How to Safely Tumble Dry Clean Clothes - dummies

How to Safely Tumble Dry Clean Clothes

By Gill Chilton

Removing stains and achieving clean clothes isn’t over once the washing cycle ends. To get your clothes ready to wear, you need to use your drier correctly.

An average drier holds between 5 to 6 kilograms (kg) (10 to 13 pounds [lb]) of dry cotton or woollen items. Synthetic fabric needs more space to tumble without creasing, so the maximum weight drops to 3kg (6.6 lb). Provided you don’t overload your washing-machine, you can simply transfer washing between the two machines. Exceptions are the few things that you can’t tumble dry for fire safety reasons.

The high, dry temperature inside the tumble drier is suited only to items that have been washed in water. It isn’t safe to tumble items that have been dry-cleaned. They may contain traces of flammable dry-cleaning solvents. In addition, you can’t tumble:

  • Foam rubber or rubber-like materials

  • Plastic-backed film, as found on children’s waterproof sheeting and PVC rainwear

  • Large bulky items such as continental quilts, sleeping bags, pillows, double duvets

    Don’t tumble dry bulky quilts, even if you can fit them into the machine. A dry quilt is bigger than a wet one. So, as your bedding expands during drying, it could block airflow through the drier and create a fire hazard.

Tumble driers use heat. As the hot air tumbles through the clothes, it converts to steam. In an air-vented machine, this steam goes to the outside through the outlet hose. Condenser driers cool or condense this steam back to water, which sits in a tray at the bottom of the machine, ready to be emptied after each load. Condenser driers win on noise, lack of steam, and drying accuracy.

The most likely reason for a tumble drier fire to start is when a spark from the drier’s heat source ignites a pile of the lint that hasn’t been cleared away. Always empty the lint filter after each wash. Run your finger along vents too, to pick up any fluff that collects there.

Unless you’re on a tight budget, there’s no need to let fear of cost stop you from using your drier to the full. On high heat, electricity costs around 15 pence (p) per hour; around 8p per hour on low. And if you’re really counting the pennies, tumbled clothes need less, and sometimes no, ironing. So there’s an electricity saver there.

Tips for better tumble drying

  • Cut your work on items that you know are hard to iron by giving them more room in the tumble drier and taking them out when they are slightly damp.

  • Cut static by using fabric conditioner on clothes you plan to tumble.

  • Take out and shake bulky items such as anoraks and fleece jackets every 15 minutes or so.

  • Reduce the drying time when you’re drying synthetics. A full wash load of synthetic fibres takes around 80 minutes to dry, compared with 120 minutes for a cotton load.

  • Follow drying times on your machine, but take care not to over dry as this makes clothes feel hard and rough.

Many hand-wash items can be tumbled – just look on the care label. But don’t take them dripping into the drier. Wring them if the material can handle it or wrap items between two towels and press out water.

Freshen unworn, dry clothes by popping them in the drier on a low setting with a fabric conditioner sheet for five minutes.