You should see the big wad of lint I just plucked from the trap of my clothes dryer. Ack! Where does all of that come from? I know I emptied all pockets and I’m certain I did not wash a bag of pillow stuffing.
I’ll tell you what it is, and I am not happy about this: It’s visual proof the dryer is wearing out my clothes. Those fibers were neatly woven into these clothes only 30 minutes ago. For all the convenience a clothes dryer can offer, it may come at the price of having to replace your family’s clothes and household linens much too often.
Drying clothes causes them the shrink and not only the first time they’re washed. Sleeves and pant legs continually get shorter and shorter when machine-dried improperly.
There are tactics to counteract the abuse suffered by a clothes dryer, and you don’t have to go back to the days of sheets frozen stiff on the clothesline. (Does anyone else remember that?) You don’t have to machine-dry your clothes to death to end up with comfy jeans and fluffy, soft towels.
GET THE SOAP OUT
Residual detergent in fabrics causes them to feel rough. Add 1/2 cup white vinegar to the last rinse. This will help remove the residual detergent from the fabrics. Even when air-dried, they will be softer.
Never machine-dry clothes, especially jeans, completely. Ten to 15 minutes is sufficient for most items to remove the major wrinkles.
RACK ‘EM UP
A good collapsible drying rack goes a long way to extend the life of clothes while reducing energy. Use it indoors or out as weather permits to either finish drying items that have gone into the dryer for, say, 10 minutes to fluff and soften, or for delicates (lingerie, spandex, painted or silk-screen tees). If that drying rack is handy, you just might find yourself using it more often than you’d ever imagined.
HANG FROM THE ANKLES
Remove partially dry jeans and all other pants from the dryer and hang them on hangers by the hems on pant hangers equipped with clothespins or clamps. The weight of the pants will pull the fibers into place and keep the pants from getting shorter every time you launder them.
OR USE A PANTS STRETCHER
Pants stretchers come in pairs just like pant legs. An adjustable metal frame, these things slip into the legs of laundered pants. Once in place, you can adjust to tighten, straighten and stretch to dry so they come out free of wrinkles and the right shape and size. Check Amazon or go to lehmans.com to check it out.
EMERGENCY SPEED DRY
When you need something to dry in a big hurry, here’s a great tip: Place the wet item and one dry bath towel into the dryer. Set on the highest temperature safe for that particular item. You will have dry jammies (or whatever else) in less than half the time. The towel will absorb a great deal of the moisture.
STEP AWAY FROM THE DRYER
Any item that has a rubber backing, such as a bath rug, should never come in contact with the inside of a dryer. Lay it flat to air-dry.
DON’T KILL THE SPANDEX
Fabrics that contain spandex, latex, elastic or have painted or silk-screened logos should not meet the heat of a clothes dryer. Even the elastic in pajamas, underwear and so on will break down quickly if dried on “high.” Make sure you always read the labels to determine fabric content and laundering instructions. Get a portable drying rack or install a few extra towel bars so you can air-dry these more delicate types of fabric.
Mary invites you to visit her at EverydayCheapskate.com, where this column is archived complete with links and resources for all recommended products and services. Mary invites questions and comments at https://www.everydaycheapskate.com/contact/, ”Ask Mary.” Tips can be submitted at tips.everydaycheapskate.com/. This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually. Mary Hunt is the founder of EverydayCheapskate.com, a frugal living blog, and the author of the book “Debt-Proof Living.”