Quick Tips For Drying Laundry For Safety & Results

  • If you’re in a rush for a load to dry–try tossing a thick cotton towel in with the load of wet items. The towel will absorb some of the moisture. If it’s a large load, throw in two or three towels.
  • If garments have been left in the dryer too long and are wrinkled, toss in a clean, wet towel (not dripping wet–wring out excess water first) then turn on for 15 minute intervals until wrinkles are no longer a problem.
  • Drying knits, sweaters and denims inside out can help prevent fading as well as pills developing on the fabric (especially helps with knits and t-shirts). If a garment is pilling, try firmly brushing a pumice stone across the garment to remove the pills.
  • For feather pillows or down duvets: Throw in a few clean tennis balls towards the last 30 minutes or so of the cycle. This helps fluff and beat the pillows as well as circulate the air better.
  • Fight static cling and save money by using Wool Balls. These will cut your drying time yet leave clothes soft, fluffy and static free without the use of chemicals or sheets. Based on the old “tennis ball” trick, but without the tennis balls! See this post for how to make them.
  • Fresh and fragrant laundry can be achieved chemical free with easy to make lavender bags. Using lavender buds gives the benefit of a natural moth repellent, sleep aid and a natural antibacterial. You can add about 1/2 cup vinegar in your rinse cycle for static cling help and skip the static sheets. See this tip for more info: Homemade Herbal Lavender Bags.
  • If you have a problem with lint or fluff on freshly laundered items, it could be that your load size is too big or you’re not emptying the lint trap as needed.
  • Increase the efficiency of your appliance by giving the lint trap a quick wash. See notes below for more details.

Safety

Have you ever wondered why clothes dryers are the cause of so many home fires? I know of two different families who lost everything this way (happened several years apart) and to me, that makes it not as uncommon or isolated as one might think.

Here is some information explaining why this can happen (in the U.S. they account for about 15,600 structure fires, 15 deaths, and 400 injuries annually – Source: U.S. Fire Administration – pdf). I also have below a collection of safety tips and maintenance issues to be mindful of.

The Hows and Whys

A clothes dryer works by forcing hot air through a turning drum. Wet clothes placed in the drum are then dried by the moving hot air. It is possible for a full load of wet clothes to contain as much as one and a half gallons of water.

Lint is created from the clothes as the water is removed and the clothes dry. While much of the lint is trapped by the filter, lint also is carried through the venting system, together with moist air.

The accumulation of lint, both in the dryer and in the vent, reduces the airflow and creates a highly flammable fuel source.

In addition to the accumulation of lint, blockage in exhaust vents also can occur from the nests of small birds and animals or from bends in the venting system itself. A compromised vent will not exhaust properly to the outside. Overheating may result.

If enough heat is produced to ignite the lint itself or nearby combustible items, such as the clothes in the dryer or combustibles left nearby, the engineered safety mechanisms are compromised and fire ensues.

Source: U.S. Fire Administration (pdf)

Tips:

  • Always make sure the lint filter is in place & make sure to clean it out after each use. Failure to clean out lint traps is the main cause of fires.
  • Make sure the appliance is plugged into an outlet that is suitable for its needs.
  • Make sure it is properly vented and that vent flaps are not freezing shut or sticking (especially in winter). Remove lint buildup inside the vent by vacuuming occasionally.
  • Pull out the appliance occasionally to vacuum away any lint behind or underneath. Learn how to remove the front panel and vacuum inside to remove built up lint.
  • Do not leave the house unattended when the appliance is on.
  • Do not leave flammable items nearby (garments, rags, soap supplies, etc.).
  • This is an electrical (or sometimes gas) appliance, make sure it’s serviced by a professional only.
  • It’s recommended to use UL- listed rigid aluminum or steel duct or spiral-wound aluminum flex hose, NOT white vinyl hose (see Page 5 – U.S. Fire Administration).
  • Have a functional smoke detector placed in the laundry room (somewhere near the appliance).

More Resources:

Did You Know: Wash The Lint Trap
*First published December 30, 2006 and moved to this page for better organization

Removing the fuzz from the lint trap between loads is something we all know needs doing. But did you know you should regularly wash the trap in warm, soapy water as well?

Here’s why:

…keeping the lint filter clean is one simple way to increase the efficiency and lifespan (and decrease the operating costs) of your dryer. Just removing the lint from the filter isn’t always enough – the fine mesh of most dryer filters can be clogged in ways that aren’t obvious at a casual glance. As suggested by the piece quoted above, softener sheets can cause waxy build-ups on lint screens that require a little extra effort – usually no more than a quick scrub and rinse in warm, soapy water – to remove.

Source: Snopes.com

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What Readers Are Saying: 5 Comments
  1. Cathy says:

    When drying fitted and flat sheets add a dry bath towel to keep the sheets from balling up around each other and the insides not drying.

  2. nancy campbell says:

    you can also put the washer on a second spin. this is what i do and it helps lower the electrical cost of the dryer. i do this for every load!

  3. Ruth H says:

    Try line drying if you can. Saves money AND the wind blows out creases in a lot of garments. So less ironing required. Here is Australia, most people line dry. I think our more consistent weather helps, but in summer anywhere, you can hang the washing and save money. The fresh air also makes it smell good.
    Also save money on wet days by hanging clothes over a clothes drying rack. If you have ducted heating in the floor, put the rack over it. Alternatively put in front of a fire or heater. Makes the most of heating the house!

  4. Rachel says:

    I thoroughly agree with Ruth H’s comment about line drying. It’s unfortunate that this is so foreign to North Americans. There are so many benefits — laundry is beautifully aired, smells great, you save money and reduce electricity use.

    HOWEVER: drying wet clothes *inside* is not a good idea. A full load of laundry can contain up to 5 litres of water. When you dry over a rack inside, that moisture has to go somewhere — it makes the air inside humid and moisture is absorbed into floor coverings, curtains, walls, bedding … damp houses are unhealthy, unpleasant and hard to heat.

    I will air clothes inside on a rack if they are slightly damp from the line (it’s best hot water cylinders are insulated, but I do miss the airing cupboard I grew up with).

  5. Emily says:

    Not sure where Rachel comes from but line drying is definitely NOT foreign to most North Americans its actually extremly popular however, when you take into account the living quarters of many North Americans, you’ll notice that home ownership hasnt been on the up and up and therefore line drying outside isnt often allowed in places like apartments, townhomes, nursing houses, and other community based living areas.

    All in all both line dry and a machine dry have its pros and cons.


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