16 Things You Should Never Put in the Dryer

sweaters hanging on a rack

 Olga Polishko / Getty Images

Clothes dryers have replaced outdoor clotheslines in most homes. Dryers are a convenience that matches the rushed lifestyles to get laundry done quickly and easily. But whether you are doing laundry at home or in a laundromat, there are clothes and accessories that can't stand up to the heat of a clothes dryer and should always be air-dried. (And for the record, air-drying is generally better for most fabrics, and it saves energy.)

If you are caught in a pinch and need to dry one of these items quickly, you can give it a head start in the dryer with the air-only cycle (no heat). Add the item to the dryer with a couple of clean, dry cotton towels and allow the cycle to tumble for only 5 to 10 minutes.

  • 01 of 16

    Bras

    bras

    The Spruce / Ana Cadena

    Bras use spandex and elastic to stretch and provide support. Unfortunately, high temperatures break down those materials and will quickly ruin the shape of bras. Wash them correctly and air-dry to help them maintain their shape.

  • 02 of 16

    Backpacks, Lunch Bags, and Reusable Shopping Bags

    backpacks

    The Spruce / Ana Cadena

    If you think about all the things that end up in backpacks, lunch bags, and reusable shopping bags, it's easy to see that they need to be washed and cleaned often. But none of these things should be placed in a clothes dryer unless they are made of 100 percent cotton.

    The high heat of a dryer can cause the outer materials to melt, shrink, or warp and can destroy the inner structure of insulated bags.

  • 03 of 16

    Leather, Suede, and Faux Leather

    leather jacket

    The Spruce / Ana Cadena

    Even if you've been caught in a downpour, it's not a good idea to attempt to dry any type of leather, even faux leather, in a clothes dryer. The high heat can cause the fabric to distort or crack.

    Hang wet leather goods to air-dry away from direct heat or sunlight.

  • 04 of 16

    Silk, Lingerie, and Delicate Fabrics

    lace dress

    The Spruce / Ana Cadena

    Delicate fabrics such as silk, lace, and sheer net should never go into the dryer. The high heat can set in wrinkles that are almost impossible to remove. But, the biggest danger is something such as a zipper snagging the fabric and leaving a hole or pull.

    Continue to 5 of 16 below.
  • 05 of 16

    Activewear

    activewear

    The Spruce / Ana Cadena

    Just like lingerie, most of today's activewear is made from high-tech, synthetic fibers designed to support muscles and wick away moisture during exercise. To help these garments hold their shape and wicking qualities, avoid the dryer and allow them to air-dry after washing.

  • 06 of 16

    Tennis Shoes

    white sneakers

    The Spruce / Ana Cadena

    Tennis shoes can be made out of simple canvas, leather, or high-tech performance fabrics. After washing athletic shoes, skip the dryer. The high heat can cause the soles to separate and materials to become distorted. Allow them to air-dry for at least 24 hours before wearing again.

    For a speedier effect on less-fancy footwear, stuff the shoes with crumbled up newspaper. The pages will soak up the moisture and expedite the drying process.

  • 07 of 16

    Sweaters

    sweaters

    The Spruce / Ana Cadena

    Sweaters are created from knitted yarns that can lose their shape if washed incorrectly. And the final insult can come if they are tossed in a hot dryer. The heat can cause natural and human-made fibers to shrink or stretch and increase pilling. Returning a synthetic fiber sweater to its original shape is impossible, but some natural fiber sweaters can be saved so they can be worn again.

  • 08 of 16

    Natural and Faux Fur

    faux fur trim

    The Spruce / Ana Cadena

    Whether your fur got caught in the rain or needs cleaning, stay away from the high heat of the dryer. Excessive heat can cause the hide of a natural fur to crack and the fur to fall out. Simply hang the fur to air-dry away from direct heat or sunlight.

    For faux fur, high-heat can cause the fibers to melt and tangle. Allow the garment to air-dry and use a wide-tooth comb to slowly separate the fibers.

    Continue to 9 of 16 below.
  • 09 of 16

    Rubber-Backed Rugs and Mats

    bathroom rug

    The Spruce / Ana Cadena

    Bath mats can harbor bacteria that spread athlete's foot and odor; so they should be washed and disinfected often in hot water. However, they should never be put in the clothes dryer on high heat. The rubber backing can crumble and even melt.

  • 10 of 16

    Swimwear

    swimsuit

    The Spruce / Ana Cadena

    Swimwear needs to be washed after every wearing to remove body soil, sunscreen oils, sand, salt, or chlorine. But after washing, allow it to air-dry. Dryer heat will cause the fabrics to distort and ruin that summer look.

  • 11 of 16

    Hosiery

    hosiery

    The Spruce / Ana Cadena

    Whether silk stockings, ballet tights, or wool socks, hosiery should always be air-dried to prevent shrinking, snags, and pilling.

  • 12 of 16

    Sequined and Beaded Clothes

    embellished clothing

    The Spruce / Ana Cadena

    If you have clothes or home accessories with sequins or beading, keep them away from the dryer. If the embellishments are glued on, the heat can cause the glue to melt, and beads and sequins can become distorted.

    Continue to 13 of 16 below.
  • 13 of 16

    Bedroom Slippers

    slippers

    The Spruce / Ana Cadena

    Even if your bedroom slippers can go through the washing machine, don't put them in the dryer. The heat can cause non-skid soles to separate and melt.

  • 14 of 16

    Wool Clothes

    wool sweater

    The Spruce / Ana Cadena

    Some wool clothing can be tossed in the washer or hand washed easily at home. However, nothing made out of wool should be placed in the dryer. Wool is a natural fiber from sheep or goats, and the outer layer contains scales that interlock and shrink when subjected to excess moisture and high heat. Once the scales interlock, it can be quite difficult to return the fabric to its original size.

  • 15 of 16

    Oily and Chemically Stained Fabrics

    oily clothing

    The Spruce / Ana Cadena

    You probably won't be washing a big load of oily work rags, but even a load of laundry that includes oily kitchen towels or clothes splashed with gasoline can cause a problem if you put them in the dryer. The high heat can cause residual oils in the fabric to combust and start a fire, and oily materials can easily transfer to dryer surfaces. Always air-dry, preferably outside but out of direct sunlight.

  • 16 of 16

    Lip Balm, Gum, and Other Pocket Items

    gum and lip balm

    The Spruce / Ana Cadena

    Don't put anything in the dryer until you've checked the pockets for common items like crayons, gum, lip balm, jewelry, and even cell phones. The very best way to prevent disasters is to turn every pocket inside out before you put clothes in the washer. If you hear or see some evidence that pockets didn't get emptied before the wash cycle, check again before putting wet clothes in the dryer.