How to dry unconventional fabrics and items

It's tempting to want to throw everything in the dryer, but certain fabrics and items should be handled with more care.

Taylor Martin CNET Contributor
Taylor Martin has covered technology online for over six years. He has reviewed smartphones for Pocketnow and Android Authority and loves building stuff on his YouTube channel, MOD. He has a dangerous obsession with coffee and is afraid of free time.
Taylor Martin
4 min read

Not everything can or should be thrown in the dryer.

It's easy to throw anything in the dryer to dry, fluff or even prep for ironing. But often, the wrong dryer setting -- or machine-drying a garment at all -- can damage your clothing.

Learn how to deal with those unconventional garments or fabrics and whether they can be tossed in the dryer.

Cotton or wool sweaters

Depending on the fabric, washing instructions will vary from sweater to sweater. Drying, on the other hand, is much more straightforward for practically all types of sweaters.

Hanging a wet sweater of any type will typically stretch it out and distort the shoulders with hanger marks. Drying in a clothes dryer -- at any heat -- will almost certainly shrink a sweater.

After hand or machine washing, most types of sweaters (angora, cotton, silk and wool) should be be laid out flat to dry. The exception are sweaters made of acrylic, which can typically be tumble dried on low heat.


Most cashmere sweaters are explicitly hand wash only, though some are safe to throw in a delicate cycle in a washing machine. It's best to check the tag for specifics.

Drying cashmere is a bit different from other sweaters, however. To dry cashmere, J.Crew and The Laundress suggest spreading the garment out on a dry towel and rolling up the towel with the garment inside. This helps remove excess water. Next, lay out the cashmere garment in its natural shape on a drying rack or a clean towel.


Down quilts, duvets and jackets are a fantastic way to keep warm in the winter. Keeping down garments and blankets clean or cleaning them after a spill, however, can mean a costly trip to the cleaners if you don't know how to properly wash and dry down items at home.

Believe it or not, most down items can simply be tossed in a front-loading washing machine. If you have a large down blanket, it may need to be washed at the laundromat in a heavy duty washer, as down tends to get very heavy when it's wet.

Drying, on the other hand, can be a little more tricky, especially for larger items like blankets. You want to dry down on a low heat setting, and you will need dryer balls, tennis balls or aluminum foil balls to help keep the down fluffed and separated while it tumbles.

It can take several times longer to dry down compared to normal garments or blankets -- upwards of three or four hours for some items, depending on their size. Every half hour or so, stop the dryer and manually fluff the item, making sure to break up any clumps in the down.

For large down blankets or duvets, you may want to dry them in a dryer for a few hours then let them hang dry outside in direct sunlight and with plenty of air circulation to ensure the down dries as quickly as possible.


Tossing bras in the dryer is bad for both the lifespan of the bra and the dryer itself. The underwire, straps and clasps are subject to getting caught in the nooks and crannies of the dryer.

Cosmopolitan suggests hang drying bras or laying them flat to dry. If you choose to hang dry, hang it by the center gore (the fabric which connects the two cups) instead of by the straps, which have the tendency to stretch out due to the weight of the wet cups.

Another tip offered by Cosmopolitan is to rinse your bra in the shower rather than laundering it as frequently. It says this will "wick away body oils and skin buildup," which can increase the lifespan of your bra.

Clothes with sequins

Clothes with sequins should never be put in the dryer. Ever. The sequins are susceptible to snagging on parts in the dryer drum, and certain types of sequins can actually melt due to the higher temperatures in a dryer.

If it is a knit garment with sequins, lay it flat to dry. Otherwise, it can be hung on a hanger or on a drying rack.


Tennis shoes are fine to throw in a wash cycle, and they're actually fine to put in the dryer, as well. Some dryers have a dedicated and removable shoe rack accessory that can be purchased separately.

You can also toss shoes in the dryer without the rack, but they cause a ton of noise. A reddit user by the name null_value, however, has a quick fix for this. Leave the laces in the shoes and pull them over the door as you close it. This will lock the shoes in place against the door and keep them from tumbling around and making a bunch of noise

People have gotten rather innovative with ways to dry shoes quickly, as well. The method I have always used is removing the laces, folding out the tongues and placing the shoes, top-down over air vents in the floor. Placing shoes -- soles up -- on a radiator can also dry them overnight. And stuffing newspaper inside shoes will wick the moisture out of the fabric inside the shoe, drying them over the course of several hours.