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How Wet Can Clothes Be in the Dryer?

It can be tempting to toss our wet clothes straight into the dryer no matter the situation—straight out of the washer, right after hand washing the clothes, or after getting home during a surprise rainstorm and peeling off your soaked clothing. Many of us don’t see any problems with that.

Unfortunately, it is actually possible for your clothing to be too wet for the dryer to handle. Certain situations will require you to dry your laundry a bit first. We’re going to discuss why that is and look for some simple solutions for this problem.

Clothes can be damp but should not be soaking wet when put into a dryer. They could damage the dryer if they were still dripping. Clothes can go into the dryer right after a properly working spin cycle, after being well-wrung out of any excess water, and/or air-dried for 30 to 60 minutes.

Dripping Wet Clothes Should Not Go in the Dryer

As the name would suggest, clothes dryers are meant to dry your clothes. However, as I’ve already mentioned, there is such a thing as too wet when it comes to what clothes you can put inside the dryer.

While the clothes that you pull out of your washer will, of course, be damp, they should not be soaked enough to drip or dribble off excess water.

dripping water should not be included

Clothes that are too wet and waterlogged are much heavier than clothes that are just damp.

By putting a soaking load into the dryer, you are putting the drum, the motor, and the bearings under unnecessary stress that could wear your machine down.

Additionally, soaking wet clothes may take a much longer time to dry than damp clothes. Rather than running your dryer for one full cycle, it can take several cycles to get the clothes anywhere near dry.

Lastly, it is also possible for soaking clothes to cause an issue with your dryer’s electrical parts. While dryers are, of course, meant to handle some wetness, dripping clothes increases the risk of water getting somewhere it shouldn’t. 

Spun-Dry Clothes Can Go in Dryer

Laundry machines come with the ability to run a spin cycle, which usually runs automatically at the end of a wash. However, it can often be run on its own as well, which means even hand-washed clothing can get a good shake without having to use more water.

The spin cycle is meant to rotate your clothes around at high speeds, using centrifugal force to shake off much of the excess water.

After the spin cycle is done, your clothes should be left damp, not soaking. This is, again, the ideal level of wetness for clothing that goes into a dryer.

If your clothes are still very wet after going through the spin cycle, there may be something wrong with your washing machine. To save yourself the headache of having to get the excess moisture out another way, you’ll probably want to have this fixed.

Best to Air Dry for a Bit Before Tumble Drying

Some old washing machines may not have a spin cycle, or as mentioned above, yours may not be working at the moment.

Alternatively, if you hand wash your clothing but have a dryer, you still need a way to get your clothes dry enough that they don’t drip. This is where air-drying comes in.

air drying clothes

First, you’ll want to gently squeeze and wring out as much water as you can. If you’re in a rush, this might be sufficient on its own. But whenever possible, you should allow your clothes to air dry just to be safe.

For air drying, you’ll want to hang up your clothes for about 30 minutes to an hour. Use what you have—a laundry rack (amazon link), a clothing line (amazon link), or even a bunch of hangers (amazon link).

Hang your clothes as flat as possible and ensure they do not touch each other, so they are able to “breathe” on all sides and dry more effectively.

After your clothes have spent a short time air drying, they should be dry enough for your dryer to finish the job.

Heat Dry Clothes up to Avoid Ironing

While your clothing can be too wet for the dryer, thankfully, there’s no such thing as being too dry! That “thankfully” is because placing your dry clothing inside a dryer can save you time on ironing.

If you are in a rush and want to look put together, or if you have clothing you would like to look a bit neater, you can toss your clothes in the dryer for 5-10 minutes until they are nice and warm.

Remove your clothing before your dryer begins the cooling cycle. After removing your clothes, you’ll want to quickly smooth them out on a flat surface and allow them to cool for a moment.

Your warm clothes will set in the shape they cool down in, which is why this trick will neaten out your clothes. It is also the reason why forgetting your clothing in the dryer can leave them looking wrinkly and crumpled.


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