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What is a Drying Cabinet?

A drying cabinet is a wardrobe-style drying system made to dry delicate items not recommended for tumble dryer use. Drying cabinets are a faster alternative to clotheslines and help preserve clothing and garments that require special handling and care. Over time, conventional tumble dryers can cause delicate items to fade. Drying cabinets help keep clothing fresh and vibrant. Compared to traditional dryers, drying cabinets also use less energy to get the job done.

How dryer cabinets work

Drying cabinets work by pulling in outdoor or indoor air to dry clothes. They also come with a control panel that gives users the option of heating the air used to dry their delicate items.  Many dryer cabinets are designed with hanger rods and dryer racks so users can choose between hanging their delicate clothing or laying them flat to dry. Since the clothes are hung to dry, they come out wrinkle free. The racks within a drying cabinet are adjustable, allowing the user to control the amount of humidity used to dry the clothes placed on the shelves.

Uses for drying cabinets

Drying cabinets became popular in Europe years before reaching many other countries. European laundromats and dry cleaning services used drying cabinets to handle their customers’ delicate items. Many laundry services believed dryer cabinets were gentler on clothing than a traditional tumble dryer and allowed the color and fabric to stay vibrant longer.

In the United States, drying cabinets were first used only in hospitals and laboratories. Since then, the cabinets have gained popularity throughout the country. Drying cabinets are now in many homes where they are used to dry items not recommended for tumble dryers.

Exploring the benefits of using a dryer cabinet

For consumers who prefer to be eco-friendly when possible, dryer cabinets are made of 100 percent recyclable materials and use 10 percent less energy than traditional clothes dryers.

Use dryer cabinets for multiple items

While traditionally drying cabinets were used to dry only items not recommended for tumble dry, dryer cabinets can now be used to dry nearly any type of garment.

  • Wool
  • Silk
  • Suede
  • Leather
  • Delicate under-garments
  • Business suits and dresses
  • Everyday attire
  • Snow and rain gear
  • Shoes and boots

Other benefits of drying cabinets

The appliance works faster than a clothesline. It also reduces wrinkles by not allowing the items to sit in the bottom of a tumble dryer. Drying cabinets are easy to maintain and reduce shrinkage. They are energy efficient and offer several drying options, including a shoe rack.

Understanding the disadvantages of dryer cabinets

Drying cabinets are still considered extravagant appliances and not easily found in appliance stores. Dryer cabinets are also more expensive than traditional tumble dryers. While many dryers fit right under the laundry room cabinets, dryer cabinets require more space when installed. They may take up as much room as a refrigerator.  Smaller drying cabinets are available, but their capacity is also smaller.

There is no quick dry option when using a dryer cabinet, especially with heavier items such as blankets, jeans or sweaters. Most cabinet dryers take an hour or longer to dry clothes fully. Another disadvantage is that many appliance repairmen do not have extensive knowledge when it comes to repairing dryer cabinets.

Drying cabinets versus other drying options

Not a lot has changed since the first European dryer cabinets were made. They are still considered safer for delicate clothing than the traditional tumble dryers. Socks and other garments often get lost or damaged in a tumble dryer. Unlike conventional dryers, drying cabinets use only air circulation to dry clothes instead of a tumbling action. Therefore, there is less chance of harming fabrics dried with a dryer cabinet.

Many people are accustomed to being able to dry a single outfit when using a tumble dryer. With drying cabinets, quick dry is not an option. Dryer cabinets and tumble dryers use about the same amount of energy when fully loaded. However, for washing delicates, using only the dryer cabinet is far more cost effective. Dryer cabinets are usually an addition to and not a substitute for a tumble dryer.

One benefit to using a dryer cabinet versus a tumble dryer is less noise. Drying cabinets tend to be quieter than conventional clothes dryers.

Using clotheslines versus dryer cabinets

Drying clothes on a clothes line is still a cheaper eco-friendlier way to dry linens on a fair-weather day. However, drying cabinets can be used no matter what type of weather the season brings. It can be next to impossible to hang certain garments, shoes, or boots on a clothesline; a drying cabinet has plenty of spaces and options for drying nearly all articles of clothing.

Building your own drying cabinet

As mentioned before, dryer cabinets can be expensive to purchase. Follow these steps to build your own dryer cabinet.

  1. Place an upright wooden cabinet in the laundry room in front of an electrical plugin and a floor drain.
  2. Use a drill to create two holes in the back of the cabinet: one big enough for a dehumidifier power cord and another big enough for the drain hose.
  3. Place a dehumidifier in the middle of the cabinet floor; be sure the dehumidifier is centered.
  4. Push the dehumidifier’s power cord through a hole in the back of the cabinet and the drain hose out the second hole. Run the other end of the drain hose to the floor drain.
  5. Place one metal rack about eight inches over the dehumidifier to prevent clothes from falling onto the dehumidifier. Attach the desired amount of racks above the dehumidifier’s protection rack.
  6. Place a hanging rod horizontally across the top of the cabinet for hanging clothes. Hang clothing on clothes hangers then hang them on the rod. Place shoes, boots or other articles of clothing flat on the drying racks. Turn on the dehumidifier and close the dryer cabinet door.
  7. Check the clothes in an hour or two.  If the clothes are still damp, adjust the dehumidifier settings. You should also check the drain hose to see if it is draining properly.

Dryer cabinet sizes

There are many options when choosing what size dryer cabinet to build or buy. People who live in small studio apartments may choose to utilize a small space under a kitchen cabinet or bathroom vanity. For people who need a bigger cabinet, using a walk-in closet or small room may be best. Drying cabinets can be made to fit any sized room or family needs.

Drying cabinets provide a great alternative to using tumble dryers or even outside clotheslines. It is nice to know that you can get the same clothesline freshness without ruining clothes like sometimes occurs in a tumble dryer. 

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