DIY Apartment Clothes Dryer

Multipurpose your vacuum cleaner to help dry your clothes!

Approximate Time: 15 minutes


  • shower curtain rod
  • plastic garment bag (must have plastic zipper to avoid rusting)
  • vacuum cleaner with exhaust (shop vac recommended)
  • hose and attachment for vacuum
  • clothes hangers
  • jute twine (optional)
  • clothespins (optional)
  • scissors
  • tape


  1. Fit your garment bag onto the shower curtain rod, if it must be put on beforehand. Ours came with a velcro top, so we could put it on afterwards. You will want to set up your curtain rod over the bathtub, a little ways inside from the shower curtain that you may already have. (TIP: when you need to use the shower, just flip the garment bag over the outside shower curtain rod and it's out of the way!)

  2. Once you have the curtain rod up and secured with the garment bag on it, take your scissors and cut a hole in the bottom center of the bag. This is to let water drip out into the bathtub and down the drain as the clothes dry.

  3. Take your attachment to your vacuum cleaner. You're going to want to use one that you won't mind missing from your attachment stash. I used the smaller wand-shaped one. Cut a hole in the garment bag in the lower third part, just big enough for the back part of the attachment to fit through, where the vacuum hose will fit into. You will want to give this some thought first, as keeping a good seal (not cutting too many holes) is important. Think about air flow - you want the air to go at least in circular direction, and blowing up. Also, you don't want the attachment too close to the drainage hole in the bottom.

  4. Position your attachment into the hole from inside the bag out (TIP: I aimed the wand upside down so that air naturally goes up and sideways first). Tape the attachment into place with the hose connection side out of the bag.

  5. Preparing the vacuum: Now, a Shop Vac has an exhaust vent, where the hose will attach to. You might have to tinker with what you have available, just be careful with your machinery - you still want a vacuum cleaner too! Take out the vent inside the vac and make sure it's all clean. Make sure all loose articles are out of the bathroom and away from the intake part. Attach the hose to the exhaust, and then connect the hose to the attachment in the garment bag. Do NOT tape the hose to the garment bag, it should be able to disconnect.

  6. Prepare your drying tools. I use about 5 thick plastic hangers (again, no risk of rust--all plastic). You can tie jute twine to some of the hangers to make a loop, from which you can clothespin your socks and smaller things to.

  7. Load the garment bag, turn on the vacuum cleaner and go! You will find that experimentation with the air flow will give better results. For example, having the zipper part of the way down and the bathroom door open gives a better air flow. Also, remember to keep the bathroom fan on to keep the bathroom dry. You can experiment with how you hang the hose to alter the direction of the attachment in the bag. I recommend moving clothes around as you dry, and keep the towels by themselves, as they tend to keep things wet if you put them in there at the same time.

This invention was made from necessity and God's wisdom. The dryer gets hand-washed and wrung out clothes mostly dry in about two hours, then we hang them over our homemade drying rack (re-purposed camping chair) to finish. This invention also allows you to still use your vacuum as a vacuum cleaner.

Warning: Always be careful when working around electrical machines and water. Always use safety measures with children and pets. Do not leave the vacuum on out of earshot (so you can hear if it gets blocked)

By Bonnie from Spokane, WA

DIY Apartment Clothes Dryer

DIY Apartment Clothes Dryer

DIY Apartment Clothes Dryer

April 18, 20110 found this helpful


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Anonymous Flag
April 18, 20110 found this helpful

I truly very much applaud your cleverness and effort but most people don't have a shop vac and I could be wrong but I don't think regular vacuums have the exhaust function. Even if they do not only the filter needs to be completely clean of dust debris but also the interior of the canister needs to be thoroughly clean if you're going to use the exhaust feature because otherwise the fine dust particles in the canister will still be blown through the filter and on to the clean clothes. This I know first hand from having used the exhaust function one time on a shop vac I had and dust residue in the canister blew out all over my living room ;-) LOL!

Besides that thought, I personally would rather hang the clothes on a wood laundry rack in the tub and/or on hangers hung on the shower curtain and air dry rather than all the preparation effort and use of the electricity ;-)

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April 19, 20110 found this helpful

Very clever! Would those vacuum storage bags work? They have a dedicated hose inlet screw, but you'd have to cut open the bag and it would no longer be useful for its original purpose. I can see the problem with dust, but surely it would use the same amount of electricity as a dryer?

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April 19, 20110 found this helpful

I am lucky enough to have a clothes line in my backyard. When the weather is too cold I use a wooden clothes rack we bought in maine while on vacation a few years ago. Also I have hung damp clothing on hangers and put it over door jambs. Since these were bedrooms there was no problem going in and out during the day. How much electricity do you use with your system?

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Anonymous Flag
April 19, 20110 found this helpful

MCW: Thank you---we are very happy with it!

Nufty: Thank you--we need some extra oomph up here in the cold north! I'm not sure about the vacuum storage bags--the key is to get good air flow inside the bag. Maybe you could try it (as long as the zippers are plastic). Our vacuum cleaner is easy to clean, and you can simply remove the dusty filter, so there's no problem with dust. As far as electricity goes, we don't use a washing machine, and the vacuum cleaner is run about 2 hours per load. I don't think the cleaner uses as much electricity as a regular clothes dryer. Our shop vac is an 8 gallon, 3-5 horsepower, and we just leave it on with the bathroom fan going.

ELSABLUE: I rejoice with you in your blessing of having a backyard AND a clothesline! We don't have a yard where we live (apartment) to hang out clothes on the days it is sunny. Where we are, the climate is very cold and winter is very long, so wet things Have to have something extra to dry or the clothes will stay wet and sour. Our apartment heaters don't do it--they are electric baseboard heaters, and expensive to run for very long. Nice blessing to be able to simply hang up clothes inside and they would dry! I don't know how to calculate the exact wattage, but our 8 gallon 3-5 horsepower shop vac runs for about 2 hours per hand washed load plus the bathroom fan. I can finally wash my sweaters without them souring, and I am sooo happy about that!

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October 23, 20150 found this helpful

Very clever. They took away our apt. clthoesline! Ugh.

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