.
“This is especially the case in the winter. Allow enough time for your laundry to dry properly.”
Before putting clothes away, make sure they are completely dry.
Thomas added: “Even a small amount of residual moisture can lead to mould.”
More top tips to help keep mould at bay
Ventilation is key in the fight against mould, so be sure to allow fresh air to flow into your home as often as possible.
While this is trickier in the winter, it’s still important to open windows, even for short periods.
In addition, remember that cooking can create a lot of condensation.
Remember to use pan lids when you’re preparing meals to try and limit the amount of moisture getting into the air.
Keeping the inside of your home above 15°C is another way to prevent condensation from forming.
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