Surprising Things You Should Never Put in the Dryer

Laundry is a necessary evil. After washing a load, isn’t it just easier to throw everything in the dryer? Absolutely. But it will ruin some of your clothes and household items. The unfortunate truth: Some things just don’t belong in the dryer. In fact, one bathroom staple could literally destroy your dryer (page 10).

1. Gloves and mittens

hand wearing glove holding smartphone

Wet, smelly gloves are the worst. | NemanjaMiscevic/iStock/Getty Images

Instead: Set your gloves in a warm, dry area to let them air out. Don’t rest them on a heater or use a blow dryer.

Many people can recognize the musty odor of poorly dried ski gloves after a day on the slopes. Unfortunately, damp mittens and gloves are a breeding ground for fungus and bacteria. Invest in more than one pair, and alternate your gloves so they can air dry.

Next: This everyday accessory causes chaos in a dryer.

2. Bags and purses

Woman gets ticket

Few bags will survive the dryer. | iStock / Getty Images Plus

Instead: Wipe your bag down with a cloth — or Febreze it. Then air-dry it.

Believe it or not, many people throw their purse or briefcase in the dryer. Whether made of plastic, leather, or fabric, putting your dirty purse in the dryer could harm the material or even your appliance. (Imagine melted faux leather coating the inside.)

Next: Drying this full-body clothing item would be a full-on disaster.

3. Overalls

Duluth Trading Co. overalls

Overalls are made tough but not for the dryer. | Duluth Trading Co. via Youtube

Instead: If you can’t air-dry your favorite overalls, put them in a pillowcase, pin it shut, and dry them that way.

Overalls are just like jeans, right? Well, except for the metal clasps and exposed metal buttons. Dry overalls correctly, otherwise you’ll dent and chip the inside of your dryer.

Next: You won’t make it through winter without this staple.

4. Winter coats

A woman checks her smart phone

Winter coats demand proper care. | John Moore/Getty Images

Instead: Lay your wool coats flat and reshape the arms as they air-dry. Hang your fleece coats and give them space to air-dry. (You can dry down coats in the dryer.)

Snow and salt can do a number on your winter coat. Check the labels for washing instructions. Store your coats in a plastic bin and keep them somewhere cool, dry, and dark to avoid moisture and sun damage.

Next: You wouldn’t treat sheep this way.

5. Wool

sweaters in the closet

Sweaters in the closet |

Instead: Post-wash, shake out your wool items by hand and lay them flat to dry.

Wool clothes and blankets keep you warm and cozy; they’re thick and often well-made. Your wool items likely get a lot of use, especially in colder months. But keep them out of the dryer; if not, wool will both shrink and lose its shape.

Next: Crucial clothing for cold-weather climates

6. Synthetic base layers and long underwear

Man shoveling snow

Most Americans have a pair of long underwear for cold winters. |

Instead: Hang your base layer to air-dry, preferably near a warm heat source. (Do not  rest it directly on a radiator.)

The great thing about synthetic base layers: They don’t absorb much moisture, so they dry quickly. Air-drying is best; even tumble drying in the dryer can cause irreversible shrinkage.

Next: This type of shoe is too expensive to ruin.

7. Running shoes

Female hands lacing running shoes. Closeup

Putting your sneakers in the dryer can cause lots of problems. |

Instead: Try this ingenious, simple way to clean your running shoes.

Imagine this: You buy a new pair of athletic shoes and get them dirty. You probably give them a good scrub and throw them in the dryer, right? Wrong. Drying running shoes can shrink the rubber, ruin cushioning, and weaken adhesives, leaving your sneakers pretty useless.

Next: This elegant fabric is worth the extra effort.

8. Silk

Don’t ruin your business ties. | Source: iStock

Instead: “Lay wet silk clothing flat onto a clean, absorbent towel and roll it up in the towel to rid excess moisture,” says Tide. “Unroll and repeat using a second dry towel, then lay flat on a drying rack.”

Drying silk can cause a garment to lose its shape and shine. Always avoid the dryer.

Next: Being a “throw” pillow doesn’t mean you throw it in the dryer.

9. Throw pillows

Throw pillows and rug

Throw pillows on a leather couch | John Lewis

Instead: Remove the cover and machine wash it on delicate. Then hang to dry, recover your insert, and fluff.

It’s tempting to toss throw pillows in the dryer. But says to proceed with caution. Throw pillows often involve delicate accents that must be air dried.

Next: One seemingly safe bathroom staple will destroy your dryer.

10. Rubber bath mats

Gray and white patterned bathmat

High heat can crack the rubber. | Platts

Instead: Hang bath mats up to dry outside.

Bath mats with rubber backs are non-slip and water-resistant — perfect for the bathroom, but not for the dryer! Worst-case scenario: The rubber material will light on fire if it gets too hot. If anything, the rubber underside of non-slip mats can crack in the dryer. Do It Yourself has some great mat washing and drying tips.

Next: This revealing garment becomes nearly unwearable once a dryer’s involved.

11. Bathing suits

Happy little kids jumping into swimming pool

Happy little kids jumping into swimming pool |

Instead: Lay your swimsuit on a flat surface in a dry area out of direct sunlight.

As a general rule of thumb, never dry anything with elasticity. Even after some tosses in the dryer, your suit will start to unravel and lose its stretch — exactly what you don’t want. (Also, dry your suit in a shaded area; the sun will fade it.)

Next: Drying this can destroy the color and feel of the fabric

12. Suede

a suede men's jacket

A suede men’s jacket | Source: Nordstrom

Instead: Buff away dried stains using a suede brush, then pat the stains with white vinegar. Treat a liquid spill with cornmeal or talcum powder.

Suede’s rich texture is good for boots, shoes, vests, jackets, and accents. But suede should never enter your washing machine or dryer. It’ll actually ruin the fabric’s color and feel.

Next: Don’t dry clothing with details.

13. Embellished clothing

Wardrobe with glamour dresses

Glamour and party dresses of soft tulle fabric and glitter |

Instead: Spot clean the clothing if it just has a stain. If you forgo the dry cleaners, wash the garment on the gentle cycle and always air dry.

A hot dryer’s tossing and turning will destroy sequins, beads, and embroidery. Embellishments will melt, break off, and even get stuck inside your dryer’s vents. It’s best to follow care labels with adorned clothing and home goods.

Next: Drying this staple is completely twisted.

14. Bras

Woman choosing bra

You probably want to keep that expensive undergarment intact. |

Instead: Hang up bras or lay them on a flat surface to dry.

Bras get a lot of use, so they need to be cleaned pretty often. But, as every bra-wearing person knows, nothing shortens the life of a bra like throwing it in the dryer. The high heat and vigorous motion cause these undergarments to lose their shape and elasticity fast.

Next: This sophisticated material isn’t made for the heat.

15. Velvet

Blue velvet J. Crew men's jacket

Preserve your velvet by air-drying. | J.Crew

Instead: Dry clean it.

With its luxurious look and feel, velvet is gorgeous but hard to maintain. If you have velvet pillows or clothing, it’s best to keep them clean (and dry) by handing them over to professionals. The Guardian puts it plainly: “All velvet should be dry-cleaned.”

Next: Some materials are completely hands-off.

16. Chiffon

Pink chiffon fabric

This sheer fabric is as delicate as it is beautiful. |

Instead: Dry clean any clothing involving chiffon.

Chiffon fabric is light, sheer, and flattering. It’s also not supposed to go in the dryer. The National Cleaners Association suggests you only preserve your chiffon blouses, gowns, dresses, and handkerchiefs by trusting them in the hands of professionals.

Next: A pair of these don’t need more stretch.

17. Tights

Woman stretching her legs out with tights

There’s nothing worse than finding a run in your tights as you’re putting them on. |

Instead: Handwash your tights with mild detergent and lukewarm water. Squeeze any water out of the tights and hang or lay them flat to dry.

Discovering a run in your go-to pair of tights? So disappointing. Are your laundering methods to blame? To avoid shrinkage and runs, keep them out of the dryer.

Need: Melting this fabric in the dryer would be a disaster.

18. Vegan leather

BLANKNYC Faux leather moto jacket

You don’t want your gorgeous jacket melting. | Nordstrom

Instead: Wash or wipe your garment by hand with soapy washcloth, then hang to dry.

Vegan leather, or pleather, doesn’t belong in the dryer. The high heat can melt your garment, ruining it and possibly your dryer. Unfortunately, dry cleaning typically isn’t an option, either.

Next: The perfect example of shrinkage

19. Rayon

Green fabric with sheen

Rayon also wrinkles easily when it comes in contact with moisture. |

Instead: Air-dry your rayon clothing on a flat, dry service.

Rayon is created from wood pulp treated with chemicals, according to Real Simple. Based off those contents, you can assume rayon isn’t dryer-friendly — unless you want your new blouse two sizes smaller.

Next: Give this fabric a little grace.

20. Lace

White lace blouses hanging

Keep your lace blouses beautiful. |

Instead: “Gently press out excess water,” instructs The Laundress. Then lay it flat, in its natural shape, to air dry.

Lace makes for beautiful curtains, table runners, and clothing items. Though, much like velvet, lace should never end up in the dryer. While drying your lace items, make sure you don’t wring them.

Next: Treat this item like you would your own hair.

21. Wigs

Mannequin heads with brunette wigs

Air-dry or blow dry your wigs on a wig stand. |

Instead: suggests air-drying synthetic hair and blow drying wigs made of human hair — all on a wig stand.

The dryer may seem like a no-fuss way to dry wigs after washing, but these items can get tangled and damaged after just one round in the dryer, even if you place them in a bag.

Next: Don’t dry any of your clothing if you do it this way.

22. Too much clothing at once

Pile of untidy clothes

You’d be tempted to dry it all at once. |

Instead: Follow the load capacity suggested in the owner’s manual.

A jam-packed dryer can “overwork the drum, bearings, heating elements and cause the unit to breakdown,” according to Compact Appliance. To make matters worse, packing your dryer with wet clothes will just give you a pile of damp, wrinkled garments that you have to run through the dryer twice.