How Does a Ventless Dryer Work?

February 5, 2024
Dryer Repair

While most dryers have vents to the outside, these are not always possible in every living situation. People who live in high-rise apartments or rental properties may prefer ventless dryers, as they require less work to install. If you’re considering getting a ventless dryer for your home but are not sure how it works, we’ve got you covered! We’ll break down everything you need to know about getting a ventless dryer, including when to choose one and the different types available. 

What Are Ventless Dryers?

Ventless dryers are an alternative to the more common vented dryers, which means you can dry clothes without using an external vent. This makes them the ideal choice for certain living situations, such as apartment buildings that don’t already have a vent installed. Because they’re designed for urban living, they’re often smaller than traditional dryers and have good energy efficiency ratings. 

How Do Ventless Dryers Work?

Because ventless dryers are not able to expel the moist air outside, they need to recirculate the air and reuse the moisture. They still operate by tumbling the clothes with heated air, like traditional dryers, but the difference lies in what happens to that moist air afterward. 

As the clothes are heated and the moisture is released into the air inside the dryer, a moisture removal process then has to occur. The water is condensed into a tank that will need to be emptied after the dryer cycle is finished. In some models, the air is repeatedly heated and cooled to cause the condensing process, while in others the warm air is recycled. 

What Are the Types of Ventless Dryers?

There are two main types of ventless dryers—heat pump dryers and condenser dryers. While they both work via a similar mechanism, heat pump dryers tend to be more energy efficient.

Heat Pump Dryers

Heat pump dryers are a type of condenser dryer, but they operate a little more efficiently. They use a heat pump to warm and cool the air, which condenses into water. A heat pump dryer tends to run at a lower temperature than other types of dryers, which is gentler on your clothes. Although they’re more expensive than other dryers to purchase upfront, they are highly energy efficient and save money long term. One downside is that thanks to the lower temperatures, they take longer to dry clothes, which can be an issue if you’re in a hurry!

Condenser Dryers

Condenser dryers also extract water from warm air, but they don’t reuse heat, making them less energy-efficient than heat pump dryers. They collect water in a tank that can then be emptied or drained. They dry clothes faster than heat pump dryers and operate at higher temperatures, although they do have a higher energy consumption. 

Pros and Cons of Ventless Dryers

As with any appliance, ventless dryers have advantages and disadvantages. Let’s break this down.


  • No need to vent: This is the most important thing for many owners of ventless dryers—there is no need to vent them. This makes it easier to install in apartments and other living situations in which venting would be impossible. 
  • Save energy: All types of ventless dryers, but particularly heat pump dryers, are more efficient than vented dryers. This means lower energy bills—and they’re better for the environment!
  • Protect your clothes: Ventless dryers operate at lower temperatures, which reduces wear and tear on your clothes—particularly the delicate fabrics. 
  • Compact: Ventless dryers are ideal for small homes because they’re generally smaller than traditional dryers. 


  • Drying takes longer: Ventless dryers take longer to dry clothes, which can be inconvenient, especially for large households or people with small children. 
  • Need to empty the tanks: Ventless dryers require more maintenance in the form of emptying the water tanks.
  • Expensive: Ventless dryers are more expensive, particularly the more efficient heat pump models. 
  • Smaller: Ventless dryers are almost always smaller than vented dryers, which can be difficult for larger households.
  • Humidity issues: Although ventless dryers aim to collect the water emitted from the clothes, they can sometimes release a portion of the humidity into the room. This can lead to a humid environment and even dampness and mildew forming. 
  • Overheat your environment: Some ventless dryers emit heat into the room, which can overheat your apartment—particularly an issue in warmer weather.

Getting the Most Out of a Ventless Dryer 

If you do choose to purchase a ventless dryer, it’s crucial to do regular maintenance to get the most out of your purchase.

  • Clean the filter regularly: Ensure you regularly clean the lint filter to maintain your dryer’s efficiency.
  • Empty the water collection tank every use: Ensure you empty the water before the level gets too high to maintain optimum performance. 
  • Don’t overload: Ventless dryers have a smaller capacity than traditional dryers, so you may need to dry your laundry in multiple loads. 
  • Use in a ventilated room: If you’re using a condenser model, ensure the room is well-ventilated as some moisture may end up in the air. 
  • Spin the clothes before drying: Ensure you use a high spin speed to help the drying process go faster. 
  • Keep the dryer cool: Excess heat in your home can make the condensing process more difficult. 
  • Try dryer balls: Wool or rubber dryer balls help cut down drying time and save energy. 

Use automatic settings: Many condenser dryers automatically detect when a load of laundry is dry, which helps them not to run for too long.


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