Jun 18, 2023

Is it ever OK to leave your washing machine or dryer on while you’re out? Here's your answer

Attempting to get a few loads of laundry done during busy days is not uncommon, but is it really safe to leave your dryer or washing machine going during a quick trip down to the supermarket or even letting them run while you're getting some Zzz's?

Of course, sometimes you might think you're being more time efficient by multi-tasking the big chores, but it might be time for us to think again before we press the start button and walk away for an hour or so.

So, what are the consequences for leaving your whiteware on while you're away other than costing you a second mortgage in this whole cost of living crisis?

I’ve done some serious investigating to find out what you need to know about leaving your washer/dryer on when you’re not around and busting a few myths in the meantime.

Is it okay to leave your washer/ dryer on when you’re not home?

Obviously it’s almost always a fire risk letting the dryer run for extended periods of time especially when unattended, but something I certainly wasn’t aware of was that the same is at risk when letting the washer do a load while you pop out to run some errands.

While you don’t have to pull up a chair and stare at the machine Fire and Emergency NZ clearly warn against letting your white appliances run without being in attendance. This includes overnight usage.

They have previously said: “A clean dryer avoids fire.”

SOURCE: Fire and Emergency NZ

Their top tips are:

Check the lint filter is cleaned before every use, to avoid build-up and risk of overheating

The dryer isn’t overloaded with too much (this is relevant to the size of your machine)

There is enough space around the dryer to allow for proper venting out of your machine

The full cycle is used, including the cool down spin

What’s the cheapest way to wash and dry your clothes?

According to Consumer NZ, washing using a top loader with a cold wash proves to be the cheapest choice, costing only 5 cents per load. However if you’ve got a front loader it’s not far behind at 6 cents per load.

If you’re planning on doing a warm wash though the difference is a lot larger. Front load warm washes will cost you roughly 19 cents per load, with a top loader costing a whopping 31 cents. Overall I’d say the front loader is the way to go.

As for drying, the most cost-effective method is to use a heat pump clothes dryer, requiring just 25 cents per load compared to a vented and condenser dryer which cost double the dosh.

Energy Star revealed this is because “Rather than releasing warm, humid air through a dryer vent to the exterior of the home as a conventional dryer does, a heat pump dryer sends it through an evaporator to remove the moisture without losing too much heat”.

If you’re looking for an alternative to clothes dryers, a dehumidifier with a compressor can be a thrifty choice, costing just 5 cents per hour, while a desiccant dehumidifier is slightly more expensive at 11 cents per hour.

Most of the time, a dryer cycle may last for 20 minutes to an hour and a half depending on what your appliance offers.

Now that we've covered all the essential info, you can determine just how long you’ll need to stay at home to ensure your washer and dryer won’t pose risks to you or your family.

Oh, and hopefully we’ll make it out of this Cost of Living crisis without it costing an arm or leg for the sake of a load of laundry.