Clothes dryers are built with our convenience in mind. What could take days to air dry can be dried in less than an hour and ready to wear straight from the drum. What’s more, these appliances can help soften the load, and reduce wrinkles too. Clothes dryers are pretty versatile, handling anything from bulky bed sheets to everyday wear and towels. But, did you know that there are certain items which even the best clothes dryers can’t dry?
That’s right, your clothes dryer can’t be the answer to everything. If you attempt to dry something you shouldn’t, you could cause no end of damage to the item, and even to the appliance itself, warranting expensive repairs. If you’re keen to learn what not to dry in here, we’ve pulled together 10 things you should never put in the dryer. Avoid these and you can help your clothes dryer last longer — and perform better.
If you're on the market for a new clothes dryer, check out 9 things to look for when buying a clothes dryer.
10 Things you should never put in the dryer
1. Swimsuits — You should wash your swimwear after every use to remove all traces of chlorine and sunscreen. But, don’t be tempted to throw it in the dryer once clean. Swimwear is a big no-no for the dryer because the heat will damage the spandex, leaving it looking limp and saggy rather than fitted. It’s best to air-dry these items.
2. Bras — For the same reason, bras shouldn’t go in the dryer either. These too contain elastic which can be damaged by the heat of the cycle. Ultimately, the fit and shape would be ruined as a result. See our guide on how to wash bras for more info. To dry your bras the right way, air-dry them flat with the cups facing upwards.
3. Pantyhose — Pantyhose, aka tights, are one of the most delicate items of clothing you can find. Even putting them on with too much vigor can result in a tear. So, it makes sense that a clothes dryer is too aggressive for the material. As well as leading to runs, pantyhose will shrink in the heat of a dryer, plus they can tangle up with everything, causing a lot of frustration. Air-dry them instead — they’re so thin it will take minutes.
4. Wool — Wool is probably the most well-known mistake out there. We’ve all witnessed at least one mishap where a beautiful cashmere jumper has emerged from a dryer looking as if it would fit a teddy bear. Wool shrinks in the high heat of a dryer and it's very difficult to get it to return to its initial shape once it does. For this reason, don’t put anything made of wool in the dryer, air-dry it flat instead.
5. Rubber-backed bath mats — While some bath mats will be able to go in the clothes dryer, anything with a rubber-back shouldn’t. That’s because the high heat can melt and crumble the rubber and potentially lead to a fire. The same goes for any rubber-backed rugs as well. Always air-dry to keep the rubber-backing intact.
6. Anything with sequins or beads — If you’ve got an embellished item, it’s naturally going to be tricky to launder. The high heat of a clothes dryer can melt any glue holding the embellishments in place, while the tumbling action can easily snag and damage the detail on this item as well as others. Keep sequins and beads out of the dryer to be safe and hang dry on a clothes rack dryer instead.
For full guidance on the differences between these drying methods, check out clothes dryer vs clothes rack dryer.
7. Leather or faux leather — We shouldn’t really have to say it, but leather, whether real or faux, doesn’t belong in a tumble dryer. The heat will dry out and crack natural leather, while faux leather will shrink and warp. Hang dry these items instead, out of direct sunlight.
8. Slippers — Slippers often have rubber on the underside for added grip. Just like the rubber-backed bath mats, this can melt and break away in the heat of a clothes dryer, not only ruining your slippers, but making them potentially slippery and dangerous to walk in. Rubber in the dryer can also lead to fires, so avoid this mistake at all costs.
9. Shoes — Some shoes can go in the clothes dryer, while others can’t. Running shoes will generally be damaged by the heat — it can weaken the glue which holds the shoe together and wreck the cushioning. UGG boots also shouldn't go in the dryer — the sheepskin coating will shrink in the heat. Whereas tennis shoes (as long as they’re not professional grade) can go in the dryer with a couple of towels on the low heat setting. Refer to the care label if you're unsure, and always err on the side of caution.
10. Anything that warns against it in the care label — If the care label says don’t dry in the clothes dryer, then don’t do it. The item will likely suffer damage in the appliance and could potentially be a fire hazard too, so don’t ignore it. See our guide on what do laundry symbols mean for more guidance.
For more washing tips, tricks, and how-tos, check out our guides on the best washing machines, when you should and shouldn't use the quick wash setting, why you really shouldn't use your washing machine as a hamper and 15 things you should never put in a washing machine.
You can also check out the 14 foods that you should never put in the freezer and the 11 foods that you should never put in the fridge.