Anyone with experience doing laundry knows the feeling of removing a blouse from the dryer that has clearly shrunk. While we wish there were simple rules for remembering how to dry clothes, it sometimes just isn't that easy. To help you keep your clothes free of stains, wrinkles, and damage, use our guide to drying clothes the right way.
We'll cover different clothing materials, textures, colors, and weights and how you should change your drying method for each. Learn what setting to use on your dryer and when to opt for a clothes-drying rack. When you pay close attention to your clothes and treat them with care, you'll be surprised at how long they last and how nice they feel in return.
As a general rule of thumb, clothing items laundered in a permanent-press or regular cycle in the washing machine can also be dried in the clothes dryer. But it's always best to check the clothing care label. You especially don't want to machine-dry anything that is required to be washed by hand. When in doubt, air-dry garments on a clothes-drying rack. This option saves money on fuel bills, extends the longevity of clothes, and reduces concerns about ruining certain clothing.
Before even washing clothes, you need to sort clothing. Separate wash loads by texture (which produce lint, which attract it), fabric (put clothing items of similar materials together), soil (separate heavily soiled from lightly soiled), and color (whites, lights, darks, items that bleed). This will serve you well as you sort clothes for drying. But in a nutshell, separate clothes for drying by weight. Mixing heavier items with lighter items might mean one comes out overdried and the other still damp.
Give just-washed clothes a glance and a shake. Glance at them to see if the washing machine did its part in removing stains. If stains remain, take another shot at treating them with our tips on how to remove stains from laundry. If a stained garment goes into the dryer, the stain will likely become permanent. Shake out garments or linens before putting them in the dryer to remove hidden items (such as socks), help items dry faster, and help reduce wrinkles.
You might think you're saving time and energy by packing as much into your dryer as possible. In reality, the clothes will take longer to dry and will likely come out looking much like they did when they were first stuffed in—wrinkled and misshapen. Keep the dryer load small enough to tumble easily and freely in the dryer drum. Learn how to dry clothes fast by readjusting large loads, such as sheets and blankets, during their cycle so they dry faster and more evenly. This will help prevent you from having to iron clothes.
Consider the benefits of air-drying clothing rather than using a clothes dryer.
If you do not have a clothesline, there are ways to dry your clothes indoors. For starters, you may want to purchase an indoor clothes-drying rack. These usually fold down when not in use, so they store very easily and discreetly, helping you to organize your laundry room. You can find other surfaces around your home to drape clothes over, such as a towel rack or shower curtain. Try not to hang damp clothing on surfaces that may warp or rust when wet, such as wood or metal. Most surfaces in your bathroom are waterproof, so that's a good place to start air-drying clothes.
Related: How to Fold Clothing and Towels
Here are additional tips for drying clothes indoors:
Whether you air-dry clothes from a clothesline inside or outside, each type of item should be hung in a particular way so it ends up looking its best.
If you're wondering what temperature to dry clothes, check the clothing care label to make sure you're doing what's best for the fabric. Some clothes may need a lower heat setting or even require line drying. If no care label exists, follow these suggestions.