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To Dry or Not to Dry

Nothing can ruin your day more than pulling your brand new top out of the dryer, only to find…it shrunk. If you’ve experienced this one too many times, it may be time for a quick refresher on what types of clothing you should keep out of the dryer.

First of all, always check the clothing care instructions on the label to find out if and how the item should be dried. When in doubt, it’s always safest to air-dry clothes. This will save money, reduce wear-and-tear of clothing from tumbling in the dryer and ease concern about ruining clothing.

Second, sort clothing based on dry time. Put quick-drying items in one load and slow-drying items in another. Mixing fabrics in one load will cause some items to over-dry while others to be damp. Over-drying causes clothes to shrink, fade and wear out more quickly. By separating clothing into two separate loads of quick-dry items and slow-dry items, you will prevent over-drying and ultimately extend the longevity of your clothing.

Here is a quick guide to what can and cannot be tossed into the dryer.

Do not dry:

100% Cotton Fabrics

Clothing made of 100% cotton will shrink in the dryer. Instead, dry flat or hang up to dry. When purchasing clothing, look for pre-shrunk cotton fabrics.


Sweaters may shrink, stretch, unravel or pill if dried in a clothes dryer. In general, it’s best to dry sweaters flat. This will help prevent them from losing shape or from being ruining all together.

• Delicate Fabrics

The high temperatures and the tumbling motion of clothes dryers can ruin clothing made of delicate material, such as silk or cashmere. These fabrics are better suited to drying flat or hanging to dry.

• Wool

The heat and friction from the dryer will break down the wool fibers and cause the item to shrink. Wool fabrics are also prone to losing their shape, so carefully dry flat. Hanging them up to dry will cause the material to stretch and unravel.

• Lined Items

Clothing that is lined should be professionally cleaned and dried as the lining may respond differently to washing and drying than the outer part of the garment. This includes coats, jackets, sweaters and more.

Be careful with:

• Anything With Elastic

Over time, elastic dried in a clothes dryer may become warped or stretched out.

• Synthetic Fabrics

Quick-dry synthetic fabrics such as Spandex, nylon, Lycra, acrylic and polyester can be air-dried or machine-dried at a low temperature. Be sure to check the clothing care label to see whether the item is machine-washable.

• Wired Undergarments

Putting garments with an underwire in the dryer can cause the wire to become bent or misshapen.

• Sheer or mesh fabrics

A delicate drying cycle with a slow spin is acceptable for sheer or mesh clothing. Of course, air-drying is always a safe option.