If You Dry Clothes On Your Radiator, We've Got News

I get it, I do – it’s cold, it’s wet, and the outdoor washing line isn’t an option (especially with all this rain). Many UK households don’t have a tumble dryer, and those that do are opting to use them less than last year to keep costs down.

So it’s no wonder then that so many of us become tempted to dry our sodden clothes on our radiators, right?

Unfortunately, medical experts have issued a warning as the drying practice can lead to the development of mould, which isn’t great news for our health.

In a BBC video, Professor David Dennings, director of the National Aspergillosis Centre, said this can be particularly dangerous to those suffering from respiratory conditions, like asthma.

He said one load of washing can release up to two litres of water, raising moisture levels by as much as 30%. This encourages the growth of all moulds, including potentially dangerous aspergillus.

Aspergillus is a type of mould that’s too common to avoid completely, the Centre for Disease Control (CDC) says. But “for people who have weakened immune systems, breathing in Aspergillus spores can cause an infection in the lungs or sinuses which can spread to other parts of the body,” it adds.

People who are particularly vulnerable to the mould, include:

  • Those with a lung condition – such as asthma, cystic fibrosis or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)

  • Those with a weakened immune system – for example, if you have had an organ transplant or are having chemotherapy

  • Those who previously had tuberculosis (TB)

  • Those with severe flu or coronavirus who need artificial ventilation.

What to do instead

The problem might not arise if you’re just drying a small item (or two) on your radiators, Professor Dennings said.

Instead, “it’s the regular business of drying your washing inside and not having the windows open” that can cause problems because there’s “no exit for all that dampness. That’s a big problem”.

If you have no option but to dry your clothes on a radiator, consider trying smaller loads and ventilating your space well.

Monaghan County Council suggests that “if you have to dry your clothes, put them in the bathroom with the door closed and window open or fan on”.

Or, if placing them in another room, be sure to shut the door and open a window, they add.

And Caroline Bloor, consumer director at Good Housekeeping, warns that “damp clothes should not be dried on storage heaters or convector heaters” at all, because this can be a fire hazard.

Well, I’m off to move some laundry...