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What Is Air Dry in Washing Machine?

Air Dry Washing Machine

If you’ve ever taken a moment to check, you’ll notice that your washing machine has an ‘air dry’ function.

But what exactly does that do? Because many of us use our dryers to finish our laundry after a cycle, we probably never take the time to explore what the air dry feature is even for.

However, you’ll be surprised to know that this nifty feature can work wonders to protect certain types of fabric.

  • The air dry function reduces moisture on clothes without the use of heat.
  • It uses air from around the washer through vents in the lid.
  • The air dry feature also works by gently tumbling items to eliminate excess moisture.
  • Manufacturers include the function for clothes that might be damaged by heat.

The air dry function exists on most standard washing machines. Here’s what they’re for and how you can maximize the feature.

How Does Air Dry Work in a Washing Machine?

Clothes Dryer

The air dry function draws air into the washing machine chamber through a series of vents throughout the tub and lid. The washing machine spins as it would during a wash while it circulates this air.

Unlike a dryer, the air dry function on a washing machine doesn’t use heat. This makes it an ideal drying method for delicate clothes that could be damaged by dryer heat.

The only downside is that the air dry function takes significantly more time than a standard dryer. Although the average air dry cycle takes about 2 hours, some machines can keep the process going overnight.

It’s also important to mention that the air dry function might not completely dry your clothes. While some machines might get rid of 90 to 98% of moisture using air dry, others can only reduce moisture by 30 to 40%.

How Long Does an Air Dry Cycle Last?

Air Dry Cycle

The speed of the air dry process depends on several factors. These include the following:

  • The quality of the fabric. Because of their thick weave, materials like denim and wool naturally take longer to dry. Using air dry on these fabrics may require overnight drying. It’s also important to mention that these heavy fabrics might not completely dry at the end of the air dry cycle.
  • The amount of moisture in the clothes. Some fabrics soak up more water than others. If you’re starting an air dry cycle after a wash, make sure to spin dry your clothes one or two times to get rid of as much excess water and to make the air dry function more effective.
  • The amount of clothing in the load. Sticking more clothes into the washing machine at one time will significantly reduce the efficiency of the air dry function. Remember that air dry doesn’t use heat and works simultaneously by circulating air and tumbling clothes. With too many items in the load, air might not properly circulate through the clothes.

Again, the air dry function will usually take 2 hours to complete. Depending on the fabric, the number of clothes you put in the load, and the amount of moisture in the clothes, your items may be up to 98% dry at the end of the cycle.

When To Use the Air Dry Function

Air Dry Function

Air dry works best for materials that are sensitive to heat. These may include:

  • Spandex
  • Lycra
  • Polypropylene
  • Microfiber
  • Polyester
  • Acrylic

In the same way, air dry might not be an ideal choice if you’re trying to dry denim, wool, or even lace which can fray and tangle in the prolonged process of an air dry cycle.


The air dry function works wonders to eliminate moisture from your laundry without needing heat.

So if you’ve got some heat-sensitive items in your laundry load or your dryer is presently out of order, you can use your air dry function to get your clothes nice and dry.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Air Dry Better Than Spin Dry?

The air dry function can reduce moisture by up to 98%, while a spin dry might only work to remove up to 60% of moisture.

Air dry also uses a more gentle cycle than the dry spin feature, which may damage clothes and the washing machine.

It’s recommended, however, that you spin dry a laundry load before starting to air dry to remove as much excess water as possible.

Is Air Dry the Same in a Washing Machine and Dryer?

Some dryer models will have an ‘air dry’ or ‘air fluff’ function, which works the same way as the function you’ll find in a washing machine.

Whenever you choose to air dry — whether on a dryer or a washing machine — you can expect that it will not use heat.

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