“Low Heat Dry” The most widely used (and accepted) phrase on all fabric care labels. But why?
It all goes back to our original discussion of “averages”. Every manufacturer has to be careful when giving instructions because they could potentially be at fault for damaged goods. And when advising in a careful manner, they base their guidance on average dryer performance.
Here are some important facts about average dryer performance:
- Commercial drying machines average 150°F per cycle.
- The hottest a commercial dryer usually gets is 160°F
- This temperature is found by collecting the heat output from the exhaust of a dryer.
- Dryers are either gas or electric.
- You can’t always blame the dryer for damaged, static, or odors in your fabric…it could be what you’re doing that’s causing all the problems!
Starting from the top, let’s review why temperature is so important. The goal here is to dry your clothing/fabrics just enough so that they’re dry (and near sterility) and don’t end up with too much static. Static is not only a pain for you and your emotional well-being, but it’s harmful to fabric because that means that there is friction between the fabrics in the load and are being worn down.
To prevent over-drying at high temperatures and static-cling, you need to become very familiar with Dryer Cycles and Temperatures. Here’s a list for those of you who use a Commercial (Household) Dryer:
- Regular: sturdy cottons and those labeled “Tumble Dry”
- Medium: permanent press, synthetics, lightweight cottons, or those labeled “Tumble Dry Medium”
- Delicate: for heat sensitive items labeled “Tumble Dry Low” or “Warm”
- Air fluff: tumbles without heat. Used for sensitive loads or items that simply need fresheni
- **If you’re really spoiled and you have something called “IntelliDry” on your machine, you can let the dryer do the work. “IntelliDry” automatically senses the moisture in the load and shuts off when the selected dryness level is achieved. This is generally designed for towels, underwear, t-shirts, and jeans.
- We do NOT recommend this for Wicked Sheets, because they go from wet to dry so quickly that it confuses the machine and they still tend to be over dried, which causes static.
If you do tend to experience these so-called “long drying times”, don’t panic. There’s probably nothing wrong with your dryer. Drying time depends on many different variables, including size of load, fabric thickness, fiber content, etc. Maytag estimates that 6 bath towels should dry in their dryer in about 40-50 minutes (including a brief cool-down), whereas a 12-piece permanent press load with slacks, shirts, shorts, dresses, etc., will dry in 30-40 minutes (with a brief cool-down). So once again, we discover, size really does matter! 😉
If your dryer is consistently running longer than expected and you feel as though your fabrics have been over dried, here are a few possible culprits:
- Lint Filter: check and clean this every load to prevent buildup and blockage.
- Dryer Exhaust Duct: if possible, use a 4-inch diameter rigid aluminum or rigid galvanized steel duct.
- Overloading or Underloading: uneven loads can cause improper tumbling.
- Mixing loads: avoid heaving, hard-to-dry items missed in with light-weight or sensitive items.
Lastly, I’d like to share something interesting that I found for the first time (ever) while researching proper drying techniques. Since I am the sweaty one in the family, I am always concerned about my fabrics having an odor. In my later blogs, I will discuss how to remove odors caused by sweat, but for purposes of this particular blog on drying, it’s important to know that your DRYER can actually be the cause of odor on fabric. Here’s what I found:
As air is pulled in from the bottom of the dryer, odors can be pulled in and pushed out onto the clothes. For example, if your cat’s litter box is near the dryer, those odors can (and will) be pulled into the dryer. The same goes with fresh paint around the base of the dryer; if those areas hold heavy odors, your clothing and fabric may get that same smell as it goes through the drying cycle. Don’t think that that’s the culprit; check the tumbler and the exhaust dust to make sure that they don’t have anything odorous inside.
And this concludes my three-part blog series on Care Instructions for fabrics and bedding. I hope you’ve learned how to properly care for your fabrics, as well as extended the life of your clothing, towels, and most importantly…bed sheets!
Happy “Low Heat Drying”, friends! – A