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.
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Backpacks, Lunch Bags, and Reusable Shopping Bags
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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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Natural and Faux Fur
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.
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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.
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Sequined and Beaded Clothes
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.
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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.
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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.
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Oily and Chemically Stained Fabrics
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.
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Lip Balm, Gum, and Other Pocket Items
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.