7 Surprisingly Common Mistakes You’re Probably Making With Your Dryer

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Dryers are wonderful machines. Not only do they, well, dry your garments, when used correctly, they can keep your clothes crisp-looking and wrinkle-free.

However, if you're not using your dryer properly, you can create a whole slew of laundry problems you might not even realize you have. From oversized loads to not cleaning your lint screen, read ahead for seven surprisingly common mistakes you might be making with your dryer — and what to do instead.

1. You’re not prepping your clothes properly.

If you tend to throw your clothes straight in the dryer after washing them, then you're doing yourself a disservice. Take a moment to double-check pockets for pens, lip glosses, and other items that might melt or leak, and zip up any zippers so the exposed teeth can't snag your stuff.

2. You’re not sorting your clothes.

Believe it or not, sorting your clothes before drying them is every bit as important as it is when washing them. After you remove your laundry from the washing machine, divide your loads by the drying cycle they need (high-heat, permanent press, etc.). Also, take care to separate delicate garments, like sweaters and lingerie, from ones made of coarse materials, to bypass any rubbing and pilling.

3. You’re overfilling your dryer.

Overstuffing your dryer with wet laundry isn't saving you any time in the long run. Not only do clothes need room to circulate in a dryer to remove wrinkles and creases, an overfilled dryer can't distribute heat evenly — so you'll likely wind up having to redry denser items. As a rule of thumb, never fill the dryer more than three-quarters full to ensure all of your laundry dries properly.

4. You’re using too many dryer sheets.

Sure, dryer sheets are great for softening your laundry and reducing static cling, but more than one per load is no bueno. Too many dryer sheets can get jammed in your dryer vents and cause your whole drying machine to slow down — so stick with one sheet per load and make sure to throw the used one away once the cycle is complete.

5. You’re not really cleaning your lint screen.

Unfortunately, quickly clearing the debris off your dryer's lint screen between each use isn't always enough. After repeated use, dryer sheets create a chemical coating that can build up on your lint screens and make them less effective, so make sure to hand-wash your lint screen with soapy water and a soft sponge at least once a month (or more if you do lots of laundry).

6. You’re neglecting your dryer vent.

The venting tube — which runs from the back of your dryer to the outside — is what allows heat from your dryer to escape. However, since it has a tendency to get hot, a venting tube packed with too much lint and random debris can pose a major risk for fires. Inspect your dryer's venting tube at least once or twice a year for blockage to avoid any safety issues.

7. You’re placing your dryer on uneven ground.

Dryers are designed to be used on level ground — so if one is set even slightly off kilter it might not function properly. Grab the nearest level and double check that your dryer is sitting perfectly flat on the floor to ensure that you're using it correctly.


Caroline Biggs is a writer living in New York City. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, Apartment Therapy, Refinery 29, and more.

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