A collection of items that should not be placed in the clothes dryer

Clothes dryers are convenient appliances to dry loads of laundry. With this convenience comes some inconvenience, limiting what can and cannot safely be placed into a dryer.  

Tennis Shoes, Sneakers

Image of sneakers. The dryer loosens the glue and will make the sneakers come apart from the sole.

Whether made of canvas, leather, or other fabric, your tennis shoes will likely do very well in the washing machine. But the dryer? Not at all.

They’ll tumble loudly and perhaps come out fine the first time, but what you won’t easily detect is that the glue that holds them together has been compromised. It melts in the dryer’s high heat, then resets but in a much different way than when the shoes were new.

And that canvas or other fabric? Plan on it shrinking and twisting out of shape. Put those two things together—glue melt and fabric shrink—and you get distortion and sole separation.

Now that you know what causes such early demise of sneakers and tennis shoes, air drying is preferred and usually will take 24 hours to dry.

Bras, Lingerie

Bras and lingerie contain spandex and other elastics, which become damaged by the dryer's heat.

All bras have some spandex and elastic, which are synthetic products made to stretch and provide shape and comfort. Heat is the enemy of stretchy things.

If you want your bras and other lingerie items to enjoy a long lifespan, maintaining their original shape and loveliness right to the very end, never put them through the clothes dryer.

Instead, wash bras and lingerie using good mesh zippered lingerie bags, then air dry. This routine will make all the difference and give the items longevity.

Reusable Fabric Bags

Reusable bags becomed damaged by the dryer's heat. The fabric breaks down and eventually the bottom will fall out, rendering them useless.

Backpacks, lunch bags, fabric tote bags, and reusable grocery bags need to be cleaned frequently—especially if used to carry them for food items that are likely to leak onto the fabric.

More than likely, your washable bags will do nicely in the washing machine, provided you make sure your cycle settings for water temperature and so forth are compatible with the bags’ type of fabric. However, putting fabric bags through the clothes dryer is just asking for trouble. Plan on them shrinking at the least and falling apart at the most.

A much better idea is to allow bags, backpacks and totes to air dry.

Rubber-backed Mats, Rugs

Rubber-backed mats break down with the heat and the crumbling material poses a dryer fire hazard

Have you ever wondered why the rubber backing of your bath mats, placemats, or other scatter rugs gets stiff and crumbly and eventually peels away, leaving quite a mess?

More than likely, you’ve been putting those washable mats through both the washer and dryer. The washer is fine, but it’s the heat of a clothes dryer that melts and ruins the rubber and other types of non-slip coatings.

While this may not be noticeable on the first trip or two through the dryer, you’ll soon notice the failed backing. The crumbling rubber can also become a fire hazard. Instead, allow rubber-backed mats of all kinds to air dry.

Swimwear

Swimwear contains spandex, which does not hold up in the dryer

Swimming suits and other swimwear should be washed after every use to remove chlorine, salt and sunblock residue. It’s only natural to throw these items into the clothes dryer as well. Stop! The heat of the dryer will soon destroy the spandex and other synthetic properties of great swimwear.

Swimwear will last longer if you get into the habit of skipping the dryer and allowing these pieces to air dry.

Leather: Real or Faux

Never place leather goods in the dryer, regardless of them being real or faux

Even when the care tag on that beautiful leather jacket, those awesome gloves, or faux leather throw pillow clearly states “washable,” don’t skip the part about drying. 

The heat of a clothes dryer can cause these leather products, both imitation and real, to crack and distort. That means one sleeve could get all wrinkled (permanently) while the other is stretched out of shape. It’s not worth finding out how your item will react.

Instead, hang leather jackets, pants, gloves, hats and other items in a dry area away from direct heat or sunlight.

Silk and Other Delicate Fabrics

The dryer's heat breaks down the fibers in silk, lace and other delicate fabrics

While some silk fabric and garments are hand-washable, silk should never go into a clothes dryer.

Silk is very delicate, and the high temperatures of the tumble dryer can shrink or damage silk. The chances are great that it will come out permanently wrinkled.

And lace? Whether a large piece or simply an embellishment, lace can become easily torn because it is so delicate.

Activewear

Activewear contains spandex and other materials that are damaged by the dryer's heat

Workout wear typically contains a high percentage of spandex and elastic. When these types of garments are exposed to the dryer heat, the fabrics and fibers are weakened.

These garments often include liners designed to wick away sweat and perspiration. Don’t take a chance by putting your workout clothes into the clothes dryer, which is sure to weaken those synthetics and destroy the wicking qualities.

Sweaters

Sweaters become mishapen and contain pilling when placed in the dryer

Whether a sweater is hand- or machine-knit, it is delicate—especially if made from wool or another natural product. And if made from synthetic or man-made fiber, the fact that it is knitted rather than woven makes it sensitive to a clothes dryer’s heat and tumbling action.

Tossing it into the dryer to be heated up and tumbled simultaneously increases the likelihood that it will come out of the dryer completely out of shape. And if that’s not bad enough, expect to see “pilling” on the sweater’s surface, which makes it look old, tired, and worn out.

Tights, Hosiery

Tights and hosiery should be air dried as the dryer's heat breaks down the elastic material

You may assume that you can put tights, pantyhose, and other delicate hosiery into the clothes dryer, provided you place them in a mesh laundry bag first. But don’t believe it.

These items are very delicate, made from synthetic fibers. Heat is the problem, and not just very high heat. Once dried in this way, you will shorten that item’s useful life.

Always air-dry hosiery.

Sequins, Beaded Garments

Sequins and/or beaded garments require caution as these sequins and beads are often glued on, NOT stitched on. The heat will soften the glue and off come the embellishments.

Tops like this one are popular, where hundreds of tiny beads are glued on to the fabric. The dryer will soften the adhesive and, you guessed it, off come the embellishments, one at a time. 

Never expose an item with sequins or beads to the heat of a clothes dryer. Instead, wash by hand, then allow to air dry.

Slippers, Slip-proof Socks

The soles of slippers are usually rubber, held to the fabric by adhesives. The dryer's heat softens this adhesive, rendering the slippers useless.

Fabric slippers appear to be washable, and most are. For sure, slippers should not be dried in a clothes dryer. You must assume that glue has been used to attach the soles and trim. And quite possibly to close seams.

The heat of a clothes dryer is likely to melt the glue, causing the soles on slippers and the non-slip coating on socks to separate. These items should always be air dried.

Wool

Wool garments of any kind will become mishapen when exposed to the heat of a dryer.

Wool requires special care when it comes to cleaning. Assume that it will shrink if exposed to hot water or heat. Always wash in cool water and allow to air dry. Follow that rule, and you won’t have to deal with shrunken socks, sweaters, throws, and blankets.

Clothes dryers don’t have an adequate wool cycle, a pretty good indicator that they’re not equipped to handle wool. Wool sweaters, scarves, blankets, and throws should be laid flat to dry to prevent them from stretching or becoming mishapen.

Rags Saturated with Oil or Grease

Even after the wash cycle, rags will still contain oil and grease residue, that when exposed to heat, could ignite a dryer fire.

Do not put oily rags or towels in a dryer—even if washed to be reused.

The heavy-duty garage and mechanic-use rags, saturated with grease, oil, and/or solvents, still contain dangerous residues that the heat from the dryer can build to a point where it ignites an already flammable material. No matches, torches or open flames required.

Bottom line: Never put oily rags in a clothes dryer. Spread them out to air dry.

Dryer fire prevention