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A complete guide to tumble dryers

A tumble dryer can be a great asset on rainy days, but do you know how the best way to use your dryer? We've got tips and explain tumble dryers here!


Reading Time: 5 minutes

By Cleanipedia Team

image of tumble dryer
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Key Steps:

Check the wash care labels on your clothes!

  • A square with a circle inside it means the item can be put in the tumble dryer.

  • A large X through the square means the item cannot be tumble-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.

For information on all the different wash symbols read our handy guide to wash care labels.

When using a tumble dryer, it’s important to make sure that you follow the symbols on the label – some items do not respond well to tumble-drying!

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Why Tumble Dry?

People use tumble dryers for many reasons: mostly convenience. To get the most from this machine, you need to choose a model that suits your needs and our tumble dryer buyer's guide can help. If you already own a machine and are worried it may not be working at its best - or have safety concerns driven by tumble dryer recalls - then it's important to check your warranty and get a professional to check it for safety.

Knowing when and how to use a tumble dryer will not only speed up your laundry process but also prevent any shrinkages. 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. 

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 high heat, with a single dot symbolising tumble dry on low heat.

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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 Tumble 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 football 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

Ever wondered if tumble dryers shrink clothes? You could be using too hot a setting. 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. Read our guide on whether tumble dryers shrink clothes to make sure you don't in the future!

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

How to Use a Tumble Dryer Effectively

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 dryers. Enjoy your warm, dry clothes!

Originally published