Artazum/shutterstock If you're short on time and in a rush, it's easy to just throw everything in the dryer from the washer and call it a day—but there can be some major consequences for some of your clothing if you do that. So, we reached out to dryer experts to find out exactly what should never, ever end up in a dryer. And trust us, it's worth taking an extra minute to make sure your machine is free of these 14 things.
According to the National Fire Protection Association, between 2010 and 2014, U.S. municipal fire departments responded to almost 16,000 fires that involved dryers and washing machines. Of those statistics, dryers were the culprit of 92 percent of them. While it might seem obvious to never put anything that can catch on fire in your dryer, it's easy to just toss those pants you spilled gas on in the dryer without thinking. "Washing clothes will not completely remove oil residues," says Tim Adkisson, Director of Product Engineering at Sears Home Services. "Failure to obey this warning can result in ﬁre, explosion, or death." (Here are some ways you can easily de-stink your clothes—and there's no washing required.)
While tossing your activewear into the dryer won't damage the machine itself, it could ruin your clothing. Since most activewear is sweat-wicking or even coated to protect from the sun's rays, it's definitely not dryer-friendly. "Drying your activewear in the dryer and exposing it to all that high heat and friction can be damaging to the functional components that these technical fabrics are developed for," according to Brit Turner, co-founder of Fit Atelier. "The heat can also wear away on any elastic properties that your garments may contain and weakens the material—leading to tears, holes, picks, and runs." Instead, Turner suggests hanging or laying your activewear flat to dry after washing it in a cold or delicate washing cycle.
Luisa Leal Photography/Shutterstock Yes, you read that right. While dryer sheets might be intended to be used, well, in the dryer, that doesn't mean they're good for your health. "They are bad for your respiratory system, your skin, and moreover, the environment," says Dr. Elizabeth Trattner A.P. DOM, doctor of Chinese and Integrative Medicine. "These are toxic and cause long-term health hazards. It is worth throwing them out and trading them in for a healthier option like scented wool balls using essential oils." Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to use all those dryer sheets outside of the laundry room.
Content continues below ad
As anyone who has tossed lingerie in the dryer might know, this greatly reduces its lifespan. "Do not put a good investment in the dryer. Heat will shorten the lifespan of a bra and wear down the latex, lace and other fabric in it," according to Dr. Elizabeth Trattner A.P. DOM, doctor of Chinese and Integrative Medicine. "Treat your undergarments with respect. Put bras in special lingerie bags and remove them and hang them from the washing machine or better yet hand wash and hang dry." (Speaking of lingerie, this is the ONLY way you should be washing your underwear.)
Sandy towels and beachwear
Warm sand might be nice to sit down and relax in when you're at the beach, but it can be a pretty pesky nuisance if it ends up in your dryer. "Sand can get trapped between gaps in the drum," according to James Peters, Kenmore Laundry Product Manager. "This adds an irritating sound when drying and can damage the dryer over time."
Joerg Huettenhoelscher/Shutterstock Anyone who has a furry friend at home knows just how messy things can get—their hair ends up everywhere. But one place where it should never, ever end up is in the dryer. If the hair builds up over time, it could begin combining with lint and debris around it, especially if the lint screen isn't emptied before every load. "Excess dryer lint is a major fire hazard, can cause your dryer to become damaged, and also reduces the efficiency of your dryer," according to Dave Lavalle, founder of Dryer Vent Wizard, the nation's leader in dryer vent repair, cleaning, and maintenance. "To avoid a possible fire sparking, make sure to keep the areas around your dryer, including underneath and behind, free of extra pet hair, lint, and debris that might build up."
While you're probably not actively trying to dry your chewing gum, it does occasionally get thrown in there by accident. And unfortunately, by the time you notice, the damage has probably already been done. "Gum can have lasting damage if left in the pockets of your clothes," says Josh Matteson, a writer for Lula, a home services on-demand company. "It can either permanently stick itself to clothes or fall out of the pocket and stretch all over the wall of your dryer." (By the way, you won't want to overlook these vital home maintenance tasks that could cost you thousands in repairs.)
Content continues below ad
If you've ever bought spandex leggings or yoga pants, you probably know that they can be pretty expensive. With that being said, if you toss them in the dryer, they probably won't ruin your machine itself—but there's a good chance they'll shrink a bit, which could be costly to replace. "[They should] be hang-dried to avoid shrinking," says Peters. "Although many people will also dry them with an air dry cycle with good results." Here are some other laundry mistakes you should avoid, too.
Viktoria Minkova/Shutterstock According to jsonline.com, while some faux leather is actually washable, it should never be put in the dryer. "Heat melts plastic, ruining your garment and possibly your dryer. This obviously rules out ironing as well." The same goes for dry cleaning. Ultimately, air drying your suede garments is definitely your best bet.
Tights or pantyhose
If you've ever worn tights, you probably know how easy it is for them to rip and tear. And after a trip in the dryer, that little hole that wasn't noticeable before is probably running down the entire leg. The material your tights are made out of might even cause them shrink when its exposed to high heat. "The best thing you can is to air dry them, but do NOT hang them! Hang drying tights will stretch out the material and even potentially ruin them," says Caleb Backe, a health and wellness expert for Maple Holistics. "As an alternative, try rolling your freshly laundered tights into a dry towel and let them dry overnight." (If you've ever accidentally shrunk these fabrics, here's exactly how to un-shrink them.)
Lace is another delicate fabric that should never meet your dryer. In fact, according to thelaundress.com, you should really be avoiding machines altogether. Instead, lay your lace garment flat to dry so it doesn't lose its natural shape or damage the fabric. (Also, here's why you should ALWAYS wash new clothes before you wear them.)
Content continues below ad
Indigo Club/ShutterstockUnfortunately, you should probably find another way to dry your favorite sequined top. Sequins, gems, stones, or whatever other items that are embellished onto your garments can hook onto other items in the dryer, or even the dryer itself. This can potentially damage the garment itself and its surroundings. According to goodhousekeeping.com, "It's way easier to hang dry [embellished garments] or—if the material is thin or delicate—lay them on a towel to air out."
Yuexun Ding/Shutterstock According to tide.com, you should avoid both the washer and dryer when it comes to your silk garments. Instead of adding your delicate silk clothing to your dryer load, the website suggests laying it flat to dry on a towel, then rolling it up inside of it to squeeze out excess moisture. After, repeat this process with a second towel.
Rubber-backed bath maths
Putting a rubber-backed bath mat in the dryer can end up being pretty messy. According to Peters, "The rubber can crumble and get caught in the dryer, which can cause a fire hazard."
Next, find out what you should never, ever put in the washing machine.