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Should you always dry your clothes on high?

Posted Tuesday, November 8th, 2016
man taking clothes out of a dryer

Clothes dry faster on high heat. But is it a good idea?

There’s nothing quite like the simple pleasure of pulling warm, dry clothes from the dryer, especially when it’s chilly outside. A sweatshirt can keep away some of the November chill, and when it’s been tumbling in warm air for an hour, it can warm you to your bones.

While high heat can dry your clothes faster, though, it isn’t always a good idea. It’s energy-inefficient, bad for your clothes, and bad for your dryer. Let’s take a look. 

Boost energy efficiency

Drying clothes on low heat takes more time, so your dryer will have to work harder to get in more tumbles. But to get fewer tumbles, you’ll need a higher heat setting, which takes energy. So is it a wash?

It’s not – drying clothes for longer on a lower heat setting is more efficient. Dryers expend much more energy on heat than on tumbling, so reducing heat will save more energy than reducing tumbling. 

And while you’re looking for ways to save, consider spending about $20 on an energy efficient dryer vent. This will reduce the cold air coming into your house through the vent, reducing the energy – and money – you spend to heat your home in the winter.

Wear and tear on your clothes

You probably spent good money – and good time – when purchasing your clothes, so you want them to last. You’ll reduce wear and tear, and be able to wear them for longer, if you dry them on a lower heat setting.

An adult sweater can morph into a child’s sweater in one high-heat cycle. In addition, high heat settings can cause colors to fade and can weaken fabric, especially spandex. And that’s not just bad your work-out clothes: that extra stretch in your jeans comes from spandex. Fabric that’s been through the dryer on high heat is weaker and more likely to rip, and the risk of ripping only increases with each high-heat cycle.

Increased risk of dryer fires

The last thing you want in your laundry room is a fire. Fires can destroy your clothes and your dryer, and if they aren’t caught quickly, they can destroy your home and endanger the people who live there. 

Routinely drying clothes on high heat increases your chances of a dryer fire. Why? We already know that high heat causes clothes to wear out faster. That wear and tear looks like tiny particles of fabric – lint – coming off your clothes. The beating your clothes take on a high-heat cycle inevitably produces more dryer lint.

Why is this important? Because lint is extremely flammable. If your dryer overheats near lint, that’s a recipe for a fire. A couple pieces of lint will burn out quickly, but a large amount of lint can sustain a flame longer – possibly long enough to ignite your favorite shirt, the carpet, or the walls.

Unfortunately (but perhaps predictably), dryers on high heat settings are more likely to overheat.

Low heat solutions

To save money on your electrical bill, keep your clothes in good shape, and reduce your risk of dryer fires, opt for the lower heat setting on your dryer. Your clothes may not be quite as warm when they come out, but they’ll last longer and your home will be safer.

If your dryer has a lint trap, it’s important to clean it out every time you run a cycle. This will reduce the amount of lint in your laundry room, and therefore reduce your risk of fire.

And next time you call Modernistic for an air duct cleaning, add dryer vent cleaning to the itinerary. We’ll clear out any lint that’s caught in the vent, so you can keep your dryer working at higher efficiency and lower risk.

And isn’t that a good combination?

Serving Kentwood, MI for 40 years.

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