Can You Tumble Dry Cotton?

During the summer months, drying clothes is generally super easy: just whack your wet clothes on the line in the sun, and they’ll be dry by the evening!

However, during the winter (or pretty much anytime in the UK, let’s be honest), it’s much more reliable to resort to the dryer.

There are potential problems that come with this though, especially with more delicate materials, including clothes shrinking or losing their quality!

Cotton is a very popular material in the textile industry, primarily down to its durability, breathability, and soft texture. Putting it in the tumble dryer can end badly though if you’re not careful. Read on to avoid any schoolboy errors!

Unfortunately, 100% cotton is likely to shrink in the dryer, so it’s best to stick to the washing line, clothes horse, or radiator!

However, cotton blends should be ok to put in the dryer on a lower heat (remember to check the label if you’re unsure!).

It’s a good idea to take the items out of the dryer asap and hang them to help prevent shrinking.

Tumble Dry Laundry Symbol

If you’re struggling, always check the care label on your clothing for the tumble dry symbol. This should tell you if it’s safe to tumble dry the particular item, and if so, the temperature you can go up to.

In the UK, the symbol that means an item is ok to tumble dry is a square with a circle inside. If you see the same symbol with a cross through the middle of the circle, this means that the item shouldn’t be tumble-dried.


How to Correctly Use a Tumble Dryer

How to Correctly Use a Tumble Dryer

Step one

Load the dryer with wet clothes, but not too wet! If your clothes are dripping everywhere then the dryer won’t respond well, and could take much longer to do a good enough job!

If this is the case, simply put it in for an extra spin cycle in your washing machine. This should get rid of most of the excess water!

Step two

Only put clothes that are safe to be machine dried in the dryer. Choose an appropriate temperature setting (this might not be possible on an older model, as there’s likely to be only one option). The best way to do this is to check the care label on your clothing.

Step three

Select the duration for drying clothes

Select the duration that you need your laundry to be dried for, and press start if necessary—on some models won’t need you to. After the drying cycle is complete, check that all of your clothing is dry. If not, just put them back in the dryer for a shorter cycle.

Step four

Don’t forget this one! Time to clean out the lint filter. The lint filter is there to collect any lint that your clothes leave behind during the drying cycle.

If you leave lint to collect, and eventually (sometimes after just one cycle!) block the filter, it can reduce the efficiency of your dryer. Plus, it can increase the risk of your tumble dryer overheating, which ultimately damages the dryer and is a safety hazard.


Tips to Master Tumble Drying!

  • Get the right load size! Don’t put so much laundry in at once that it gets tangled together, but also avoid underfilling your dryer, as it is a waste of both energy and money!
  • Avoid drying larger items, such as sheets and duvet covers, with smaller items such as socks and pants! By the time the machine has tumbled a few times, your socks have somehow snuck their way into the middle of your duvet cover and don’t dry properly!
  • Make sure that the location of the tumble dryer is on a hard floor (aka not a carpet), and has sufficient ventilation, as this will increase both the safety and longevity of your machine!

Happy drying (and hopefully no more shrinking)!