Air Drying in a Washing Machine: How It Works And Why You Need It

How to Use Air Drying in Washing Machine

Has someone ever recommended you try air-drying your clothes in the washer instead of buying a dryer unit? Or have you noticed the air-drying option in your appliance and were wondering what it was?

Either way, we’re here to talk to you about the air-drying feature on your washing machine!

Most modern washers have a built-in drying system that doesn’t require heating to work, which can save you energy, bills, and some effort — this is what air drying is about.

In this article, you’ll be learning what the craze over this feature is and how it can help you!

What is air drying in a washing machine and how does it work?

What is air drying in a washing machine and how does it work

Air drying is a method your washer uses to dry laundry without using heaters. It does by this running warm air over your clothes as the drum rotates.

Air currents are generated as the drum spins, while the vents around the drum draw in air from its surroundings to dry the load inside effectively.

Air drying typically happens toward the end of a spin cycle. It’s ideal for drying moisture on fabric or materials considered fragile against heating, such as temperature-sensitive (thermoset) fabric, plastic, or rubber.

Washers normally have at least one heating element for heating the water used in a cycle. 

Some washers, meanwhile, have an extra heating element for heating air. This type of washing machine often includes more than one drying option that utilizes said heating element.

The air drying function, as previously mentioned, does not use any type of in-house heating element — only air currents from your appliance’s immediate environment — so you’re free to try out this function as long as you’re using a modern washer!

This function only needs the appliance’s vents to work. As the washing cycle ends, the vents are opened to let in warm air from outside of the machine.

Your washer will continue to gently tumble the laundry inside to create a flow of air current that slowly dries the clothes.

But keep in mind that this function isn’t always a push of the button away. Activating it may vary depending on the model of the washer you’re using.

The biggest downside to this process is that it takes longer than spin-drying — or even hang-drying — but let’s not judge it based on the disadvantage yet. Let’s delve into its advantages first.

Did you know that air drying can protect your clothes from permanent staining or rapid shrinking? We’ve got a whole list on it below — keep reading to know more about it!

Quick Tip:
Before loading your clothes for air drying, make sure to check the labels first!
Some clothes may seem fit for air drying but are recommended by their brands for other options instead.
It’s better to go by this recommendation lest you damage the material.
Moreover, some tags include the ideal temperature and environmental conditions for optimal air drying, especially to avoid shrinkage.
Take care of your clothes; always read the tags!

How To Activate Air Dry Mode In Your Washer

How To Activate Air Dry Mode In Your Washer

Most washing machines either have a dedicated button for the air drying function.

This feature can be activated in LG, Whirlpool, GE, and Electrolux washers by pressing and holding the Spin or the Wash & Dry button.

Activating the air dry function may depend on the brand and model of the appliance that you’re using. We’ve gathered below a list of common washer models and how to activate the air dry function in them. 

Keep in mind that if you don’t find the brand you’re using in the list, or if your model has a different set of buttons, your washer’s user manual can always help you out.


Toward the end of the spin cycle, press the Air Turbo button. Take note that this button will only function if the spin cycle is still on, so be sure to press Air Turbo as the spin cycle is finishing up.

Set the time duration by pressing the Air Turbo button repeatedly. Duration times will depend on the amount of load you put in, with a minimum of 15 minutes.

LG Washer

After the wash cycle, make sure that the clothes you will be air drying are damp. The air dry function might reject your laundry load if it is still too wet.

Once the clothes are ready, insert a small load into the drum and hold down the spin button for about three seconds, then select air dry.

The default duration for an air dry cycle is 60 minutes. You may change this setting by pressing the spin button again.

Once you’ve set a time, press the start button to begin the air-drying process.

If you wish to end the cycle ahead of the set time, simply press the power button.


Once the normal washing cycle is finished, press the Wash & Dry button for 3 seconds or until it changes to Fan Fresh.

You can leave the Fan Fresh function on overnight to dry heavier laundry loads.


Once the spin cycle ends, press the air dry button to activate it then press it again to set a time duration.

Once done, press the Start/Pause button to begin air drying.

Note that Panasonic washers have limited their air drying load to only a small one.

GE Washer

Set your spin cycle to Wash & Dry by pressing the 1 Step Wash & Dry option. This will automatically start the air dry function once the washer detects that your spin cycle is through.

GE washers typically limit spinning and air drying to small laundry loads.

The air dry function defaults to a duration of 8 hours, but you may pause and resume this anytime.


Once the regular spin cycle is done, press Drying Cotton or Drying Mixed (depending on the type of fabric in your laundry), or you can also opt for the Manual Dry.

Note that Electrolux washers require only a half load if you wish to use the air dry functions with the spinning cycle.


After the spin cycle is finished, press the Temp button until it flashes the Air Dry setting.

Set your desired air dry settings. Be sure that they’re appropriate for the type of fabric you’re air drying. Then press Start to begin the cycle.

Once air drying starts, your washer will automatically adjust the drying time depending on the condition of the load in the drum.

Why You Should Air Dry Your Clothes

Why You Should Air Dry Your Clothes

Air drying is an effective way to protect thermoset fabric and other similar materials from being damaged. It can also reduce the risk of shrinking sizes, permanent staining, and fading colors.

Air drying has more advantages than you might realize. From protecting your clothes to building an eco-friendly laundry routine, this additional function in your washer might just be your new best friend!

1. It protects your clothes from shrinking.

Clothes inevitably shrink each time you wash them, but there are plenty of ways to keep them from shrinking too fast, too soon, such as pre-washing them (what is pre-wash).

Another way would be to air-dry them.

The more often your dry your clothes via a dryer, the faster the microfibers on the fabric of your clothes will wear down and get strained due to the generated heat. Air drying prevents this from happening by not using electric heating elements.

Moreover, some clothes will include special instructions in their packaging or tags to help you optimize your temperature settings for ideal air drying. Be sure to always read them; they’re there to help your clothes from shrinking.

2. It prevents permanent staining.

If your life seems to be never free from stains, you’d want to look into air drying your clothes to ease your stain removals.

High temperatures from dryers can easily set the stains on your clothes and lock them in. 

If you’ve missed a spot from pre-washing or washing, you’re much more guaranteed to be able to resume stain removal operations effectively if you air-dry your stained clothes.

3. It keeps dark-colored clothes vibrant.

Are you prone to wearing black or other dark colors? Well then, air drying can keep you looking fresh!

Fabric pigments deteriorate with high temperatures. Regularly drying dark clothes in the dryer can result in the rapid fading of saturated colors.

We recommend drying your dark-colored clothes in the dryer only once. Afterward, you should always air-dry or hang-dry them to preserve their quality.

For those loyal to white or light-colored clothes, here’s a fun little tip for you too: air drying can help whiten yellowed clothes!

4. It gets rid of pet hair.

Good news for pet lovers out there: air-drying can keep your clothes pet hair-free!

Pets make such adorable companions, we understand this. But we also understand how much of a hassle their shedding can be, especially if you like wearing dark clothes.

Fortunately, air drying keeps your dark clothes safe, not just from fading but from fur as well.

The air drying feature doesn’t use any heating, which can soften your clothes and loosen all pet hairs from them. Air circulation from the vents can also get rid of pet hair lint without trapping them in the lint filter.

5. It prevents mold growth.

Mold grows in damp and dark places, and the corners of your washing machine aren’t exempt from this. It’s not an uncommon scenario!

While regular drying uses heaters for drying, this doesn’t mean that it can reach farther corners of the drum. Moreover, some dryer settings require less heat and leave clothes a little damper than regular or air-drying.

Air drying eliminates this risk with the use of ventilation. Proper air circulation from air drying prevents the risk of humid air from being trapped and accumulating in the dark corners of your washing machine.

This protects both your appliance and your clothes from mold growth.

6. It’s eco-friendly and sustainable.

Dryers use electrical heating elements to generate heat and dry your clothes — which means they use extra electrical power, and contribute extra to your electrical bill.

Air-drying, meanwhile, may take longer than usual, but it uses less electrical power as it draws in fresh air from around the appliance instead. Ergo, it saves you some bills!

If you’re an environment-conscious fellow, then some more good news for you: that means air drying also reduces your carbon footprint!

Fabrics Suitable For Air-drying

Fabrics Suitable For Air-drying

Most fabrics are compatible to be air-dried, but this method works best with nylon, acrylic, polyester, microfiber, and other thermoset materials.

As we keep reminding our readers, before you test out the air-drying function, it’s important to read the labels on your clothes for confirmation.

Generally speaking, however, almost all kinds of fabrics are air-drying-friendly. It’s only a matter of thickness that makes a difference in drying times.

Essentially, air drying would work best on these kinds of fabrics:


Items that keep you warm during winter are usually made from acrylic — blankets, gloves, sweaters, and the like — because it’s a cheaper but just as effective alternative to wool.

But acrylics can wear down from exposure to high temperatures, so regularly machine drying these clothes will only damage them.

Your safest option? Air-drying, of course!


We all love polyester for its versatility; it’s airy, soft, and sturdy and can be crafted into any kind of clothes perfect for any climate!

The best part about it is that it’s wrinkle-free!

However, polyester is actually one of the most heat-sensitive fabrics you can own. It shrinks rapidly with excessive heat, so you better think twice before tumble drying it.


This type of fabric is known to be lightweight and elastic, which makes it perfect for underwear and hosiery, otherwise known as your delicates.

They’re called that because they don’t absorb water as well as other types of clothes, and you have to be extremely careful in drying them. They can even get damaged by coarse handwashing!

They’re usually air-dried or hang-dried because nylon can melt under high temperatures.


Air drying primarily caters to thermoset materials, which typically include microfibers. These are your sportswear, swimwear, and storm equipment.

These types of clothes are made from tightly-woven microfibers to make them durable against wind, rain, and water. 

You’d notice they’re water-resistant, too, which means no matter how waterlogged they become, fresh air is enough to dry them.

High heat levels can also melt these fibers down. Not to mention, since they’re primarily designed to trap dirt, they’re likely to accumulate lint from your previous wash if you attempt to dry them in your washer.


Similar to nylon, this type of fabric is known for its elasticity. They make up your tights, leggings, and exercise wear.

High heat levels can ruin their elasticity and bend them out of shape, hence air drying them is your ideal option.


We know what you’re thinking: that’s quite a mouthful! But we’re here to assure you that polypropylene is as professional as it sounds.

This type of fabric is used for high-functioning wear, such as sportswear and gym wear. If you’re a cyclist or a hiker by hobby, you’re likely more familiar with this material than most.

Similar to spandex or nylon, polypropylene isn’t heat-resistant. In fact, out of these fibers we mentioned, it has the lowest melting point, which makes it the most susceptible to damage by heat!

If you’ve got gym wear with you that’s made of polypropylene, it’s better to just air dry them in your washer to keep their quality.

Quick Tip:
While we consider air-drying as a universally friendly method, clothes with lace aren’t ideal for the machine air-dry method.
This has more to do with lace not being machine-compatible in general.
Tumbling or spinning lace in a drum can fray it, hence it’s recommendable to wash it by hand and let it hang dry.

Air Dry vs Spin Dry

Air Dry vs Spin Dry

Air drying has the advantage of efficiency and sustainability over spin drying, while spin drying takes less time and can dry larger loads of laundry.

The main differences between air drying and spin drying can be divided into four categories: operation, duration, dampness, and load limit.

Main DifferenceCauseSolution
Operation• Your clothes are dried using air circulation via the vents.
• Dried clothes might have fewer but prominent wrinkles in them.
• Your clothes are dried by extracting water from them via a centrifugal force.
• Dried clothes might have more but less prominent wrinkles in them.
DurationYour clothes will take a longer time to dry compared to normal drying.Your clothes will take a shorter time to dry compared to air drying.
DampnessYour clothes will be mostly — if not completely — dried.Your clothes are left to be damper than when air dried.
Load LimitYour laundry is limited to small loads to allow for better air circulation.The laundry limit follows regular washer limits to accommodate a larger quantity of clothes. 


As we’ve previously explained, air drying involves opening the washer’s vents to let fresh air in to dry the clothes inside the drum. All the while, your washer tumbles the laundry gently to let the air circulation flow better.

Your washing machine uses less electrical power to achieve this.

On the hand, spin-drying uses a centrifugal force to dry your clothes by extracting the water from them. This typically leaves the clothes a little damper than if you air-dried them.

Both of these functions use less energy than normal drying.

Furthermore, the difference in their methods of drying also contributes to wrinkle prevention.

Air drying will have less room for wrinkle formation. However, wrinkles that do come out of this drying process tend to be more prominent, obvious, and not to mention stubborn.

You’re going to need to do some extra wrinkle prevention just to smooth them out!

Wrinkles that are formed during a spin-drying cycle, meanwhile, are more in quantity but low in quality. They can be easily smoothed out, especially because spin-drying is usually precedent to another drying cycle such as tumble drying or hang drying.


Because spin-drying leaves clothes damp rather than completely drying them, it requires less time to achieve than air drying.

On the other hand, air drying may take an average of an hour or more than normal drying. Depending on the type and thickness of the fabric, drying times may even take up to 8 hours!


As we’ve already established, air drying is effective for completely drying your clothes and leaving not a single drop of water behind.

Meanwhile, the purpose of spin-drying is to only partly dry your clothes so you can put them into a tumble dry cycle or hang out them outdoors to dry some more.

In essence, it acts like a pre-drying function that ensures that your laundry isn’t waterlogged and soaking wet when it comes out of its washing cycle. 

This will then ensure that your laundry will dry faster, whether you opt for a tumble dry afterward or a hang dry.

Load Limit

Since air drying strictly requires proper air circulation to be effective, it won’t be able to accommodate larger loads of laundry. 

Smaller loads — generally ranging from 4.4 lbs to 6.6 lbs (2 kg to 3 kg), depending on the model — are ideal for airflow management as they leave more room for circulation.

On the other hand, since spin-drying doesn’t prioritize wide air circulation to dry the laundry, its load limit usually mirrors the load limit of a regular washing cycle — ergo, it can dry more laundry!

Tips on Air-drying

Tips on Air-drying

When air-drying, be careful not to overload the drum with clothes. Hang the clothes out after an air dry cycle to give them a fresh smell.

Also, do not machine air-dry laces.

Air-drying is user-friendly and easy to understand. It doesn’t have too many rules to follow to ensure its efficiency.

That said, there are a couple of don’ts that will help you optimize this feature. Don’t worry; they’ll be easy to remember!

1. Do not overload the drum.

To reiterate what we’ve previously mentioned, air drying loads are limited to a washer’s smallest capacity. This is so that the machine can generate proper airflow in the drum.

Overloading your machine with clothes during an air-dry cycle may give you a damp result instead of a dry one.

More importantly, more clothes in the drum means more moisture, which can mean longer drying times. Keep in mind that air-drying itself requires a long drying time.

Overloading this cycle might result in an overnight affair if you’re not careful.

2. Quickly hang your clothes in the open air after an air dry cycle.

You’re probably thinking: isn’t that counterproductive? I’ve already air-dried them inside!

But you’d want to give that thought a double-take. Sure, you’ve dried them inside, but drying them inside for too long can give them a musty smell.

It’s one of air-drying’s greatest disadvantages, besides the long drying time.

An extra hang-drying session under the sun for about fifteen minutes should be enough to ensure that your clothes will smell freshly laundered after drying them.

3. Do not machine air dry laces.

We’ve briefly given you a tip about how laces can be frayed in machine spinning, and we’re here to remind you of that again!

Frayed laces can also stick to the clothes you’ve just washed or clog in the lint trap, which in turn can contribute to blockage issues.

The air-drying feature in your washing machine can save you more bucks in more ways than you can imagine: it’s nifty, it’s environmentally safe, and it can spare you the need for a dryer!

It’s also fairly easy to use and is perfect for people with tight schedules who can’t afford to wait for a tumble dry or spin dry session.

Sure, it’s got longer dry times, but in terms of drying capability — it might just be the best choice!

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