Introduction: Vacuum Clothes Dryer

Picture of Vacuum Clothes Dryer

Make a very effective clothes dryer out of a five gallon paint/pickle bucket.

Step 1: Take a Five Gallon Paint/pickel Bucket and Cut a Hole in the Bottom

Picture of Take a Five Gallon Paint/pickel Bucket and Cut a Hole in the Bottom

Many of the bucket have an inner lip which is exactly the same size as a standard wet/dry vac hose. You can of coucuse use this as a ready made guide. I used paint striping gun to start the whole.

Step 2: Take a Mesh and Glue It to the Open End of the Bucket.

Picture of Take a Mesh and Glue It to the Open End of the Bucket.

I used a nylon screen material that I picked up in a fabric store.

Step 3: This Can Also Be Used to Dry Rugs and Carpet.

Step 4: Use

Make sure that you create a vacuum. This will suck the water off of the garment.


Howtoons (author)2005-10-02

would love to know more..

tomfolkes (author)Howtoons2005-10-11

What would you like to know? It is great for drying delicates. The key is to maintain a vacuum.

mmccarney (author)tomfolkes2005-10-26

hi, i am currently doin a project, tryin to vacuum pack wet sailing gear. i am tryin to get it as dry as possible before i vacuum pack it in a reusable plactis bag, that has a valve on it! cud you give me any advice or data u have so i can see if it is actually feasible for me to dry sailing gear like this. many thanks. hope to hear from you soon, michael

jsadler1 (author)mmccarney2014-10-26

If you want to dry boat sails the chamber could be a huge issue. That would require a large chamber and the larger the chamber the greater the forces acting upon it. The force equation tells us that the square inches multiplied by the air pressure yields the total pressure in the vessel. You would need a sturdy metal container and the consequences of the container implosion can be fatal injuries. But if you pump down to zero air and hold the vacuum there will be zero water in the container. Water simply can not exist in a vacuum and that is true for ice as well.

tomfolkes (author)mmccarney2006-03-17

Hi, I am sorry that I have not gotten back to you earlier. I have zero data. It is such a cheap product that it did not make much sense to do so. I would suggest that you create a hole in your vacume seal to permit using a wet/dry vac to finish off the job. -Tom

jsadler1 (author)2014-10-26

What may be an issue is a scratchy feeling to the dry clothing. If you hang a towel on a clothes line the wind tends to help get all the normal contaminants out of the wash. But if you have a clothes line strung up in a shower things like calcium carbonate in the water tend to stay with the fabric even though the water drips off as well as evaporates. Towels will not feel soft and will be scratchy. I suspect that vacuum drying would still require tumbling to be competitive.

paronomasiac (author)2010-01-07

It is my guess that the article of clothing is laid flat across the mesh opening and then the vacuum is turned on.  If there is no broken seal, this should draw air through the article of clothing. Then one would move the wet spots over the mesh as needed.  But I would think to dry carpet, one would need to have a means to lift the carpet so that the air that would be sucked would get under the carpet.

tomfolkes (author)paronomasiac2010-08-05

Actually this is not the case. It will draw water from the area surrounding the vacuum. I do understand your point of view. This was were I started.

FerrumFatum (author)2010-07-07

In vacuum, pressure is decreased, the boiling point of the liquid drops, and water can then evaporate. So placing clothes into a vacuum chamber and sucking all the air out is a possible way to dry clothes. At room temperature and in vacuum conditions, water starts boiling.

brs480 (author)2009-03-22

In order for this to work, you really need a substantial vacuum that won't be effected by water. A/C evac pumps and venturi based air solutions are more inline with what you'd need.

I actually use:

and whats nice about it, is it is indestructable. I'll put the entire unit in a bucket, put the vacuum port into the thing I want to suck from, and it deposits the oil/water/etc in the unit, where it drips into my bucket. It pulls a strong vacuum too. Dirt cheap if you have an air compressor.

Assuming you can keep your plastic from collapsing, place unit outside for a half an hour and let it get up to say 70-80 degrees, pull 29" of vac, and the water will boil off.

The key to this working is whether the bucket survives and you can pull 29".. A home vac will not do this.

fiducianullus (author)brs4802009-12-30


dsanco (author)2009-07-21

What I am looking for, and this might just fit the bill, is a way to apply vacuum to my tumble dryer. Open the dryer door, the screen will keep clothes in dryer, bucket should be big enough to trip the door closed sensor, and drying time for clothes should be cut in at least half, depending on vacuum.

glorybe (author)dsanco2009-09-17

I would use caution in that many electrical components count on air flow to avoid over heating and fire. A sharp engineer might be able to show us the energy consumed if a known pile of clothing is saturated with a measured quantity of water and a high vacuum is pulled, I suspect it would use more energy than tumbling in hot air. But nothing beats a common clothes line. A small vacuum container can work wonders for pulling water out of wrist watches and electronic items.

fiducianullus (author)glorybe2009-12-30

 For electronics a vacuum will work but is overkill. WD-40 displaces water. Just spray it.

dsanco (author)glorybe2009-09-18

Thank you Glorybe! I agree when applying vacuum to the dryer care must be taken to supply it to the chamber only and not to the entire cabinet. for one thing the cabinet might collapse, being thin sheet metal in a ballanced pressure environment. Here is a link to some comercial applications. I don't know if tumbling is involved at all comercially but I think in clothing it would be a bonus.

teslafan100 (author)2009-12-29

That would be nicer for a small camper or cabin. :)

JanicePrice (author)2009-11-09

The construction is simple enough, but how does it work?

Foaly7 (author)2009-09-09

How do you use this??????!!!!!!!!!!!!

deadsnakebiting (author)2009-07-02

I am truly at a loss of what this Instructable is and what it does. Having never seen this idea before, I cannot "picture" its use in my mind. How does it vacuum clothes and carpets, etc." I am sure the write knows but I just cannot connect a bucket with a screen on it to a clothes dryer! I need a little help on this one, please!

Spinergy (author)2006-02-15

no wet/dry vac really needed, just put the vacuum hose hole in the side of the bucket towards the top and the water will collect at the bottom of the bucket. This is basically how wet/dry vacs work. If you do use a standard vac, just remove the bag so you don't wind up with a soggy paper mess from the humidity. Newer "bagless" vacs would work great.

Derin (author)Spinergy2008-07-20

the bagless vacs would work well because the container+filter combo is WATER. ;)

WingDings (author)2006-04-25

This explanation is not very scientific in that it doesn't just "suck the water off of the garment", so I’ll try and expand it. The water will evaporate off the clothes into the air passing through the bucket in the same way as it would if you hung the clothes on a line. This happens because the air circulating around the clothes has a lower vapour pressure than the water on/in the clothes (assuming the air is not saturated with water, as when it is rains or the weather is just very humid) and so the water evaporates from the clothes to the air. This design improves things by forcing (albeit by sucking, not blowing) air over the clothes, and so more moisture can be carried away than if they were just sitting in still air. The air is also at a lower pressure inside the bucket, as the resistance to the inflow of the air provided by the "nylon screen material" will cause the pressure in the bucket to drop. If there was no material over the opening, the air in the bucket would be pretty much at normal (atmospheric) pressure and the vacuum would just be moving air through the bucket, rather than changing its pressure much. The reduced pressure in the bucket further reduces the air’s vapour pressure and so encourages more water to evaporate into the air than if the same amount of air was passed over the clothes at atmospheric pressure. So you should be able to evaporate more air off the clothes at this reduced pressure than you could at atmospheric pressure. This is a more complex system than it seems at first though and there is a relationship between the mass of air passing through the bucket and the pressure in the bucket. If you make the pressure drop higher over the material at the opening (in the extreme, say you replaced it with a perfectly sealed lid) the vacuum pump would reach a certain pressure and stay there, but no fresh air would be moving through the bucket to carry away the moisture and so the only way for moisture to leave would be by the heat entering the walls evaporating the water inside and this would be a very slow process. If the vacuum were not very low, much of the water would remain inside indefinitely. If you remove the pressure drop by removing the material, the pressure drop in the bucket will be minimal, but a higher volume of air will flow through. Other ways to dry the clothes (to answer mmccarney’s question may be to pack them with some pre-dried silica gel, in the bag you want to seal them in, the gel being inside a porous bag itself so that it can absorb excess moisture from the clothes whilst being kept separate from them, or to dry the clothes in a standard hot air clothes dryer, so long as they are not delicates as tomfolkes suggested that this device is good for. I think (if your clothes can take it) heating them up in a hot air dryer is likely to drive off more moisture from them than pulling a vacuum on them as with this device, but I don’t know too much about the vacuum pulled, etc. so I may be wrong.

drcrash (author)WingDings2007-06-02

A vacuum cleaner (or shop vac) doesn't pull much vacuum at all. Typically 4 to 6 inches of mercury out of a possible 29.9 (perfect vacuum), or 2 psi or so. (Lame vacuums, including lame shop vacuums, are not even that good.)

You're not going to get a lot of extra drying from that level of vacuum. To seriously vacuum-dry things, you need a vacuum pump. (Like maybe this one I made from a tire inflator: )

If there's much water, your vacuum pump will have to pump fair bit of volume, because water expands tremendously when it vaporizes. (So don't expect a little vacuum pump to dry big things very quickly. Thoroughly, yes; quickly, no.)

drcrash (author)drcrash2007-06-02

BTW, if your vacuum cleaner actually did create a significant vacuum on the inside of the bucket, the bucket would implode. A workable vacuum dryer requires a much sturdier vacuum chamber. In general, it's not effective to trade vacuum for airflow the way your design does. As the airflow into the chamber increases, the vacuum level drops a lot. So to get the breeze-drying effect, you're reducing the already minimal vacuum-drying effect. What you've actually got is something like a blow dryer without heat.

WingDings (author)2006-04-25

Ha ha that came out even worse! The characters were an a-hat, Euro and trademark symbol. Hmmm.

WingDings (author)2006-04-25

Sorry everywhere where there's a "’" above was what came out when an inverted comma (') was intended. Don't you love Word's Autocorrections...

bluelion (author)2006-04-06

you could cover the garment/bucket in a plastic bag .. and then turn on the vaccum cleaner...

vinisterz (author)2006-03-31

where do we put the clothes to dry though ? in the bucket or outside the mesh wire ?

tomfolkes (author)2006-03-17

Hi, It seems that I left something out. The trick is to create a vacum with the garment that you are trying to dry. -Tom

Brick-To-Face (author)2006-02-28

I think you are supposed to attach a vaccuum cleaner hose to the hole, when the air is sucked out it will create a low-pressure environment, (not quite a vacuum), and the water's boiling temperature will be substantially lower, the water will turn to steam/vapor and get sucked out of the bucket. When you hear an increasing strain on the vacuum, that means there is no gas left to remoe (no water either) you know you're done.

Scwounch (author)2006-02-05

I think he means you would place the garment on top of the bucket/mesh. That's the only way I can see getting a vacuum. And it does seem that a wetvac would be needed.

greenBuilder (author)2005-12-20

I think something was never mentioned, and I'm guessing this is how it works: you put the shopvac hose in the small hole and put your clothes on top of the screen. It would pull enough air through the fabric to dry it off pretty quickly, I would think.

sharath (author)2005-10-25

how to create a vacuum? I suspect the project is incomplete!

hensonkid (author)2005-10-03

Does this have to be a wetvac? Do you divert the water?

Chas (author)2005-09-30

Create a vacuum how?!

About This Instructable




Bio: I studied computer science at the University of Maryland. I have done computer projects for NASA, various defense and intelligence agencies, AOL, UUNET ect. I ... More »
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