9 things you should never put in a tumble dryer

From tights to trainers, avoid drying these clothes and materials in a tumble dryer

Things you should never put in a tumble dryer
(Image credit: PlanetCare / Unsplash)

Using one of the best tumble dryers can cut your laundry job in half. Rather than waiting days for your clothes to air dry, chucking your clothes and towels into the dryer is much quicker and more versatile. Most clothes are ready to wear straight from the dryer, and you don’t have to worry about wrinkles or your clothes losing their softness either.

Having said that, chances are you’ve gone to remove an item of clothing from your dryer only to find it shrunk, pilled and wrinkled. While a good quality tumble dryer can tackle almost anything you throw into it, there are some clothes and materials that should be kept out of your dryer.

While air drying may take longer, it’s worth it to avoid ruining your clothes or damaging the inner workings of your machine. If you’re unsure whether an item of clothing can be tumble dried, make sure to check the care labels on your clothes and follow the cleaning instructions. But as a general rule of thumb, you should never put these nine items and materials in your tumble dryer.

1. Bras and swimwear

Things you should never put in a tumble dryer: bras

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Bras and swimwear should never go in your tumble dryer. These types of clothing are typically made from Spandex, Lycra or other elastic materials which don’t fare well in a dryer. The high temperature breaks down these materials which can ruin the shape and stretch of your bra so it won’t sit or fit well when you put it on. Bras with underwire and metal clasps can also damage the dryer if they get caught and they tangle easily with other clothing, leading to rips and tears in other items. Similarly, swimwear can lose its shape in a dryer and its waterproof properties. Air drying is your best bet with these types of clothing.

2. Tights

Things you should never put in a tumble dryer: tights

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Tights, pantyhose and other hosiery are best left out of your tumble dryer. The material of tights is too fragile and delicate to withstand the heat and motion of your dryer. Any type of rigorous movement can cause tights to rip, run, shrink, snag and pill. Tights and hosiery is also notoriously tangly and can easily weave and knot itself around other clothing in your dryer, making it hard to separate your clothes and leading to more breaks and tears in your hosiery. The good news is the mesh-type material that tights are made from can air dry very quickly, so you shouldn’t have to wait too long for your tights to dry.

3. Bags

Targus Cypress Hero backpack

(Image credit: Targus)

Whether you favour a handbag or one of the best backpacks, your everyday bag can get a little messy, especially if you’ve accidentally spilled your lunch inside it. But whatever you do, don’t put your bag in the tumble dryer to speed up its drying process, unless your bag is made of 100% cotton. The high heat and tumbling motion of your dryer can cause the outer materials to shrink. If you have a bag with a protective outer coating, this can melt away and warp its appearance, and remove its protective properties. The inside of your bag can also be ruined and shrunk by your tumble dryer. Most bag materials shouldn’t go in the washing machine either, so it’s best to hand wash your bag and leave it out to dry.

4. Trainers and slippers

Things you should never put in a tumble dryer: trainers

(Image credit: Luis Domenech / Unsplash)

While some shoes can go in the tumble dryer, others shouldn’t, particularly running shoes and slippers. The heat of your dryer can cause the soles of your trainers to separate and melt, which can distort the look of your shoes. Combined with the action of your dryer, the decorations and adhesives on your shoes can be worn away, causing your shoes to fall apart and ruining the inner cushioning and support. Most slippers have rubber soles or undersides for extra grip but a tumble dryer can melt this away, making your slippers less grippy. This rubber material can potentially cause a fire in your machine too!

5. Wool

Things you should never put in a tumble dryer: wool

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Not only should you never put wool in a washing machine but it should also steer clear of your tumble dryer. As wool is a natural material, excess heat can cause your wool jumpers to shrink and appear misshapen, worn and pilled. Most wool clothing needs to be hand washed in cold water so once you’ve done that, lie it flat and leave it to air dry. Lying wool flat will help your clothing keep its shape.

6. Silk

Things you should never put in a tumble dryer: silk

(Image credit: Susan Wilkinson / Unsplash)

Similar to wool, silk is extremely delicate and can’t handle the high temperatures inside a washing machine, tumble dryer or washer dryer. Putting a silk top inside a tumble dryer can result in your item getting shrunk and becoming wrinkly. The heat can actually set wrinkles into your clothes, giving your clothes a crumpled and oddly shaped look. As silk is so fragile, it can catch on other clothes in your dryer, causing snags, tears and holes. Hand washing and air drying is your best option with washing silk (see how to wash silk bedding for cleaning tips).

7. Leather

Things you should never put in a tumble dryer: leather

(Image credit: Lea Ochel / Unsplash)

Another material that shouldn’t come into contact with your washing machine or tumble dryer is leather. The water from your washer can make fake and real leather to shrink and the heat from your tumble dryer can cause the material to lose its shape, dry out and crack. To keep your leather jacket intact, spot clean it for any stains and leave it out to dry.

8. Fur

Things you should never put in a tumble dryer: fur

(Image credit: Polina Tankilevitch / Pexels)

Similar to leather, natural or faux fur can crack and melt in your tumble dryer. Whether you’re drying a full fur coat, a fur trim or a pair of UGGs, the heat and motion of your dryer can cause the fur to fall out, which will not only ruin the appearance of your clothing but can get caught inside your dryer and damage the drum. It’s best to let fur clothing air dry and use a comb to separate the fur that might have clumped together after a wash. 

9. Sequins

Things you should never put in a tumble dryer: sequins

(Image credit: Valeria Boltneva / Pexels)

Sequins, beads and other embellishments are often glued on to clothing. When sequins meet the inside of a tumble dryer, the heat can melt the glue, causing the sequins to fall off. This will ruin the look and shape of your clothing and can damage other clothes in your tumble dryer, as well as the dryer itself. Even if the sequins are sewn on, they can still easily snag on other clothing, ripping your clothes and damaging the sequins.

Bethan Girdler-Maslen
Home Editor

Beth is Home Editor for T3, looking after style, living and wellness. From the comfiest mattresses to what strange things you can cook in an air fryer, Beth covers sleep, yoga, smart home, coffee machines, grooming tools, fragrances, gardening and much more. If it's something that goes in your house, chances are Beth knows about it and has the latest reviews and recommendations! She's also in the know about the latest deals and discount codes from top brands and retailers.

Having always been passionate about writing, she’s written for websites, newspapers and magazines on a variety of topics, from jewellery and culture, to food and telecoms. You can find her work across numerous sites, including Wedding Ideas Magazine, Health & Wellbeing, The Bristol Post, Fashion & Style Directory, TechRadar, CreativeBloq and more. In her spare time, Beth enjoys running, reading, baking and attempting craft projects that will probably end in disaster!