drying clothes by hanging over radiator

Why Shouldn’t You Dry Clothes on Radiators?

When it’s wet and rainy outside, putting clothes on the radiator might seem like a great idea. Radiators dry your clothes quickly so you don’t get the dreaded musty smell, and it means you can get through more loads of washing. 

But is it really such a great idea? Here’s a look at why you shouldn’t dry your clothes on radiators, and the problems it can cause. 


Is it OK to Dry Clothes on a Radiator?

drying clothes in radiator

It is never a good idea to dry clothes on a radiator, despite what you might have seen many people do. Radiators will dry the clothing quickly, but you’ll be storing up potential problems in your home. 

The moisture from the wet clothing has to go somewhere; it doesn’t just magically vanish. 

When you use a radiator to dry clothes, the moisture enters the air. This can lead to condensation in your home, and ultimately black mould. 

Modern homes are especially vulnerable to condensation and mould because double glazing and better insulation means that there’s no air escaping. 

This seals in stale air and when that air becomes damp, condensation and mould are the result. 

Persistent condensation and mould can lead to peeling wallpaper and rotting plaster which is costly to correct. But even more importantly, it can cause serious health problems such as asthma and other respiratory diseases. 

In extreme cases, mould can lead to aspergillosis, an unpleasant condition which can require extensive hospital treatment. 


Can Clothes Set on Fire on a Radiator?

clothes on radiator

The fire risk from radiators is relatively low but it’s not impossible. They are not designed for clothing or other items to be draped over them and doing so increases the risk.

Plug in, electric radiators are a bigger risk than gas central heating radiators. Electric radiators can overheat far more easily so the risk of a fire is greater. 

You should never use an electric radiator to dry clothing, even when you’re in the same room. A fire can take seconds to ignite and due to the flammable nature of clothing can grow very big, very quickly.

Radiators attached to a gas central heating system are lower risk, but it’s still not a good idea. If they start to malfunction, or dust accumulates inside, it could potentially ignite clothing which is covering the radiator. 


What Are the Alternatives to Drying Clothes on a Radiator?

Alternatives to Drying Clothes on a Radiator

1. Clothesline

The ideal way to dry most clothing is outside on a clothesline. However, if the weather isn’t suitable or you don’t have access to an outside space it is possible to dry your clothes inside.

2. Tumble dryer

A tumble dryer is one of the best options when drying inside, but this can be expensive and isn’t suitable for all types of fabric. Heated and non-heated clothes airers are also good choices.

3. Utility room

A dedicated laundry area, such as a utility room, can be a good alternative to drying clothes outside. It should be well-ventilated with windows and an extractor fan. 

4. Heated towel rail

A heated towel rail can be used safely in this type of room and will dry clothes as quickly as a radiator. However, as it is designed to be draped with towels (or clothing) it doesn’t have the same safety risk, and the presence of ventilation will prevent condensation or mould.

5. Bathroom with extractor fan

If you don’t have a laundry or utility room, a bathroom with an extractor fan is another good option.