Tumble dryer featured and desktop image v3

Tumble dryer do's and don'ts

  • 5 min read

Written by Domestic & General

If you’ve tumbled out of bed and stumbled to the kitchen, poured yourself a cup of ambition and about to load the tumble dryer, you should make sure your cup of ambition has kicked in. Tumble dryers are essential to many households, but they aren’t as straightforward as some might think.

There are plenty of items you should never put in your dryer and there are certain practices to be aware of to avoid any accidental damage – either to your dryer, yourself or your favourite outfit.

Read on to find out what you can tumble dry and what you should never put in the dryer.

What can go in the tumble dryer?

Can you tumble dry jeans?

The main bit of advice to follow before you dry anything is to check each label. There will be tumble drying instructions depending on the material. But, unless the label specifically says not to, you are okay to put your jeans in the tumble dryer.

There used to be a school of thought that one should never wash or dry their jeans – ever. But that, thankfully, has changed. You’re fine to pop a pair of jeans in the washing machine and dryer but you should always turn your jeans inside out before doing so, and make sure to dry them on a lower heat. This reduces fading on the outer fabric.

Not only can you put your jeans in the dryer, but it might also be good for them. If your jeans are stretched out, a quick tumble in the dryer can help them regain their shape.

Can you tumble dry polyester?

As it’s one of the most common synthetic fabrics available, polyester is often paired with a variety of blends to create a wide range of clothing, apparel and home furnishings. Which could mean you’re going to be washing a lot of polyester and needing it to dry quickly on occasion.

Polyester is naturally quick drying, but if you need to pop something polyester into a tumble dryer, you should be fine to do so. Remember to use a low temperature to avoid any possible damage or shrinkage.

Can you tumble dry cotton?

Cotton is a popular material for clothes and bedding as it’s a natural, breathable fibre.

While cotton clothes are common, they aren’t all suited for tumble drying. 100% cotton clothes are likely to shrink when tumble dried, however, some cotton blends might be fine to dry on a lower heat. When in doubt, always consult the washing and drying labels of your items.

What fabrics should never go in a tumble dryer?

A lot of the materials listed above are used in daily wear, from exercise clothes to shirts and jeans. There are other materials that are less durable or flexible, usually used in more expensive clothing or occasion wear.

It is more likely that these materials should never go in a tumble dryer or a washing machine, and be taken to a drycleaner. These include:

  • Cashmere
  • Lace
  • Leather
  • Suede
  • Silk
  • Wool
  • Rayon

How full should a tumble dryer be?

You might want to make the most out of your dryer when it’s wet and miserable outside. What better way to warm up than freshly washed and dried sheets or pyjamas? However, trying to dry too much could have the adverse effect and leave you without a working dryer.

A good rule of thumb is to keep the tumble dryer drum no more than two-thirds full of wet clothes.

Anything over this can strain the drum belt, pulley, and spindle bearings and contributes to the most common reasons for dryer breakdowns.

It’s not just a potential breakdown you’re facing, too. An overly full dryer can cause wrinkled and damaged clothes.

Other tumble dryer safety tips

From checking the lint tray to never leaving a dryer on for too long, we’ve summed up some of our top safety tips when using a tumble dryer.

  1. Clean the dryer's filter after every load – an excess of fluff and lint can cause overheating and breakdowns.
  2. Dry anything with oil on it – oil being extremely flammable, you’ll want to ensure there’s no residue on any clothes before drying them. Any cloths used to wipe up spills in your kitchen or after DIY should be washed on a high heat cycle to get rid of any residue before giving them a spin in your tumble dryer.
  3. Stop before the cool down cycle is complete - You might be eager to get your laundry when it’s as warm and cosy as possible, but stopping your cycle early means you miss out on the cooling down built into each setting. This is important to avoid any burns (zips and buttons on clothing can retain heat) or overheating.