How To Do Laundry (Part 5/7): How To Dry Clothes

Learning how to dry clothes is the next step in the how to do laundry series.

how to dry clothes
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There are lots of possible way to dry clothes, based on the type of fabric, type of equipment you have in your home, and based on environmental and budget consciousness.

Drying clothes can be done in a dryer, flat on a dryer rack, on hangers to drip dry, or you can line dry clothes.

This article discusses how to dry clothes in a dryer.

What Clothes Can Be Dried In The Dryer?

Generally, if you can wash the laundry in the washing machine on either the permanent press or regular cycle, it is possible to dry the laundry in the dryer.

However, if you have washed articles by hand, or on the delicate cycle of your washing machine you may need to hang them on an inside or outside line, air dry on hangers, or a dryer rack.

If you don't know whether an article of clothing or other fabric can be put into the dryer, look at the laundry care symbol on the label or tag for instructions.

Before Putting Clothes In The Dryer Briefly Look At Each Article of Clothing To Check For Stains

Another important step in how to dry clothes is that when you take clothes out of the washing machine take time to look at each piece of clothing or fabric as it comes out of the wash.

If you missed a stain before you washed something, or the pretreating and laundering method used did not get the stain out, this may be your last chance to try again.

It is less likely that washing an item will set the stain (although, not impossible, for example, if you wash something stained with blood in hot water), but once it goes through the dryer most of these stains become permanent.

Shake Each Piece of Clothing Out Before Placing It In The Dryer

In addition, at the same time that you quickly inspect each article of clothing, take the time to shake each item out before you place it in the dryer.

Do not place clothing, or especially bulkier items such as sheets and towels in the dryer all wadded and twisted. Doing so is a sure fire way to have damp clothes stuck in a ball in the middle of the fitted pocket of the sheet, for example.

Wadding and twisting also increase wrinkling, and may also permanently stretch the fabric into an unnatural shape.

Taking the time to shake everything out reduces drying time and wrinkling.

Clean Your Lint Filter Every Time

It is also very important when remembering all the steps of how to dry clothes that you clean the lint filter on your dryer every time you do a load.

Dryer safety is very important. The United States Consumer Product Safety Commission has recommended cleaning the lint filter as an important way to prevent dryer fires.

Cleaning the lint filter can also significantly reduce your drying time.

Do Not Overfill Your Dryer

Another important step in how to dry clothes is not to overfill the dryer, or it will take longer for everything to dry.

In most older washing machine/dryer sets as long as you don't overfill the washer you can feel pretty comfortable that you are not going to overfill the dryer with that same load.

However, with some large capacity washing machines now being made, especially front-loaders, it is possible to have too many clothes from the washing load to dry at once.

If this is the case, do not leave the extra clothes in the washing machine while you are waiting for the first half of the load to dry in the dryer.

With all washing machines, but especially front loaders, because of their incredibly tight seals, you run the risk of mildew growing if you leave clothes in for too long.

What Temperature and Setting To Use To Dry Your Clothes

A general rule of thumb is that if clothes were able to be washed in hot water, they can be dried on the hottest setting in the dryer, generally termed "regular," on the setting "heavy-high."

If you needed to wash the clothes on the permanent press cycle in the washer, and/or use cooler water, those clothes will most likely need to be dried on a lower setting, generally labeled "medium," and the setting, "permanent press."

Of course, general rules of thumbs always have exceptions, so always look at the fabric label if in doubt.

Getting Your Clothes Overly Dry Versus Still Too Damp

It is best not to over dry your clothes, as this can lead to shrinkage and additional wear and tear on the fabric.

On the other hand, if something is slightly damp when you take it out of the dryer you need to be careful not to just fold it up and put it away, as it could cause mildew if there is not enough air circulating to let it finish drying all the way once it is in a tight fitting drawer or closet.

How To Avoid Wrinkled Clothes And Quick Fixes If Wrinkling Happens Anyway

The most important lesson in how to dry clothes is to take clothes out of the dryer promptly, so your clothes don't get wrinkled.

It saves you time to do it right away.

But, life happens sometimes.

If your forget and everything gets wrinkly, which happens to me more frequently than I would like, you have the following options:

  • Rewash the load (not recommended)
  • Spray wrinkle reducer on the clothes (not recommended)
  • Iron everything from the load (not recommended)
  • Run the dryer for an additional 10-15 minutes which will get the clothes warm again and many times will get rid of all or most of the wrinkles (recommended)
  • Run the dryer for an additional 15-20 minutes with a slightly wet, (not just damp, but not dripping wet either) hand towel or wash cloth added to let moisture, as well as heat, help get out the wrinkles (recommended even more)

The reason I recommend the last two options and not the first three is because the last two options get the best results for the least amount of effort.

Now that you know how to dry clothes, see the next part of the series, How To Do Laundry: Fold Laundry.

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Related Links At Household Management 101

How to Do Laundry - Introduction

How To Do Laundry - Video Guide

Laundry Tips For Families

How To Clean Things

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