HomeLaundryCan You Put Soaking Wet Clothes in the Dryer? 

Can You Put Soaking Wet Clothes in the Dryer? 

Sometimes you open your washing machine and find that the clothes inside are soaking wet. This is more likely to happen when you wash small loads and use low spin cycles on sensitive items. If you don’t have time to run an extra spin cycle, or if the nature of the clothing prevents you to, do you just throw these items into the dryer soaking wet? 

If you’ve washed an item by hand and are afraid to wring it out lest you damage it, you may also be wondering: can you put this soaking wet item in the dryer, at least for a short cycle? 

Can You Put Soaking Wet Clothes in the Dryer? 

You should avoid putting soaking wet clothes in the dryer, as it can not only damage it, but the clothes may not even dry fully and will likely come out stiff and perhaps even smelling musty. 

You should always aim to wring out most of the water from your clothes before placing them in the dryer. If your item is particularly fragile, you can lie it on a flat surface to dry (and you probably wouldn’t throw it in the dryer anyway). 

Soaking wet clothing will make the load heavier. You will end up with semi-wet clothes coming out of the dryer stiff and crinkly. It may be accompanied by the musty smell of wet clothes too. If water leaks out of the drum to other parts of the dryer, it can damage it and even cause a fire. Plus, your energy bills will go up, as your dryer uses extra power to deal with the extra work. 

What Will Happen if You Place Soaking Wet Clothes in the Dryer?

This is what could happen if you were to place a soaking wet load of laundry in the dryer:

Some Items May Not Even Dry 

The first issue with trying to dry soaking wet clothing in the dryer is that most items will likely not even dry completely. 

First, your dryer will need extra time and energy to dry soaking items. If you want your clothes to come out after the usual amount of time, you will be disappointed. 

As the load is significantly heavier than usual, you can’t expect an even drying effect either. There will be more creases, wet patches are practically guaranteed, and you may end up overdrying certain items while others remain moist. 

Your clothes can also smell after tumble drying if you choose to dry a soaking wet load. You will then need to remove the musty smell from your clothing, so your items still won’t be ready for wear. 

Your Clothes May Come Out Stiff

If your clothes have come out of the washer soaking wet, chances are the detergent and fabric softener have not been rinsed out properly. If you place them in the dryer like that, they will come out stiff, as the product on them will harden.  

The Load Will Be Heavier  

A pile of soaking wet clothing is much heavier than a pile of wrung out clothes. When you place a heavy load in the dryer, it will put a strain on its bearings. 

The heavy load will, as you already know, not come out evenly dry, and it can damage your dryer too. 

You Might Damage the Dryer Drum 

The heavy, soaking load will be much heavier than usual and will put a strain on your dryer’s bearings and belt. The drying cycle will be loud and there will be extra vibrations, which can shock your drum out of alignment, or even bring the entire appliance crashing down, if you’ve placed it on top of the washer. 

Your Energy Bill Will Go Up 

Dryers consume a lot of energy as is. Any appliance that produces heat requires a lot of electricity to run. 

When you add a heavy, wet load to your dryer, it will need to spend both more time and more energy to dry it. This will quickly turn into a very expensive energy bill you probably weren’t expecting when you decided to dry that soaking pile of clothing. 

Water Might Leak Into the Rest of the Drier 

Dryer drums are not technically meant to be waterproof. They were not built to contain soaking wet items. While they can handle the moisture that comes with drying, actual puddles and pools of water have no place in a dryer drum.

If the water leaks out of the drum, it can damage the wiring of your appliance, causing anything from a short circuit to a fire. Depending on how much water finds its way to where it shouldn’t, you can expect your dryer to break down immediately, or to have a much shorter lifespan than expected. 

You Are Playing With Fire 

Apart from the water leaking out of the drum and causing a potentially hazardous short circuit, you can actually cause a fire another way when you put soaking wet clothes in the dryer. 

Soaking wet items contain a lot of lint. If it gets into your dryer, it will over time block its vents. As the airflow is compromised, heat distribution in the appliance will be thrown off balance, and the excess heat in the vents and drum can ignite the lint. The flames will quickly spread to the rest of the machine and your home. 

What To Do Instead of Putting Soaking Wet Clothes in the Dryer 

If you have a pile of soaking wet clothes on your hands, don’t put it in the dryer and hope for the best. Do this instead:

Wring Out Your Clothes 

Your first order of business is to wring the items out. You can do this by running an extra spin cycle on your washer (mindful of the care symbols on your clothes) or by wringing them out by hand. 

The more water you are able to get rid of, the better. You don’t have to be too forceful, as simply pressing the water out will do the trick too. 

Check Your Washer 

You then want to discover why your washer has left you with soaking wet clothes in the first place. If you’ve washed a very light load on a low spin, it may just not be able to wring all the water out. If you usually get a pretty decent result on the same settings, your machine may just have hiccuped this one time.

Check to see that the water is draining out properly and that no drains are blocked. Keep an eye out and see what happens when you next wash your clothes. If they keep coming out soaked, you need to call a repairman in to check what is going wrong. 

If your clothes routinely smell after washing, have the appliance checked out, even if the items are not soaked: there is probably a buildup of mildew or mould somewhere. 

Check Your Dryer 

If you have ever placed a soaking wet pile into your dryer (and even if you haven’t), check it over too. Remove all the lint from the vents and the lint trap, give it a nice wipe, and make sure it’s working as it should. 

What Happens If Water Gets In Your Dryer

If water gets in your dryer, it can cause rust and mould, but it can also damage the electronics of the appliance and even cause a fire.

When water pools around metal, it will over time lead to rust. If there is excess moisture in any part of your dryer that you can’t get to and clean, you may be faced with a buildup of mould that can both damage your machine and make your clothes smell bad. 

The longer the problem persists, the higher the chances your dryer will break down sooner rather than later. 

How to Dry Soaking Wet Clothes

If your clothes have come out of the washer soaking wet, there are a couple of things you can do:

  • Run an extra spin cycle: if your clothing allows it, you can run an extra cycle and spin the water out. Sometimes washers don’t do a good job the first time around, but can take care of business when you re-run a stronger spin cycle. 
  • Hand-wring your clothes: if the items are delicate, you can wring them out by hand. Be gentle and squeeze the excess water out slowly. You don’t need to twist or roll them up, just apply pressure to different areas. 
  • Roll them into a towel: use a large dry towel to soak up the extra water from your clothes. Just roll individual pieces of clothing into the towel like a burrito and squeeze. 
  • Hang them out to dry: you can also hang your items on a clothesline and allow most of the water to drip out. Place delicate items that are prone to losing their shape on a flat surface (and place a towel underneath), and let them air dry for a couple of hours. You can finish the drying process in the dryer later. 

Wrapping It Up 

Don’t place soaking wet clothing in the dryer, as not only will your energy bill skyrocket, you may also end up with semi-dry, stiff and smelly items. 


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