white jacket in the washing machine

Can You Put a Windbreaker in the Dryer?

Windbreakers are versatile garments best known for their lightweight design and weather-resistant qualities. These jackets are tough enough to shield us from the elements, but can they handle the heat of a tumble dryer?


Can Windbreakers Go in the Dryer?

windbreaker and tumble dryer

It’s generally not recommended to put a windbreaker in the dryer. This is because tumble drying can damage the fabric and affect its water-resistant or wind-resistant properties.

Here is a closer look at some of the damages that might be caused:

  • Shrinkage or distortion: Most windbreakers are made from synthetic materials that cannot withstand the high heat found in a dryer. The high temperatures may cause shrinking or distortion of the material, meaning your jacket will no longer fit you.
  • Loss of waterproof coating: The high heat in dryers can cause waterproof coatings or laminates to break down. The tumbling action also contributes to the damage—the friction of the windbreaker against the drum can cause the protective coatings to wear away.
  • Damaged cuffs or waistbands: If the windbreaker has components like elastic cuffs or waistbands, excessive heat may affect those elements. The glue used to hold on velcro cuffs or attachments can also melt in the heat, causing the velcro to fall off.
  • Broken zips: Tumble dryers can potentially damage the zips on your windbreaker. The tumbling action and the heat in the dryer may cause zippers to hit against the drum or other items. This can result in bent or damaged zipper teeth, misalignment, or even breakage.

That said, there are exceptions to every rule. Some windbreakers have been designed to be safe for tumble drying.

If this applies to your windbreaker, it will always be specified on the care label—if the label doesn’t say that your coat can go in the dryer, don’t risk it.

Even if your windbreaker is suitable for dryers, it’s often safer to dry a windbreaker using alternative drying methods. Remain cautious and use a low heat setting if you do choose to use the tumble dryer.


How Do You Dry a Windbreaker Jacket?

windbreaker hanging

To protect the material and coating on your windbreaker, you generally shouldn’t use heat when drying them.

And this doesn’t only apply to tumble dryers, you should also avoid using heated clothes airers, radiators, or hair dryers to dry clothes.

These heat sources aren’t enough to cause shrinkage, but they can damage the waterproof coating.

So, how can you dry a windbreaker jacket? Here’s a step-by-step guide, ensuring your windbreaker maintains its water-resistant and wind-resistant properties:

1. Remove excess water

As you cannot use heat when drying windproof jackets, we recommend removing as much excess water as possible to speed up the drying process.

If you’ve machine-washed your windbreaker, the spin cycle would have done this job for you. However, if hand washing, you need to do it yourself.

When removing excess water, it’s crucial to be gentle to avoid damage. Rather than twisting the jacket to wring out water, follow these steps:

  1. Lay a clean towel down on a flat surface like a table.
  2. Place the wet windbreaker on top of the towel.
  3. Slowly roll the windbreaker up in the towel from the bottom.
  4. Gently squeeze the towel as you roll to soak up the water.
  5. Continue until you have squeezed the excess water from the jacket.


2. Lay or hang to dry

With the excess water removed, you have two options for drying your windbreaker:

  • Option 1 – Lay flat to dry: Remove the wet towel (if removing the excess water by hand) and lay a clean, dry towel down on a flat surface. Lay the windbreaker flat on top of the towel. The towel will help to absorb the remaining moisture and speed up the drying process.
  • Option 2 – Hang to air dry: Your second option is to hand the jacket up to dry. You can either hang it outside on a washing line or inside on a clothes airer. Consider hanging the windbreaker on a padded hanger to help it maintain its shape.

Regardless of which option you use, be sure to keep your windbreaker away from radiators, direct sunlight, heated airers, and other heat sources.

Although it will take longer for your coat to dry, this helps to protect the waterproof coating and windproof qualities.


How Do You Dry a Windbreaker in the Dryer?

empty pockets before washing clothes

If, and only if, your windbreaker is labelled safe for machine drying, you can put it in your tumble dryer. However, you must still follow a few best practices to ensure you don’t cause damage.

Here are our suggestions for safely tumble-drying your windbreaker jacket:

  • Empty pockets and secure zips: Empty all pockets to prevent any items from getting damaged or causing imbalances during drying. Secure all zips to prevent them from snagging or damaging the fabric.
  • Close Velcro straps: If your windproof jacket has Velcro straps or cuffs, close them to prevent them from catching on other items during the drying process. This also helps to stop the velcro itself from becoming damaged.
  • Turn your windbreaker inside out: Turning the windbreaker inside out before drying can help protect the outer fabric and any printed or reflective elements. It also helps to protect the jacket coatings from potential damage.
  • Use a mesh laundry bag: Placing the jacket inside a mesh laundry bag can provide additional protection during machine drying. This is especially helpful for preventing zips from coming into direct contact with the drum.
  • Monitor the drying process: Monitor the jacket as it dries to monitor its progress. Remove the coat promptly when it is dry, or consider finishing the drying process by hanging it up to air-dry for a short period to prevent over-drying.


How Do You Wash a Windbreaker?

handwash windbreaker

Drying your windbreaker properly can only get you so far in caring for your jacket. You must also wash your windbreaker using the proper methods to prevent shrinking, protect the waterproof coatings, and avoid damaging the components.

We have an entire article dedicated to washing windbreakers, but here are the key points you need to know:

  • Most windbreakers are not suitable for machine washing. As with tumble drying, the heat and motion of the machine drum can damage the synthetic materials and protective coatings. Hand washing is usually the preferred option.
  • Before hand washing your windbreaker, ensure you remove everything from the pockets, fasten all zips and velcro, and turn the jacket inside out. If the hood or any other parts are removable, take these off before you start washing.
  • Wash your windbreaker by hand using a small amount of hand-washing detergent and water. Let the coat soak in the solution for a few minutes, and knead softly with your hands. Rinse with water when done to remove all the soap from the material.

jacket in the washing machine drum

If the care label says your windbreaker is safe for the washing machine, you’re in luck. Simply check the pockets, fasten the zips, turn it inside out, and throw it in the washing machine.

When machine washing, always set your washer on a gentle cycle that uses cold water and a slow spin speed (or even better, skip the spin cycle entirely). You’ll also want to use a gentle detergent to preserve the water-resistant coating.

Once the cycle is complete, use our above drying method for top results without damage.