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 things. The sad truth: Some things just don’t belong in the dryer. In fact, one bathroom staple could literally light your dryer on fire (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 wouldn’t treat sheep this way.

4. Wool

sweaters in the closet
Sweaters in the closet | iStock.com/Jelena990
  • 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: Protect the item that protects your noggin.

5. Baseball hats

Worker moving boxes in baseball cap
Baseball hats take a lot of wear and tear. | Paul Bradbury/Getty Images
  • Instead: Rest the damp hat on a coffee jar or tall glass to air-dry. If you need to wear it soon, use a hair dryer on a low setting.

Representing your favorite sports team is hard when your hat is crumpled and faded. A washer and dryer will do a number on caps. So spot-clean and soak them in soapy water. Rinse, pat with a towel, and let them air-dry.

Next: Crucial clothing for cold-weather climates

6. Synthetic base layers and long underwear

Synthetic hiking clothes
Getting ready to hike. | gubernat/Getty Images
  • 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. | iStock.com/Fizkes

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: Make your favorite pair last as long as possible.

8. Denim jeans

A rack of jeans
Jeans | Tendo23/Getty Images
  • Instead: Air-dry your jeans by draping them on a sturdy hanger or rack, which will minimize wrinkles and fading.

Whether made with raw denim or stretchy spandex, jeans are durable. Still, we suggest the following rules to maintain color and shape. Don’t wash denim too often. Spot clean or freeze them instead, reports Live About. When you do wash your jeans, turn them inside out and use a gentle cycle.

Next: This elegant fabric is worth the extra effort.

9. Silk ties

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

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. | iStock.com/Darren Platts
  • Instead: Hang up bath mats outside and let air dry.

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 | iStock.com/FamVeld
  • 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: You won’t make it through winter without this staple.

12. 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: Drying this can destroy the color and feel of the fabric

13. Suede

Suede fringe jacket
A suede jacket needs extra care. | Bogdan Kurylo/Getty Images
  • Instead: Buff away dried stains using a suede brush, then pat with white vinegar. Treat a liquid spill with cornmeal or talcum powder.

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

Next: Some materials are completely hands-off.

14. Chiffon dresses and blouses

A chiffon blouse
This fabric requires extra attention. | Denisfilm/Getty Images
  • 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: Don’t dry clothing with details.

15. Embellished clothing

Wardrobe with glamour dresses
Glamour and party dresses of soft tulle fabric and glitter | iStock.com/AndreaMeling
  • 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: Being a “throw” pillow doesn’t mean you throw it in the dryer.

16. Throw pillows

Throw pillows on a bed
Don’t dry your throw pillows. | petrenkod/Getty Images
  • 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 Overstock.com says to proceed with caution. Throw pillows often involve delicate accents that must be air dried.

Next: Drying this staple is completely twisted.

17. Bras

Woman choosing bra
You probably want to keep that expensive undergarment intact. | iStock.com/PhanuwatNandee
  • 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.

18. Velvet

Blue velvet dress
A velvet dress | SomeMeans/Getty Images
  • Instead: Spot clean stains. Dry clean velvet clothing when necessary.

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

19. 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. | iStock.com/AntonioGuillem
  • 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.

Next: Give this fabric a little grace.

20. Lace

White lace blouses hanging
Keep your lace blouses beautiful. | iStock.com/Annaissakova
  • 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: Don’t dry any of your clothing if you do it this way.

21. Too much clothing at once

Pile of untidy clothes
You’d be tempted to dry it all at once. | iStock.com/luanateutzi

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.