line drying clothes blowing in wind

16 Things Should Absolutely Never See The Inside of a Clothes Dryer

While modern dryers have become household staples, they come with their own set of pitfalls. Here’s a list of 16 items that should never find their way into your trusty dryer.

line drying clothes blowing in wind

Clothes neatly spaced on a clothesline held in place with wooden clothespins with those sheets, and clothes flapping in the breeze and drying in the sunshine is a sight we seldom see, but a visual that brings me back to my childhood. And oh, that amazing smell of line-dried clean sheets. Know what I mean? Modern-day clothes dryers have all but replaced traditional outdoor clotheslines in most urban areas.

Clothes dryers, those trusty household companions that help us some readers adhere to neighborhood rules banning outdoor clotheslines, sure do make life easier. But just like hanging clothes outside has its drawbacks (hello, unpredictable weather and all that effort), relying on a clothes dryer comes with its own set of issues. A clothes dryer can ruin stuff.

While the effect may not be noticeable on the first time or two through the dryer, the destruction will build until that item comes to a tragic end, long before its time.

The solution is quite simple. Learn what can and cannot safely be put into your clothes dryer. Then make sure you keep a good indoor drying rack in a convenient place to ensure easy use—more on that in a bit.

1. Tennis Shoes, Sneakers

do not put in dryer sneakers athletic shoes

Whether made of canvas, leather, or other fabric, your tennis shoes will likely do very well in the washing machine. But the dryer? Not at all.

Sure, they’ll tumble loudly and perhaps come out OK on the first trip, but what you won’t easily detect is that the glue that holds them together has been compromised. It melts in the dryer’s high heat, then resets but in a much different way than when the shoes were new.

And that canvas or other fabric? Plan on it shrinking and twisting out of shape. Put those two things together—glue melt and fabric shrink—and you get distortion and sole separation.

Now that you know what causes an early demise of sneakers and tennis shoes, know to air-dry your sneakers (typically, it takes about 24 hours), you can stop blaming the manufacturer.

2. Bras, Lingerie

 do not put into dryer bras lingerie

All bras have some spandex and elastic, which are synthetic products made to stretch and provide shape and comfort. Other lingerie items with the same type of fabric content as well. Heat is the enemy of stretchy things.

If you want your bras and other lingerie items to enjoy a long lifespan, maintaining their original shape and loveliness right to the very end, never put them through the clothes dryer.

Instead, wash bras and lingerie using good mesh zippered lingerie bags, then air dry.

This routine will make all the difference and give you the kind of results and longevity you paid for.

3. Reusable Fabric Bags

do not put into dryer reusable bags canvas totes

Backpacks, lunch bags, fabric tote bags, and reusable grocery bags need to be cleaned frequently—especially if used to carry them for food items that are likely to leak onto the fabric.

More than likely, your washable bags will do nicely in the washing machine, provided you make sure your cycle settings for water temperature and so forth are compatible with the bags’ type of fabric. However, putting fabric bags through the clothes dryer is just asking for trouble. Plan on them shrinking at the least and falling apart at the most.

A much better idea is to allow bags, packs, and totes to air dry. To avoid wrinkles and for the best results, lay bags out on a flat surface so you can reshape them. As for backpacks, stuff them with wadded-up newspaper or clean, dry bath towels to return them to their original shape as they air dry.

4. Rubber-Backed Mats, Rugs

do not put into dryer rubber backed mats or rugs

Have you ever wondered by the rubber backing of your bath mats, placemats, or other scatter rugs gets all stiff and crumbly and eventually peels away, leaving quite a mess?

More than likely, you’ve been putting those washable mats through both the washer and dryer.

The washer is fine, but it’s the heat of a clothes dryer that melts and soon ruins the rubber and other types of non-slip coatings.

This may not be noticeable on the first trip or two through the dryer. But when you continue drying them in the machine, the backing will fail. The crumbling rubber can create a fire hazard.

Instead, allow rubber-backed mats of all kinds to air dry.

5. Swimwear

do not put into dryer swimwear swimsuit

Swimming suits, trunks, and other swimwear should be washed after every use to remove chlorine and salt, depending on where they’ve been swimming. And it’s only natural to throw these items into the clothes dryer as well. But no.

Really, the heat of the dryer will soon destroy the Spandex and other synthetic properties of great swimwear.

Your family’s swimwear will last seasons longer if you get into the habit of skipping the dryer and allowing these pieces to (you know what’s coming)—air dry!

6. Leather, Real or Faux

do not put into dryer black leather skirt

Even when the care tag on that beautiful leather jacket, those awesome gloves, or faux leather throw pillow clearly states “Washable,” don’t skip the part about drying! Don’t assume you can toss leather anything, real or faux, in the dryer.

The heat of a clothes dryer can cause these leather products, both fake and real, to crack and distort. That means one sleeve could get all wrinkled (permanently) while the other is stretched out of shape. It’s not worth finding out how your item will react.

Instead, hang leather jackets, pants, gloves, hats,  and other items in a dry area away from direct heat or sunlight.

7. Silk, Lace, Delicate Fabrics

do not put into dryer lace delicates silk

While silk fabric and garments are hand-washable, silk should never go in a clothes dryer.

Silk is very delicate, and the high temperatures of the tumble dryer can shrink or damage silk. The chances are great that it will come out permanently wrinkled.

And lace? Whether a large piece or simply an embellishment, lace can get easily torn because it is so delicate.

8. Activewear

do not put into dryer activewear

Workout wear typically contains a high percentage of Spandex and elastic. When these types of garments meet up with clothes dryer heat, those fabrics and fibers are weakened.

These garments often include liners designed to wick away sweat and perspiration. Don’t take a chance by putting your workout clothes into the clothes dryer, which is sure to ruin those synthetics and destroy the wicking qualities.

9. Sweaters

do not put into dryer sweaters

Whether a sweater is hand- or machine-knit, it is delicate—especially if made from wool or another natural product. And if made from synthetic or man-made fiber, the fact that it is knitted rather than woven makes it sensitive to a clothes dryer’s heat and tumbling action.

Tossing it into the dryer to be heated up and tumbled simultaneously increases the likelihood that it will come out of the dryer completely out of shape. And if that’s not bad enough, expect to see “pilling” on the sweater’s surface, which makes it look old, tired, and worn out.

10. Fur, Natural or Faux

do not put into dryer fur faux or real

I doubt that you’d toss your grandmother’s mink stole into the washer or dryer, but how about that fur trim on your favorite t-shirt hoody? Of the cuffs on your cool winter gloves?

Stop and think before you do that. While it’s true that real fur comes from animals who do survive wet conditions quite nicely, but the way that fur—whether it’s real or faux—has been attached to this garment presents trouble just waiting to happen in a hot clothes dryer. Whether it can be laundered at all is open to question, so follow the care label. Then air-dry.

11. Tights, Hosiery

do not put into dryer tights hosiery

You may assume that you can put tights, pantyhose, and other delicate hosiery into the clothes dryer, provided you place them in a mesh laundry bag first. But don’t believe it.

These items are very delicate, made from synthetic fibers. Heat is the problem, and not just very high heat. Once dried in this way, you will shorten that item’s useful life.

Another problem: Chances are also good that your delicate hosiery will get snagged by catching on a button, zipper, or another similar hazard in the dryer. Don’t take a chance. Always air-dry hosiery.

12. Sequins, Beads

do not put into dryer sequins beads

It never dawned on me that one of my favorite knit tops (not the one pictured) should not go through the washer and dryer—that I should be hand washing it. This top is beaded, which may sound super cheesy, but it’s not.

It’s not sparkly, and the beads are not particularly noticeable that they are beads! The subtle design has been accomplished by gluing on hundreds of tiny beads.

Washing and drying this knit top wasn’t a problem in the beginning. But then, as if overnight, more than half of the design just disappeared and not in a good way.

I can only imagine that those tiny glued-on beads went down the drain or into the lint trap.

Lesson learned: Never expose an item with sequins or beads to the heat of a clothes dryer. Instead, wash by hand, then allow to air dry.

13. Slippers, Slip-Proof Socks

do not put into dryer slippers

Fabric slippers appear to be washable, and most are. For sure, slippers should not be dried in a clothes dryer. You must assume that glue has been used to attach the soles and trim. And quite possibly to close seams.

The heat of a clothes dryer is likely to melt the glue, causing the soles on slippers and the non-slip coating on socks to separate. You may not notice this until you’re flat on your face having run down the stairs or moved a bit too quickly into the kitchen.

14. Wool

do not put into dryer wool blankets

Wool requires special care when it comes to cleaning. Assume that it will shrink if exposed to hot water or heat.

Always wash in cool water and allow to air dry. Follow that rule, and you won’t have to deal with shrunken socks, sweaters, throws, and blankets.

Clothes dryers don’t have an adequate wool cycle, a pretty good indicator that they’re not equipped to handle wool. Wool sweaters, scarves, blankets, and throws should be laid flat to dry to prevent them from stretching or misshapen.

NOTE: If your socks are made of treated “superwash wool” yarns, they represent an exception to the foregoing. Generally, you can machine wash items made from superwash wool yarn with warm water and regular laundry detergent. And they can be tumble-dried on low heat. Just don’t make the mistake of using a hot water wash cycle or high heat in the dryer, which can damage the protective resin coating on the yarn, which makes it “superwash.”

15. Oil, Grease Saturated Rags

do not put into dryer oil grease rags

Do not put oily rags or towels in a dryer—even if washed to be reused. When discarding oily rags, hang them outside to dry them before putting them in a trash bin or garbage receptacle.

Hotels and restaurants have reported incidents where rags or towels used to clean up oily spills (such as oil from deep fryers) were washed and then thrown in the dryer only to burst into flames due to “spontaneous combustion.” Clearly, the washing process did not remove all of that oil. These are considered flammable stains.

What I’m describing is not even close to the rags and towels we use in our kitchens. I’m talking about heavy-duty garage and mechanic use rags, saturated with grease, oil, and or solvents.

When oily rags are bunched up and piled on top of each other or placed in a dryer, heat can build to a point where it ignites an already flammable material. No matches, torches, or open flames required.

Bottom line: Never put oily rags in a clothes dryer. Spread them out to air dry before tossing them in the trash can or washing them to re-use. Even then, out of an abundance of caution, air-dry only.

Drying Rack


Here’s what I consider essential in a great drying rack:

  • Collapsible: Ideal for easy storage, a collapsible rack saves space and effort when not in use.
  • Airflow: A good rack allows air to circulate freely around wet items, ensuring efficient drying from all angles.
  • Sturdy: Durability is key. A sturdy rack should accommodate various items without wobbling or collapsing.
  • Versatile: Whether hanging or laying flat, a versatile rack adapts to different drying needs with ease.

Best Inexpensive Drying Rack

SONGMICS Clothes Drying Rack, Foldable 2-Level Laundry Drying Rack, Free-Standing Large Drying Rack, with Height-Adjustable Wings, 33 Drying Rails

SONGMICS Stainless Steel Foldable Clothes Drying Rack

This stainless steel laundry drying rack is my pick for Best Inexpensive Drying Rack. It has it all.

The rack is stainless steel, fully adjustable, accommodating hanging and laying flat items while maintaining good airflow. It even accommodates slippers and sneakers.

When not in use, the rack folds to a really slim size, which means it fits nicely into even a very narrow space.

I personally love the convenience of this drying rack. Its hassle-free setup and sturdy design make it my go-to choice for air drying laundry, surpassing traditional racks in both usability and efficiency.

This drying rack stands alone well without wobbling and configures into six positions, depending on what needs to be dried. You can open one side or both. Set it up indoors or outdoors—on a porch, patio, or deck. At just 6 lbs, this rack is easy to move and carry from room to room, up and down staircases. Arrives assembled, requiring snapping 4 pieces into place. Easy!

I absolutely love this drying rack. Because it is so handy and easy to set up, I find myself using it more often than I ever used my traditional more-trouble-than-it’s worth wood, accordion-style rack.

16. The Cat!

do not put into dryer the cat

Just kidding! Your furry friend definitely doesn’t belong in the dryer. As much as they love warmth, they’re definitely not built for tumble drying!


Question: Do you have any additional items to add to the list of things that should never see the inside of a dryer? I’d love to hear your suggestions.

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  1. Julia Housley Waterman says:

    The drying rack from Ikea is VERY sturdy as well. I love mine and have given them as gifts. I love that one! Costco also frequently carries clothes drying racks that are much more inexpensive that are good quality if you are watching your pennies!

  2. Russell Patterson says:

    We have 2 of those round windup clothes lines in our garage. It’s perfect for air drying lots of different clothes. We use a smaller version in our laundry closet above the washer and dryer. Lingerie gets hung here using clothes clips/pins.

    We also have a clothes rod in the garage where we hang up shirts to dry. All of these are inexpensive and save a lot of use on our 20+ year old dryer. Clothes last longer.

  3. Cally Ross says:

    I love my clothes line for heavy stuff like jeans and blankets, and sheets just smell so good! That sunlight kills germs and odor that didn’t get washed out with detergent and Borax. I have a folding rack in my bedroom that I use for my work clothes and delicates. things dry quickly (box fan helps) they don’t have to be outside to dry! and they’re easy to put away since they’re in the room they belong in. Also easy to get dressed “off the rack”! 🙂

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