tights and tumble dryer

Can You Tumble Dry Tights?

Tights are a staple in many wardrobes, especially in the UK, where the weather can be unpredictable!

So, whether you wear tights to keep warm or add them to an outfit to make the perfect ensemble, knowing how to take care of them is essential.

One burning question that tight wearers have is, can you tumble dry tights? The short answer: It is possible to dry some types of tights in a tumble dryer. However, it’s usually better for your tights if you air-dry them instead.

There are a number of factors you must consider before you machine dry your tights. These include what the care label says, what your tights are made of, and how thick they are. Let’s take a look at these in more detail.


Factors to Consider Before You Tumble Dry Tights

1. Check the care label

reading care labels on clothes before wash

Your first step when drying tights is to check the care tag on the tights’ packaging to see how they need to be maintained. The label will provide you with specific drying instructions that you must adhere to.

If your tights are tumble dryer-safe, you will see a solid square with a circle in its centre. This symbol means that the garment can be dried in a tumble dryer. If there is a single dot in the centre of the circle, you must use low heat to dry the tights.

However, if you see a giant cross going through the circle or the words ‘Do not tumble dry’, you mustn’t tumble dry your tights. The label may also state that you must ‘Line dry’ your tights. 

If you gloss over the care instructions, you’ll likely dry your tights in a way that’s unsuitable for the material. This, in turn, will lead to the material shrinking or warping, and you may not be able to wear the tights again.

Note: Remember that even if your tights are dryer-friendly and you dry them under the right conditions, they may still feel snug when you put them on. Sometimes dryer-safe garments don’t hold up well in a tumble dryer, and they succumb to some minor shrinking! Given that you don’t have much wiggle room with tights, it might be better to err on the side of caution with them.


2. Consider what your tights are made from


Most tights are made from a combination of Lycra and either nylon or cotton. When you mix these materials, you get an elastic-y, stretchy type of material that fits snuggly to your lower body.

However, these materials are often sensitive to heat and are prone to damage (shrinking and snagging), which is why it is not the best idea to tumble-dry tights. Air drying is the most favourable way to dry such materials as it is a much softer, kinder drying process.

For example, nylon will lose shape and become brittle when heated up, and elastane will lose its elasticity.

Losing precious elasticity isn’t something you want to happen to your tights, as it’s enough of a problem to get them on in the first place. You can’t afford to lose any leeway!

It’s better to check the care label on your tights before you dry them to make sure they’re dryer-friendly.


3. Think about the type of tights you have

kinds of tights

There are many kinds of tights available, and all of them have different care instructions.

For example, you can get sheer, fishnet, opaque, and thick tights.

Sheer tights are one of the most delicate ones, so you’ve got to be more careful with them.

They usually can’t be tumble-dried because their fine fibres break down and end up damaged (snags) when exposed to extreme heat and agitation.

Whereas thicker tights, like those containing cotton, may be able to withstand a dryer’s heat and agitation better.

Even so, you must be careful when drying these types of tights. You cannot whack the heat up and run an extra long cycle to dry them – a cycle like this will damage the tights! 

If ever you’re in doubt, air dry your tights.


Tips for Safely Tumble Drying Tights

If you can tumble dry your tights, make sure you dry them in the best way possible so you don’t ruin them. Take note of the following points:

Use a delicate, low-heat cycle

tumble dryer low heat cycle

If you’re allowed to tumble dry your tights (it states so on the care tag), choose a short, gentle, low-heat cycle. You don’t want to put your tights under needless stress in the machine. Otherwise, they’ll shrink or get snagged.


Use a mesh laundry bag

Using Laundry Bags

Before you pop your tights in the dryer’s drum, place them in a mesh laundry bag to keep them safe.

Placing the tights inside a mesh laundry bag stops them from being flung around inside the drum. It also stops the tights from getting knotted and caught up in other items in the appliance!

In addition, by using a mesh laundry bag, the tights shouldn’t sustain damage during the agitation process, like snagging, because there’s an extra layer of protection around them.

As someone who’s laddered a good few pairs of tights over the years, I know only too well how easy it is to damage tights.

So, keep the tights wrapped up when they’re in the dryer so you can prevent problems and protect their longevity.


Should You Tumble Dry Tights?

pink tights in tumble dryer

It is possible to dry some tights in a tumble dryer, but you cannot dry all types of tights in a machine. Whether you can tumble dry your tights largely depends on what their care label says, what material they’re made from, and what type of tights you have.

For example, if the tag on your delicate sheer tights states, ‘Do not tumble dry’, it would be silly to machine dry these tights because they won’t hold up in the dryer, and they may come out of the appliance damaged or shrunk.

On the other hand, if you can machine dry your tights, they’re made from a sturdy, thick material, and you dry them on an appropriate setting (low heat, gentle and short cycle), you should be able to dry your tights in a tumble dryer with very little problem.

It is, however, worth highlighting the importance of drying your tights correctly in the dryer if this is what you plan on doing. So, make sure you choose the gentlest, lowest heat cycle, and use laundry bags to keep your tights safe during the drying session.

Remember, even if the tag on your tights states that they can be dried in a tumble dryer, it doesn’t mean you have to dry them this way. You can air dry any type of tights you have.

From personal experience, whenever I’ve dried dryer-safe tights in a tumble dryer, they’ve never fitted as well as they did pre-drying. The tights feel too snug and are not the most comfortable items to wear.

Trying to get the tights on isn’t fun, either. And I’ve ended up doing the unattractive wiggle dance too many times whilst trying to squeeze myself into the tight-fitting garments. It’s not exactly practical or straightforward.

If in doubt, air them out!

hanging tights to dry

Although it’s okay and convenient to dry some tights in a tumble dryer, in general, the best, and arguably safest, way to dry your tights is to stick them on a washing line or to air them out by laying them on a flat surface. In short, air-drying your tights preserves them!

Air drying ensures the tights’ fibres are not subjected to too much heat, agitation and unnecessary stress. In turn, the tights’ longevity is protected, and they don’t end up shrunk or snagged.

If at any point you have doubts about tumble drying your tights, just air them out in the traditional way and leave the machine drying for your other, more hard-wearing garments.

Tights won’t take too long to dry if they’re left to dry naturally, and if they’re allowed to blow in a gentle breeze, the drying time will decrease considerably. Just remember to move your tights away from the sun’s glare, as the sun’s heat can sometimes strain the material’s fibres.