You should see the big wad of lint I just plucked from the trap of my clothes dryer. Ack! Where does all of that come from? I know I emptied all pockets and I’m certain I did not wash a bag of pillow stuffing.
I’ll tell you what it is, and I am not happy about this: It’s visual proof the dryer is killing my clothes. Those fibers were neatly woven into these clothes, towels, and sheets only 30 minutes ago. For all the convenience a clothes dryer offers, it may come at the price of having to replace clothes much too often.
Drying clothes in a machine can cause the fabric to wear out prematurely. Worse, it causes items to shrink and not only the first time they’re washed. Sleeves and pant legs continually get shorter and shorter when machine-dried to death.
There are tactics to counteract the abuse suffered by a clothes dryer without having to revert back to the days of sheets and towels frozen stiff on the clothesline and still end up with comfy jeans and fluffy, soft towels.
Get the soap out
Residual detergent in fabrics causes them to feel rough. Add 1/2 cup white vinegar to the last rinse. This will help remove the residual detergent from the fabrics even when air-dried. Clothes and linens will be softer, too.
Never machine dry clothes—especially jeans—completely. Ten to 15 minutes is sufficient for most items to remove the major wrinkles. Now smooth and hang them to finish drying.
Hang by the ankles
Remove partially dry jeans and all other pants from the dryer and hang them on hangers by the hems on pant hangers equipped with clothespins or clamps. The weight of the pant will pull the fibers into place and keep the pants from getting shorter every time you launder them.
Emergency speed dry
When you need something to dry in a big hurry, here’s a great tip: Place the wet item(s) and one dry clean, dry bath towel into the dryer. Set the machine to the highest temperature safe for that particular wet item. You will have dry jammies (or whatever) in less than half the time because the towel will absorb a great deal of the moisture.
This is one of my favorite dryer hacks. Some clothes wrinkle in the dryer, no matter how quickly you take them out. Ironing can take care of that, but it’s time-consuming. A quick and easy solution for those the wrinkles—ice cubes! Throw 2 to 4 ice cubes in the dryer. The melting ice will interact with the heat of the machine to produce steam. That works well to reduce wrinkles while the clothes are drying, as long as you don’t leave the items sitting in the dryer.
This ice trick works best for smaller loads of laundry, where the released steam can work its way into fabrics with ease.
Step away from the dryer
Any item that has a rubber backing, like a bath rug, should never come in contact with the inside of a dryer. Lay it flat to air dry.
Don’t kill the spandex
Fabrics that contain spandex, latex, elastic, or have painted or silkscreened logos should not meet the heat of a clothes dryer. Even the elastic in pajamas, underwear and so on will break down quickly if dried on Hot. Make sure you always read the labels to determine fabric content and laundering instructions.
Get a portable drying rack or install a few extra towel bars so you can air-dry these more delicate types of fabric.
First published: 2-23-16; Revised & Updated 1-7-20