Author Topic: Can I make an old dryer more efficient?  (Read 12314 times)

netskyblue

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Can I make an old dryer more efficient?
« on: May 23, 2013, 12:23:14 PM »
I live in an apartment.  We are lucky that we have a washer/dryer in the unit, rather than having a shared coin-operated washer/dryer, but our dryer is so OLD and doesn't dry very well.  I really think it's a large part of the reason our energy bill is $80-$90/month.  Most loads (and not super-huge loads, either) take 2 or even 3 cycles to dry.  We always empty the lint trap.

I've started hanging my work dress clothes back up after I come home in the evenings, to be worn a few more times before washing, as they aren't really dirty, but my BF's work clothes (he's a chef) get filthy, greasy, & sweaty, and need washing every wear. 

I know our dryer has a white OLD vinyl hose (vent duct?  Not sure of the term) that truly starts to crumble if you touch it.  It's not even secured to anything - just pressed against a hole in the wall.  I know that those old ones aren't considered very safe, and most people have the ones that look like tinfoil.  (You can see how handy I am - NOT!)  Is this something I could replace myself, and would it make a real difference in energy efficiency?  Is there anything else I can do to this dryer?

olivia

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Re: Can I make an old dryer more efficient?
« Reply #1 on: May 23, 2013, 12:28:22 PM »
Can you talk to the landlord about replacing that hose?  Or the maintenance person if there is one?  I'm not super handy but I don't think a hose should be difficult to replace.  If I recall correctly they attach with little metal clamp type things so I don't think you need to do much.

As far as saving on energy, can you get a drying rack and hang dry some or most of your clothing after you wash it?

netskyblue

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Re: Can I make an old dryer more efficient?
« Reply #2 on: May 23, 2013, 12:36:24 PM »
As far as saving on energy, can you get a drying rack and hang dry some or most of your clothing after you wash it?

I like the idea in theory, but we have 3 cats.  I find the dryer to be the only thing that gets fur off of clothes.  And damp clothes?  The kitties Loooove to sit on those.  They always find my hand knit sweaters when I've got them laid out to dry!

When I get a house (my dream!) I want to have an outdoor clothesline.

madage

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Re: Can I make an old dryer more efficient?
« Reply #3 on: May 23, 2013, 12:44:39 PM »

I know our dryer has a white OLD vinyl hose (vent duct?  Not sure of the term) that truly starts to crumble if you touch it.  It's not even secured to anything - just pressed against a hole in the wall.  I know that those old ones aren't considered very safe, and most people have the ones that look like tinfoil.

You might find having this replaced makes a big difference. If the vent is blocked, the moist air has no where to exit and efficiency goes way down. Ask your landlord to replace with rigid metal duct, which is not as susceptible to blockages and a lot more durable than the flexible foil ducts.

smalllife

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Re: Can I make an old dryer more efficient?
« Reply #4 on: May 23, 2013, 12:53:53 PM »
As far as saving on energy, can you get a drying rack and hang dry some or most of your clothing after you wash it?

I like the idea in theory, but we have 3 cats.  I find the dryer to be the only thing that gets fur off of clothes.  And damp clothes?  The kitties Loooove to sit on those.  They always find my hand knit sweaters when I've got them laid out to dry!

I found a lint roller to solve the cat issue.  That was back when I had a folding rack (now I hang the clothes up on the hangers to dry - high enough that there is no cat hair).  Most of my cat hair was from the cats rubbing up against the drying clothes though . . . .


olivia

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Re: Can I make an old dryer more efficient?
« Reply #5 on: May 23, 2013, 01:09:25 PM »
As far as saving on energy, can you get a drying rack and hang dry some or most of your clothing after you wash it?

I like the idea in theory, but we have 3 cats.  I find the dryer to be the only thing that gets fur off of clothes.  And damp clothes?  The kitties Loooove to sit on those.  They always find my hand knit sweaters when I've got them laid out to dry!

When I get a house (my dream!) I want to have an outdoor clothesline.

How about letting them line dry and then drying them just for a bit to get rid of the cat fur?  And then lint rolling if there's any left.  I sympathize, I have 3 long haired kitties!

I hate drying my clothes in the dryer because the heat breaks down the fibers and makes them look worn out so quickly.  My clothes very rarely look old or worn out because I wear them a few times before I wash them, and then I hang dry everything except workout clothes, PJs, and socks and underwear.  I told my sister to dry her clothes way less, and she was shocked at how new her clothes looked once she stopped drying them.  Oh and I only wash in cold water, which also saves energy as a bonus!

olivia

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Re: Can I make an old dryer more efficient?
« Reply #6 on: May 23, 2013, 01:11:01 PM »
Oh and one more thought-the second I walk in the door I put on house clothes so my work/nice going out clothes don't get covered in fur.  This helps my clothes stay kitty-fur free for the most part, unless they rub on my legs on my way upstairs!  :P

velocistar237

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Re: Can I make an old dryer more efficient?
« Reply #7 on: May 23, 2013, 01:47:18 PM »
A dryer duct is on the order of $8-20, depending on length. Replacing the duct is a matter of removing the old one, positioning the new one, and attaching it somehow. I bet your duct is pretty backed up. Not only does that waste energy, it's a fire hazard.

We got one of these. Regardless of whether you solve the duct problem, it could cut down on your drying time and lower your bill. They have a new one.

netskyblue

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Re: Can I make an old dryer more efficient?
« Reply #8 on: May 23, 2013, 01:59:29 PM »
A dryer duct is on the order of $8-20, depending on length. Replacing the duct is a matter of removing the old one, positioning the new one, and attaching it somehow. I bet your duct is pretty backed up. Not only does that waste energy, it's a fire hazard.

We got one of these. Regardless of whether you solve the duct problem, it could cut down on your drying time and lower your bill. They have a new one.

That's a useful looking gadget.  I wonder if I could use it for my hand knit sweaters.  I hand wash those, wrap them in a towel and step on them, before laying out to dry.  It doesn't get much water out, but using the dryer would felt them (wool).

Do you personally feel that yours is worth the price tag/makes up for itself in savings?

velocistar237

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Re: Can I make an old dryer more efficient?
« Reply #9 on: May 23, 2013, 02:38:15 PM »
Do you personally feel that yours is worth the price tag/makes up for itself in savings?

It's worth the price if you don't mind the extra work. For a typical family, it will pay for itself in about a year, even if you still use a dryer to finish drying after spinning, but it takes time to load and unload. Sometimes the water it squeezes out is pretty gross, so at least it's not in your clothes anymore.

It makes line drying practical indoors or in humid regions. It also helps reduce the amount of heat you would dump into your house, which lessens the load on the A/C or keeps your house cooler if you don't use A/C.

Frugal_in_DC

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Re: Can I make an old dryer more efficient?
« Reply #10 on: May 23, 2013, 02:52:14 PM »
Definitely ask the property owner to change the vent from vinyl to foil and to clean the dryer vent (the one you can't get to - probably ends in the attic, crawl space, etc.).  Explain your safety concerns.  I'm sure there is information online about this.  If the landlord won't do it, ask if you can do the work yourself or have it done by someone else and deduct the cost from your rent.  Check with your local city or county landlord/tenant office, if you have one, for guidance about the property owner's responsibilities to make sure the apartment is safe.

In terms of hanging up wet clothes, maybe try putting them on plastic hangers on the shower bar.  That's what we do sometimes.  If you run an extra spin cycle they will dry more quickly.

netskyblue

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Re: Can I make an old dryer more efficient?
« Reply #11 on: May 23, 2013, 03:21:33 PM »
I went ahead and shot the property manager an email to ask if they could do this, along with some other minor maintenance issues (leaky faucets, a holey window screen, and a toilet that leaks rusty water onto the floor).  While I was at it, I also requested permission to replace the thermostat with a programmable one if I buy it.  The one we have now is painted onto the wall, so I didn't want to remove it without permission.

We'll see how it goes :)

Spork

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Re: Can I make an old dryer more efficient?
« Reply #12 on: May 23, 2013, 03:44:01 PM »
Bare minimum is to get the vent cleaned.

I had one where the exit point had very little weather protection.  Tiny bits of lint fluff would hit a screen (designed to keep rodents out) and stick.  With time and water hitting it, this would turn into sort of a paper mache in about 6 months time.  You might check to see if you have a similar issue.

Rollin

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Re: Can I make an old dryer more efficient?
« Reply #13 on: May 23, 2013, 09:16:27 PM »
In addition to the potential blockage with the old vent (and the fire hazard!) you may need to do a thorough cleaning of the whole dryer.  Take off any panel you can (unplug first) and vacuum out what you can.  If you can get an air compressor you can blow out a lot of lint.  My guess is that the blower/fan is older and likely clogged as well.

Also, understand that much of the water is still in the clothes after washing (assuming that it is an older washer as well and doesn't spin fast enough to get more water out).  Have you thought of investing in your own washer or dryer?  Bring it with you if you are going to another place or buying a home?  Dryers aren't very expensive.  If you really wanted to you could get a front loading washer (especially if you pay your own water bill).  Ours uses only a few gallons of water as opposed to 20+ per load and spins most of the water out so the dryer doesn't work too hard.  They have done thousands of loads and lasted about 10 years already (I replaced a water pump after it was clogged by a washed bathroom rug that disintegrated).

Just a thought.

frpeebles

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Re: Can I make an old dryer more efficient?
« Reply #14 on: May 23, 2013, 11:08:00 PM »
This isn't related to your primary problem but one might consider venting the drying into the house during the winter months. Dryers dump an absolutely massive amount of heat. There are products you can buy to catch the lint not caught by the filter in the machine or you can build what you need with a large box and a large $3 HVAC filter from the hardware store.

sol

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Re: Can I make an old dryer more efficient?
« Reply #15 on: May 23, 2013, 11:51:44 PM »
#1 tip for improving the efficiency of an old clothes dryer: unplug it.

Seriously, can someone here think of any other device that people pay exorbitant sums to purchase and operate which provides a service that otherwise automatically happens all by itself for free?

Much of the ethos around this place is centered around recognizing the silly and wasteful things we do for the sake of convenience, that really don't add much to our lives.  I think that paying to have your clothes warmed up before you put them on is about as close to literal bedpan and catheter territory as I can imagine.

Suck it up, people.  Line dry your clothes like your ancestors have done for the past ten thousand years.  Sheesh, one generation of decadent luxury appliances and suddenly everyone's a pansy.

BlueMR2

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Re: Can I make an old dryer more efficient?
« Reply #16 on: May 24, 2013, 08:10:40 AM »
I know our dryer has a white OLD vinyl hose (vent duct?  Not sure of the term) that truly starts to crumble if you touch it.  It's not even secured to anything - just pressed against a hole in the wall.  I know that those old ones aren't considered very safe, and most people have the ones that look like tinfoil.

The white vinyl ones aren't even legal many places anymore.  The "tinfoil" style is considered the bare minimum to safely get by, and the preferred way is to use smooth hard pipe (since it doesn't collect as much lint inside anywhere near as much as the flexible stuff).

jba302

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Re: Can I make an old dryer more efficient?
« Reply #17 on: May 24, 2013, 12:20:18 PM »
Unless you get a dryer with a heat pump on it (apparently has been in europe for a while and coming to the US), there isn't much to be saved. Water has to hit a certain temp to turn to steam, so your energy-in side isn't going to be changed in any really appreciable way other than cleaning the line so the moisture doesn't pull excess energy before escaping. Can always line dry and then put em in for 5 minutes to get the wrinkles out / soften up the clothes.

Rollin

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Re: Can I make an old dryer more efficient?
« Reply #18 on: May 25, 2013, 06:03:34 PM »
#1 tip for improving the efficiency of an old clothes dryer: unplug it.

Seriously, can someone here think of any other device that people pay exorbitant sums to purchase and operate which provides a service that otherwise automatically happens all by itself for free?

Much of the ethos around this place is centered around recognizing the silly and wasteful things we do for the sake of convenience, that really don't add much to our lives.  I think that paying to have your clothes warmed up before you put them on is about as close to literal bedpan and catheter territory as I can imagine.

Suck it up, people.  Line dry your clothes like your ancestors have done for the past ten thousand years.  Sheesh, one generation of decadent luxury appliances and suddenly everyone's a pansy.

+1 for sure.

velocistar237

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Re: Can I make an old dryer more efficient?
« Reply #19 on: May 25, 2013, 07:52:29 PM »
I tried line drying an entire load of laundry. I spun more than half a gallon of water out using the spin dryer for 3 minutes. Then I hung up the clothes in the basement (it was raining, and our "yard" is shared space anyway, in an area with medium crime) on a rack and on a clothesline. After 24 hours, the clothes were still damp. I could run a box fan for a few hours to speed up the drying, but at about a day, the electrical usage would approach what the dryer would use for a load after spinning. We already line dry items that dry quickly, and maybe we'll add to that the items that we don't need any time soon, and maybe clothes will dry faster in different weather, but in this climate and living situation, I don't think we'll entirely give up the dryer.

Rollin

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Re: Can I make an old dryer more efficient?
« Reply #20 on: May 26, 2013, 03:56:55 PM »
I tried line drying an entire load of laundry. I spun more than half a gallon of water out using the spin dryer for 3 minutes. Then I hung up the clothes in the basement (it was raining, and our "yard" is shared space anyway, in an area with medium crime) on a rack and on a clothesline. After 24 hours, the clothes were still damp. I could run a box fan for a few hours to speed up the drying, but at about a day, the electrical usage would approach what the dryer would use for a load after spinning. We already line dry items that dry quickly, and maybe we'll add to that the items that we don't need any time soon, and maybe clothes will dry faster in different weather, but in this climate and living situation, I don't think we'll entirely give up the dryer.

I air/line dry all my wool socks and synthetic shirts/underwear since they dry so quickly.  I find that they last much much longer than had I dried them.  I have some socks that are in great shape and are over 10 years old (I wear them often too).

jennipurrr

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Re: Can I make an old dryer more efficient?
« Reply #21 on: May 26, 2013, 04:15:19 PM »
What does your lease say?  Is a working dryer part of the agreement?  If the dryer is not drying properly you may be able to get the landlord to replace it.

If the changes to the vent don't help, and you can't get a new dryer provided, I wonder if the landlord would let you replace the dryer with one of your own.  Maybe they could store the old one somewhere if they want to keep it?  I found a fairly new washer/dryer set on craigslist for $150.  It may be worth it over the long haul if this is making a big difference in your energy usage.

Mr. Minsc

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Re: Can I make an old dryer more efficient?
« Reply #22 on: May 27, 2013, 06:30:10 AM »
I tried line drying an entire load of laundry. I spun more than half a gallon of water out using the spin dryer for 3 minutes. Then I hung up the clothes in the basement (it was raining, and our "yard" is shared space anyway, in an area with medium crime) on a rack and on a clothesline. After 24 hours, the clothes were still damp. I could run a box fan for a few hours to speed up the drying, but at about a day, the electrical usage would approach what the dryer would use for a load after spinning. We already line dry items that dry quickly, and maybe we'll add to that the items that we don't need any time soon, and maybe clothes will dry faster in different weather, but in this climate and living situation, I don't think we'll entirely give up the dryer.

Have you tried line drying your on a ground or above floor?  If it's an older basement it's certainly not sealed and insulated very well.  You can get moisture come up from the ground which will easily inhibit drying.  My parents basement had no foam insulation under the cement so dehumidifiers going to keep the moisture level down.

velocistar237

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Re: Can I make an old dryer more efficient?
« Reply #23 on: May 28, 2013, 08:20:39 AM »
Have you tried line drying your on a ground or above floor?  If it's an older basement it's certainly not sealed and insulated very well.  You can get moisture come up from the ground which will easily inhibit drying.  My parents basement had no foam insulation under the cement so dehumidifiers going to keep the moisture level down.

Our house is older, but the basement doesn't appear to have moisture issues. I'm thinking the weather was particularly bad the day I tried line drying. On that same day, we had condensation on our windows upstairs.

We used to keep our small drying rack in our mudroom, but it made the space awkward. We don't have much space for line drying otherwise. We will continue to line dry some things to reduce wear, and I'll try a full load again soon.

StarswirlTheMustached

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Re: Can I make an old dryer more efficient?
« Reply #24 on: May 28, 2013, 02:01:55 PM »
I tried line drying an entire load of laundry. I spun more than half a gallon of water out using the spin dryer for 3 minutes. Then I hung up the clothes in the basement (it was raining, and our "yard" is shared space anyway, in an area with medium crime) on a rack and on a clothesline. After 24 hours, the clothes were still damp. I could run a box fan for a few hours to speed up the drying, but at about a day, the electrical usage would approach what the dryer would use for a load after spinning. We already line dry items that dry quickly, and maybe we'll add to that the items that we don't need any time soon, and maybe clothes will dry faster in different weather, but in this climate and living situation, I don't think we'll entirely give up the dryer.
So you need to plan more than 24 hours ahead on your laundry? This does not seem like a great sacrifice.

sol

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Re: Can I make an old dryer more efficient?
« Reply #25 on: May 28, 2013, 04:10:16 PM »
So you need to plan more than 24 hours ahead on your laundry? This does not seem like a great sacrifice.

Why would I think more than a day ahead when I can just buy an $800 appliance that costs me $2 every time I use it? 

Let's see, my family averages four loads per week, that's $8*52=$416/year.  Is $400 per year too much to pay for the convenience of turning my brain off?  I might explode my little head if I have to think too hard.

Kriegsspiel

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Re: Can I make an old dryer more efficient?
« Reply #26 on: May 28, 2013, 05:30:33 PM »

velocistar237

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Re: Can I make an old dryer more efficient?
« Reply #27 on: May 28, 2013, 05:47:00 PM »
So you need to plan more than 24 hours ahead on your laundry? This does not seem like a great sacrifice.

True. I guess I'll have to buy a second pair of pants.

Kriegsspiel

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Re: Can I make an old dryer more efficient?
« Reply #28 on: May 28, 2013, 07:35:10 PM »
And with that $4, you can offset using a dryer after what, one week?  Werd...  I just use the $4 figure because that is what I got my new favorite Ralph Lauren pants for, so I know it's possible.

velocistar237

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Re: Can I make an old dryer more efficient?
« Reply #29 on: May 28, 2013, 07:56:55 PM »
Why would I think more than a day ahead when I can just buy an $800 appliance that costs me $2 every time I use it? 

Let's see, my family averages four loads per week, that's $8*52=$416/year.  Is $400 per year too much to pay for the convenience of turning my brain off?  I might explode my little head if I have to think too hard.

Like I said, we'll try to figure it out. If it was just me, I would put clotheslines in my living room and happily use them. My wife gets stressed almost every time I suggest a change like this, and if the suggestion comes from Jacob or MMM, the hurdles are even bigger. I offered to do the laundry myself, but she wants me free to work on other things.

And with that $4, you can offset using a dryer after what, one week?  Werd...  I just use the $4 figure because that is what I got my new favorite Ralph Lauren pants for, so I know it's possible.

Pants go for $5.50 around here. Higher COL area, you know.

meadow lark

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Re: Can I make an old dryer more efficient?
« Reply #30 on: May 30, 2013, 06:56:06 PM »
Did without a dryer for 4 years.  Line dried in the summer, installed a retractable clothes line (with 4 lines on it) over the bathtub for the winter.  Worked fine.  Saved money, primarily because we didn't buy a dryer.  Then we moved into a house with a nice wash and dryer.  Now I use the dryer.  Because I don't like to do laundry, and with 3 big dogs line drying leaves me covered in fur!  Maybe when I start working part-time, but at this point in my life the less time I spend on housework, the happier I am.

Matte

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Re: Can I make an old dryer more efficient?
« Reply #31 on: June 01, 2013, 11:01:02 PM »
might want to check the legality of flex dryer hose in your state/county, internet or call the fire dept.  my house had a similar problem when I first moved in, turned out the routing was over 50 feet with 6 bends and came disconnected and was filling a ceiling cavity with lint..... fire hazard.  I looked up my local codes and found out that the max a dryer pipe may be is 25 feet with 3 bends, no flex pipe.  I re-routed the pipes and connected with real metal tape (not duct tape wich is also not legal because after years it dries out and cracks) and the old dryer worked perfect.  That being said we reduce drying by about half with hang drying in the bathroom (shower rod and a bunch of coathangers work great).

netskyblue

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Re: Can I make an old dryer more efficient?
« Reply #32 on: June 03, 2013, 09:11:23 PM »
We got the hose replaced today, and I think our maintenance guy also cleaned out the duct leading outside.  Our ancient hose was over 4' long, and he replaced it with one that was less than 2', the foil type.  We did three loads of laundry tonight, and all three dried in one cycle (on the "more dry" setting, the '*' setting didn't quite make it dry).

I'm still considering the spin dryer.  I just don't know if the $145 price tag will pay for itself or not.

reverend

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Re: Can I make an old dryer more efficient?
« Reply #33 on: June 07, 2013, 02:02:25 PM »
I'm late to this thread, but I found that once in a while, pulling the dryer apart to clean all the lint out of IT (let alone the vent hose and out) helps. A lot of lint gets stuck in the dryer itself.

I'm sure all the "skip the dryer and hang it up" comments helped greatly with the actual answer to your question of making the dryer more efficient. hehe


George_PA

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Re: Can I make an old dryer more efficient?
« Reply #34 on: June 19, 2013, 03:52:13 PM »
I agree with Sol the best way to make it more efficient is to unplug.  If it belongs to your landload, then just let them deal with the dryer when you move out.  If you own the dryer, then just sell it on craigslist and free up some extra space.

Put up some clothes lines in your basement or indoors and/or get one of those unfolding things that you hang smaller clothes on to dry.

I do this at my place it can take 1-2 days but if you let them hang long enough they will eventually dry without any fan blowing on them.