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How To Properly Use a Clothes Dryer

You would think that drying your clothes would be as easy as turning on the machine after placing the clothes inside. It’s not, though. You have to put thought into machine-drying your clothes. 

Remember, not all materials can handle the heat. For them, you will need to use a lower temperature setting.

Other fabrics may even melt if you keep them in the dryer for too long, or the tumbling may cause tearing of delicates. For these, you may need a dryer that comes with a rack you can set your clothing. 

Tips for Proper Machine Clothes Drying 

“Some neighborhoods don’t allow outdoor clotheslines, drying large items like bed sheets is nearly impossible on inside dryer racks, and many of us are pressed for time and can’t wait for clothes to air dry, but are you getting the best results from your dryer?” 

Cleaning & Organizing Author Mary Marlowe Leverette, The Spruce 

Leverette explains that you can’t always avoid having to use a matching clothes dryer. This leaves you with no choice but to make the most of it. These tips should help you have better clothes drying experiences. 

1. Leave Room For Clothes to Tumble

According to the WikiHow writing staff, stuffing your dryer with too much clothing will cause it to turn out damp. Worse yet, it can damage the mechanism that turns your clothes round and round during the drying cycle. 

If you wash a double load of clothing, separate it into at least two piles. Then, add one to the dryer at a time. Laundromats provide extra dryers if you don’t want to let the second wet load sit out for too long, risking mold growth that causes clothing stench. 

2. Wash Smaller Loads In The First Place 

One way to avoid using the laundromat is to wash smaller loads in the first place. Then, you can fit them all in your washer all at the same time. 

If you add clothing to your washer to no more than about three-quarters full, that should help you designate dryer space. Ideally, your clothing should not fill more than two-thirds of the total drum space though. 

3. Stick To Recommended “Fill to” Line 

Having a different size washer versus dryer drum makes it tough to decide how many clothes you can fit in your dryer. That’s one time when you may have to divide the load from the washer before placing it in the dryer. 

If your clothes dryer machine has a recommended fill to a line, don’t go past it. It’s there to tell you if you place more clothing in it. 

Otherwise, place your arm over the clothing to see if it fits. If you can’t even fit your hand or your arm inside the dryer after putting clothing in it, that’s a sign that you have overstuffed it. 

If you turn it on and your clothing doesn’t turn, that’s another sign it’s too full. You could always place a piece of tape on the dryer door if it has a window. That may help you not fill it too full. Otherwise, take a ruler and measure at least two to four inches from the top of the inside of the drum. 

4. Use The Dryer Setting Guide 

Some dryers come with a setting guide. This will help you decide what temperature and type of drying (ex: timed dry or permanent press) settings you should use. 

Usually, you can dry heavier fabrics in warm or hot heat. The lighter fabrics often require medium or “cool dry” heat settings. If your dryer doesn’t have a setting guide, you could consult this How to Dry Clothes in a Clothes Dryer written by Pierre Lehu. 

5. Follow Clothing Label Instructions

Most clothing labels will explicitly state “air dry only” and will also emphasize “no machine washing.” If you don’t heed these instructions, that’s when the drinking, rips or holes, and other damage will occur. 

If you’re not sure, at least research the type of fabric, it is if you know. This reference, for example, lists the different temperature levels and types of materials you can dry in a machine.

Cotton, acrylic and denim or linen are some you can dry in a clothing dryer. 

6. Always Clean The Lint Trap Before New Load

The easiest way to not forget to clean the lint trap may seem compulsive but worth it. Check it before every load to make sure there’s no lint in it. 

Then, check it after to make sure you remove all the lint for the next load. It just helps to be doubly sure you remove the debris from the trap because it’s the easiest way to ensure your clothes will dry. 

By the way, cleaning the lint trap is also a safety tip. It can reduce fire risk because it won’t travel back down your dryer air output pipe. 

7. Shake and Untangle Wet Clothing 

Shaking out your clothes after you wash them reduces wrinkles that you have to iron. It can also improve air circulation between clothing, reducing drying time. 

Untangling wet clothing also helps reduce the chances of wrinkling. It will also require less energy to dry them, which reduces your energy bill. 

8. Take Out Dress Clothing That Is Slightly Damp

If you know a fabric easily wrinkles, pull it out while it’s still slightly damp. Then, hang up the items in your closet far enough apart so they don’t touch while drying.

This will save you time when getting dressed for work or other important dress-up occasions. 


When using a clothes dryer, we recommend using medium to smaller loads. This will make your drying and washing times significantly more efficient. If you consistently enter in big loads, you will be waiting longer for the clothes to dry.

Don’t stop here. We have plenty of other articles that every homeowner should know.