Plus all of the everyday items you should never put in the dryer.

Though the sheer volume of clothes that come out of our dryers on a daily basis may be daunting, using a dryer is not. Well, at least we thought. It may seem basic, but it turns out there are a few things we may all be doing wrong–even if you’ve been doing laundry for decades.  

If, like us, you’re tired of wrinkled loads or just don’t have the time to air-dry, take a moment to learn how to use your clothes dryer correctly.

The Basics: How to Use A Clothes Dryer

  1. Read the manual before getting started. As with any home appliance, settings can vary slightly by make and model. For dryers, it’s critical to learn the heat levels and timing options unique to your machine.
  2. Check the lint filter before starting a load. It’s important to clean between each use to reduce your fire risk, keep your energy bill down, and help your dryer last longer.
  3. Shake out each piece before placing it in the dryer. This is the first line of defense for a wrinkle-free load.
  4. Don’t overload the dryer. If your clothes can’t tumble, you’ll end up with a longer dry-time and higher chance of wrinkles.
  5. Consider drying different fabric types in different loads. If you’ve washed different types of fabrics together, they may need to dry separately. Undergarments and hand towels, for example, may need different dryer settings.
  6. Add a dryer sheet. Drop in a sheet to add softness and remove static cling. They can also add a nice, fresh scent to your clothes.
  7. Select a proper dryer cycle and start the dryer. While this will depend on your specific dryer’s settings (remember that manual we told you to read?), keep in mind that not everything needs high heat. It can lead to dull colors, shrinkage, and general damage. Consider a regular cycle if cotton makes up most of your load. If you have mostly synthetic or permanent-press fabrics to dry, a permanent-press cycle may be your best bet.
  8. Shake out each piece as you remove it from the dryer. The second shake is another chance to avoid the ironing board. For a pro tip, consider taking your clothes out of the dryer when they’re mostly dry but still slightly damp and hanging them to finish drying.
  9. Avoid leaving your freshly dried clothes in a pile. If you’ve gone through the trouble of drying your clothes properly to avoid wrinkles and damage, the last thing you want to do is leave them in a pile while they’re still warm. Hang or fold promptly to avoid wrinkles that can set in while fabrics are warm.

Things You Shouldn’t Put in the Dryer

Regardless of the fabric or piece, always check the tag for exact instructions on how to wash and dry.

  1. Tights and stockings. Avoid snags and shrinkage, not to mention a tangled mess, by air-drying.
  2. Wool. Blankets and sweaters made from wool will shrink and lose shape if subjected to excessive heat. Check your garment tag for proper cleaning and drying instructions.
  3. Velvet. Head to the dry cleaner with your velvet pieces.
  4. Silk and Lace. Don’t set yourself up for a snag or tear. High heat can also set in wrinkles on delicate fabrics that are extremely difficult to remove.   
  5. Leather and suede. You’ll want to check your garment tag on these pieces as well to avoid cracks in your clothing from drying at home.  
  6. Bras. There’s little that’s more useless than a shapeless bra. Subjecting these undergarments to high heat can cause the fabric to lose form.
  7. Purses, bags, and backpacks. Unless the bag is completely made from cotton, avoid tossing it in the dryer. High heat can warp or melt your bag.
  8. Running shoes. You’ve probably paid a pretty penny for running shoes with the right support and cushioning. Throwing them in the dryer can destroy this cushioning while weakening adhesives and shrinking rubber soles.   
  9. Bathing suits. Keep all of the mesh and padding intact by avoiding a heated tumble. Let these pieces air dry.
  10. Throw pillows. This is especially true if your pillows have delicate embellishments. Try hanging these to dry instead.
  11. Mats with rubber on the back. Rubber backing on bathmats may keep you from slipping on a wet floor, but it can’t stand up to the heat of your dryer.  
  12. Anything embellished. Not only will you destroy sequins or sewn-on details, but embellishments can cause tears in other fabrics they’re tumbling with in the dryer.
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