You should see the big wad of lint that I just pulled out of my tumble dryer trap. Ack! Where does all this come from? I know I’ve emptied all the pockets and I’m sure I haven’t washed a bag of pillow-stuffing.
I’ll tell you what it is, and I’m not happy with it: it’s visual proof that the dryer is wearing out my clothes. These fibers were neatly woven into these garments just 30 minutes ago. For all the convenience that a clothes dryer can offer, it can come at the cost of having to replace your family’s clothes and linens far too often.
Drying clothes causes them to shrink and not just the first time they are washed. Sleeves and pant legs get shorter and shorter when improperly machine dried.
There are tactics to counter dryer abuse, and you don’t have to go back to the days of stiff frozen sheets on the clothesline. (Does anyone else remember?) You don’t have to tumble dry your clothes to death to end up with comfy jeans and fluffy, soft towels.
Detergent residue in fabrics makes them rough. Add ½ cup of white vinegar to the last rinse. This will help remove residual detergent from the fabrics. Even air dried, they will be softer.
Never completely dry clothes, especially jeans, in the machine. Ten to 15 minutes is enough for most items to remove major wrinkles.
A good collapsible dryer extends the life of clothes while reducing energy. Use it indoors or outdoors if time permits to finish drying items that have been in the dryer for, say, 10 minutes to lint and soften, or for delicate items (lingerie, spandex, painted or screen-printed t-shirts). If this dryer is handy, you might find yourself using it more often than you ever imagined.
Remove partially dry jeans and all other pants from the dryer and hang them on hangers by the hems of hangers equipped with clothespins or clips. The weight of the pants will set the fibers in place and prevent the pants from getting shorter every time you wash them.
Pants stretchers come in pairs, as do pant legs. An adjustable metal frame, these things slip into the legs of bleached pants. Once in place, you can adjust to tighten, straighten, and stretch to dry so they come out wrinkle free and the right shape and size. Check Amazon or go to lehmans.com to verify it.
When you need something to dry quickly, here’s a good tip: place the wet item and a dry bath towel in the dryer. Set the safe to the highest temperature for that particular item. You’ll have dry jams (or whatever) in less than half the time. The towel will absorb much of the moisture.
Any item that has a rubber backing, such as a bath mat, should never come in contact with the inside of a clothes dryer. Lay it flat to air dry.
Fabrics that contain spandex, latex, rubber bands, or have painted or screen printed logos should not withstand the heat of a tumble dryer. Even the elastic of pajamas, underwear, etc., will quickly decompose if dried at high temperature. Always be sure to read labels to determine fabric contents and washing instructions. Get a portable dryer or install a few extra towel racks so you can air dry these more delicate types of fabrics.
This column is an update of a column previously published in 2014. Mary invites you to visit her at Every dayCheapskate.com, where this column is archived with links and resources for all recommended products and services. Mary invites questions and comments to https://www.everydaycheapskate.com/contact/, “Ask Marie.” Tips can be sent to tips.everydaycheapskate.com/. This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually. Mary Hunt is the founder of Every dayCheapskate.com, a frugal living blog, and the author of the book “Debt-Proof Living”.