It seems like such a simple thing: throw your clothes in the dryer, set it, and forget it, then come back to warm and toasty laundry ready to fold (or throw in the hamper… You know who you are). A lot of the time, you would be just fine doing just that, but not if you want to get the best out of your laundry and help your clothes and other items last longer.
I used to be a hot-to-trot dryer setter. That is until I discovered that the bands on all my nice towels were shrinking and in the process, making them difficult to fold properly. Throwing your clothes in a dryer that is too hot could be doing irreparable damage, even though it may be saving you time having to check on it.
The “High” setting on the average dryer can be as much as 145 degrees. It will make the outside of your laundry feel nice and toasty and make the inside of the dryer hot to the touch. If you leave your laundry in for too long, you could be ruining the fibers, causing the items to fall apart before they should. You should always (always) follow the manufacturer’s suggestions for how to dry your items. I have a thousand stories, from personal experience and objective observation, that I could tell about how a favorite blanket or important blouse were ruined due to dryer temp negligence.
If you believe that you have left your laundry in for a reasonable time and your items feel hot to the touch when you take them out, you may find out too late, that only the outside is hot, but the insides (the stuffing of comforters, pillows, waistbands, socks) are still very damp. Drying your clothes too hot could be very similar to cooking food items in a pan that is too hot; it only looks like the food is cooking faster, but you will often find that the insides are just as raw as if you hadn’t cooked at all. Adding insult to injury, you may even burn and ruin the item, but now you can no longer enjoy it, despite your haste.
Some tips that I have learned from personal experience:
- Before throwing any items in the dryer, make sure that your washer spin cycle did its job. Your clothes should not still be dripping with water when you remove them from the wash. If your clothes still feel a little soggy, if possible, run an extra spin cycle to try to squeeze out that excess water. If not possible you should wring out the excess water by hand for best drying outcomes.
- Bigger may be better, but it’s still best to use one regular laundry basket load per regular-sized dryer. Save the big dryers for things like towels, blankets, and comforters.
- Use a medium temperature, instead, and use two or three tennis balls or wool dryer balls to encourage better drying. The tennis balls will help your clothes stay separated more while they tumble around, enabling your clothes to get dryer faster and more evenly.
- If you don’t have access to tennis balls, two or three dry, bath-sized towels will also do the trick.
- Half-and-Half: Start your items on “High” for the first half of your anticipated drying time (usually about 45 minutes) and then set the dryer to “Medium” for the last half to the cycle.
- Match Don’t Mix: Put items of similar fabric weights in their own dryers, if possible. Items with similar manufacturer’s instructions should also be treated, accordingly.
- Stagger Your Dryers: Start drying the heaviest items first and give yourself some lag time before starting the next dryer. As you are folding the items in the first dryer, anything that isn’t dry enough can be thrown into a currently running dryer, and so forth.
- The final minutes: Check on the dryer about 15 minutes before the cycle is complete. If most of the items still feel like they could use more time, increase the time by no more than 15 minutes. If your items are still not getting dry, try pulling out the problem items and move them to a separate dryer.
One more thing: Some dryers have a low or air-dry setting which is good for items that require hang or air-drying. This setting is ideal for lingerie and other delicates.