How to Use a Tumble Dryer

Do you know how to make use of your tumble dryer? In this article, we explain everything you need to know about tumble dryer symbols, settings & more.

Updated 24 April 2023


AuthorBy Cleanipedia Team

Reading Time5 minutes

how to use a tumble dryer

We’ve all seen the diagrams on the labels of our clothes, but how often do you take the time to identify what they actually mean? Known as ‘Common Care Symbols’, it’s often easy to ignore these as common sense takes over – but the tumble dry symbol in particular is worth paying a little more attention to.

When using a tumble dryer, it’s important to take note of the symbols on the care label – some items do not respond well to tumble drying! You can also freshen up clothes by drying them on a low heat for a few minutes.

Why Tumble Dry?

Knowing when and how to use a dryer will not only speed up your laundry process, but also prevent any shrinkage. A tumble dryer circulates your freshly washed clothes in hot dry air, in a larger drum than a washing machine, to dry your clothes more evenly and reduce creases. This means less ironing.

What Does the Tumble Dry Symbol Mean?

Decoding the Common Care Symbols is a lot simpler than it sounds, and can indicate whether and how to use a dryer with your clothes. A square represents the drying process with a circle inside the square indicating that the item is suitable to tumble dry. If the symbol has a large X through it, the item is unsuitable to tumble dry. The two dots contained within the circle symbolise tumble dry on a high heat, with a single dot symbolising tumble dry on a low heat.

Not all garments can withstand tumble-drying, so be sure to check labels for the tumble dry symbol first. Watch out for silk, knitwear, delicates, and dry-clean only items in particular, as these can be prone to shrinking and disfigurement.

When and How to Use a Dryer on a High Heat

For cotton and garments that take longer to dry (jeans, towels, sweatshirts etc.) use the tumble dryer on a high heat setting. This is also the best option for those occasions when time is not on your side, and you suddenly end up with a muddy sports kit that must be cleaned for that morning’s footie match.

Top tumble drying tip: Place a dry towel in with your wet load to help soak up the excess water and cut down drying time.

When And How to Use a Dryer on a Low Heat

Drying clothes on a low heat over a longer period of time will help remove creases and prevent fabrics from losing their stretch. Remember to look out for the single dot on the tumble dry symbol and, if in doubt, check the manufacturer’s instructions first.

Top tumble drying tip: Freshen up dry clothes by tumble drying them on a low-heat cycle for five minutes.

How to Use a Dryer

Once you’ve taken your wet clothes out of the washing machine, leave to dry slightly before separating into high heat/low heat piles. Organising your washing in this way will not only save you time, but money too. The wetter your clothes, the more electricity required to dry them, so don’t be tempted to put a sodden towel in with a bunch of flimsy tops.

Your clothes will also dry quicker the less you pile into the dryer, so be careful not to overload it (about 5-6kg of dry laundry is the maximum recommended weight) and check any pockets first for loose coins or remnants from lunch – a stick of chewing gum or inky pen can lead to more than a little mess! Turn the dial to the correct setting and press ‘Start’. After the tumble dry has finished, remove clothes and fold or hang up whilst hot to reduce wrinkles and minimise ironing.

That’s it – a complete guide to tumble drying. Enjoy your warm, dry clothes!

  • A square with a circle inside it is the tumble dry symbol, and means the item can be put in the tumble dryer.

  • A large X through the square means the item cannot be tumbled dried.

  • Two dots within the circle means you can tumble dry the item on a high heat.

  • One dot within the circle means you should use a low heat.

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