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Soaking Wet Clothes: Will They Ruin The Dryer?

A dryer is a washing machine’s alter ego and your ultimate best friend when you really don’t have the time, sufficient space, or appropriate weather to let your clothes air dry. It’s a really great tool to get items dry that you quickly had to hand wash before an important function.

Whether you wash your clothes by hand or let the washing machine do all of the hard work, putting the dripping load of washing straight into the dryer is really against your best interest. Keep scrolling to determine why.


Tumble drying soaking wet clothes reduces a dryer’s lifespan by making the motor and moving parts work harder and longer to dry each load. It is also an energy-inefficient practice, increasing monthly electricity costs. Rather run the washer spin cycle, air dry, or wring them out before tumble drying them.

Soaking Wet Clothes Will Shorten the Dryer’s Life

It might be tempting to just shove the sopping wet load of laundry straight into the dryer after the wash cycle is done, but unless you want to pay for it in the long run, don’t do it. First, you need to make sure that the washing is not too wet for the dryer.

Open door of a modern new front-load clothes dryer appliance machine with empty tumble
dryer

Putting soaking wet clothes into your dryer will reduce its overall lifespan. Instead of owning one for a decade, you might find yourself replacing it after only 5 or so years if you continuously perform this error.

Dryer Runs Longer

When you put a load of sopping wet clothes straight into the dryer from the washing machine, the amount of water that needs to be removed from the clothes is a lot more than what the machine is actually capable of doing in a normal drying cycle.

More water means more time to remove it, so your average drying cycle will take quite a bit longer than it normally would.

Not only does this mean that you will have to wait longer periods between loads (this is even more inconvenient with a washer dryer combo machine), but it will also mean you are using electricity for a lot longer as the motor will need to run for an extended period of time, which can become costly quickly.

Loads Are Heavier

It is no secret that a basket of soaking wet clothes feels much heavier than a basket containing the same amount of clothes, only slightly damp.

Washing machine isolated on white background laundry basket

Just take your average cotton t-shirt; if it normally weighs 5 oz. (150 grams), then once water has been added, it is known to increase by double its weight. This means that your t-shirt will now weigh close to 10 oz. (0.5 kg). Quite a difference.

Wet clothes will make the dryer load a lot heavier. This increased weight will put a strain on the drum of the dryer as well as other moving parts in order for it to perform its function.

This increases the chance of a premature breakdown and the risk of you having to replace certain components of the machine, like the dryer belt (crucial to the function of the dryer), or the entire appliance altogether.

Split Loads Means Dryer Runs More Often

If you try to reduce the weight of the wet clothes in your drum by reducing the load size, the effects on time and cost are significant.

Since you will be drying fewer clothes at a time to allow for all of the water to be removed properly, the dryer will have to run more often to accommodate the additional loads.

This increases your energy bill, decreases the efficiency of your dryer, as well as increases the time spent between loads, which can be very frustrating for those days when you feel like you are never going to see the end of the laundry basket.

Very Energy Inefficient

Dryers are appliances that use a decent amount of electricity in order to run. A report from nearly a decade ago stated that Americans are using up to 4 billion dollars worth of energy running their dryers. One can only imagine how this amount has increased over the 8 years since its publication.

Putting the wet clothes straight into the dryer as soon as they come out of the washer isn’t normally a problem because all washing machines have a spin cycle. It becomes an issue when the clothes are soaking wet—this will really end up costing you.

Soaking wet clothes will require the dryer machine to work overtime in order to remove all of the water from the load. The machine will either run for much longer than normal or, if you decide to split up the load into a few separate mini loads, will run more often.

The extended period of time in which your dryer will be operating will really rack up your electricity bill, which can start to cost you a small fortune each month and will probably weigh heavily on your conscience as your footprint increases.

How to Get Your Clothes Dry Enough for the Dryer

Here are a few useful tips for getting your clothes dry enough for the dryer to run more efficiently.

Use the Spin Cycle on the Washer

At the end of your washing load, you should always put the clothes on a spin cycle before removing them and placing them in the dryer. The spin cycle is there just to remove moisture from the clothes, which will allow them to dry faster in the dryer.

Pros of Using the Spin Cycle:

  • Your clothes will be significantly less wet, which means the dryer load will go faster.
  • The spin cycle is great for when you don’t actually need to wash the clothes first (such as if you got caught in the rain and simply want to dry out your jumper).

Cons of Using the Spin Cycle:

  • Your clothes may become quite wrinkled if not on the appropriate setting, which can make ironing more difficult (steam dryers can help with this to a certain extent).
  • The spinning cycle can be quite noisy.
  • You will be running the washer for longer than usual, so you will be using more electricity.

Wring Them out by Hand

Another way to dry out the soaking wet load before placing it in the dryer is to manually wring out the clothes by hand, to remove as much water as possible.

Closeup young Asian woman use hands washing color clothes in basin. Female squeeze wring out wet fabric cloth with detergent have soapy bubble in water, studio shot background, laundry concept

Pros of Wringing Out Clothes By Hand:

  • You will be saving energy costs as you won’t be running your washer or dyer for longer than necessary.
  • Your dryer will run for a reduced amount of time as there will be less moisture to remove from the clothes.

Cons of Wring Out Clothes By Hand:

  • The process of wringing out the clothes can be very time-consuming as you will have to wring out each item separately in order to get the most water out of each garment.
  • Wringing out clothes can also become extremely tiring and can cause some pain on your wrists and hands.

Hang Them up for a Few Hours

Another method to reduce the effect of sopping wet clothes in your dryer is to hang up the washing load on a clothes horse or washing line for a few hours before placing them in the dryer.

Woman Hanging Wet Clean Cloth On Clothes Line At Laundry Room

Pros of Hanging Up Clothes Before Placing in the Dryer:

  • You will be placing less strain on your wrists than if you were to wring out each garment separately.
  • Hanging up clothes costs you absolutely nothing in terms of energy costs.
  • Some of your smaller items might dry completely in the sun, and therefore won’t need to go into the dryer at all, which means you will have a smaller dryer load that will go even faster.

Cons of Hanging Up Clothes Before Placing in the Dryer:

  • If you don’t have sufficient space for a full washing line, you will need to purchase a clothes horse (like the Amazon Basics Foldable Laundry Rack (amazon link)), which can only hold a certain amount of items at a time so you might end up spending time looking for spaces to hang the clothes (such as over balconies or chairs).
  • Hanging up clothes can cause strain on your back because of the constant bending and rising motion.
  • The clothes will need to be hanging for a significant amount of time before they become dry enough to go into the dryer. This increases the time between loads which can become very frustrating for when you have a lot of laundry to do.

Sources

https://www.cda.eu/laundry/spin-explained/#:~:text=The%20spin%20cycle%20works%20to,dryer%20or%20by%20hanging%20outside.

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