Lately, my toddler has been putting all sorts of items in the dryer. He sees me putting clothes in it, and he wants to help, but he still hasn’t figured out that only certain items are meant for the dryer. The result is that I have to check very carefully before turning the dryer on, as I’ve discovered everything from toy cars and Play-Doh to random dishes hidden within.
“Helpful” toddlers aside, there are a number of things that shouldn’t go in the dryer, some of which you may not have realised you are putting at risk for ruin — or for starting a fire. To do get a sense of what we shouldn’t be tossing in there, we reached out to Jason Kapica, president of the Neighborly company Dryer Vent Wizard. Here are Kapica’s recommendations, along with some of our own.
As Kapica notes, the rubber backing on these rugs won’t stand up to the dryer’s intense heat; it can crumble, which creates a fire hazard. For safety’s sake, don’t put rubber-backed mats — or, for that matter, anything else with rubber in it, such as sneakers — into the dryer.
Although dryer sheets certainly make your laundry smell nice, they can actually be bad for your dryer. As Kapica points out, the residue will build up on your filter, eventually decreasing its efficiency and making lint hard to remove, due to the sticky film adhering to some of the lint. Furthermore, dryer sheets can also cause mould and mildew, thanks to the water that gets trapped in the dryer and accumulates over time.
Sandy towels and beachwear
Sand grains can get stuck in the dryer drum, which means you’ll be shaking sand out of your laundry loads for weeks or months after drying up the sandy beach towels and swimwear. Sand can also damage the drum, which can lead to a costly repair. After a day at the beach, shake out all of the sand from your laundry before washing and drying.before putting it into the laundry.
Fabrics covered in pet hair
As tempting as it is to just stuff your fur-coated clothing into the laundry and be done with it, this is not a good idea. As Kapica notes, over time, all of the pet fur gets clogged in the lint trap or vent, which leads to longer drying times and a potential fire hazard. So for the sake of your safety, as well as your wallet, use a lint-remover to de-fur your clothing before stuffing them in the laundry.
Crayons and candy left in your kids’ pockets
We know, we know. It’s hard when you have kids, who leave god-knows-what in their pockets, and who has the time to go rummaging through every last pocket when you also have small children underfoot? However, as tempting as it to just shove all of the clothes you’ve collected off their bedroom floor straight into the laundry, that’s not such a good idea.
For items that melt easily, such as candy, crayons, or chewing gum, not only will this leave stains on the clothing (which, to be honest, is par for the course), it can also be a fire hazard. Given that kids are already a potential fire hazard in ways both literal and figurative, there’s no need to add “dryer fire”’ to your long list of fires that need to be put out. Dig through those pockets.
If you’ve been doing a home renovation project that involves paint, and you’ve been largely unconcerned about splattering paint all over those old sweatpants, we understand. However, know that your clothing is covered in paint, it should not go into the dryer. Flammable materials + the heat of a dryer = a fire hazard. The idea is to renovate your home, not burn it down.
Backpacks or lunch bags
When your kid comes home with a backpack or lunch bag that smells all kinds of funky, whether it be from the balled-up gym clothes or some long-forgotten food item, your instinct may be to let the washer and dryer handle the mess. However, unless it’s made of pure cotton, most of the materials are likely to melt or warp in the dryer.
Leather — including the fake kind
Putting your leather jacket into the dryer is not a good idea. Leather is delicate, and the dryer’s high heat will cause it to warp and crack — the same goes for suede, as well as faux leather.
Silk, lace, and other delicate fabrics
In addition to creating wrinkles that are almost impossible to get out, putting silk and lace in the dryer comes with the risk of the delicate fabric ripping — usually when it catches on a zipper. To preserve your delicates, hang them or lay them flat to dry.
Too many clothes
If you, like so many of us, are tempted to stuff your dryer to the brim as a way of cutting down on the number of loads you need to do, that’s actually probably making the situation worse. As Kapica points out, an overstuffed dryer can overwhelm your machine, reducing its efficiency, and causing it to run longer. If you want to save on time, keep your dryer loads to a reasonable size.