Steven and Chris Episodes

Dryer Do's and Don'ts

Our resident home guru Sara Lynn Cauchon's got a few reasons for you to rethink how you use your clothes dryer. With her suggestions, your clothes will live longer, you'll save money, and cut energy consumption.

Dryer Maintenance

Everyone loves the convenience of a dryer, but according to The Consumer Energy Center, the dryer can be the second largest electric consuming appliance in your home after the refrigerator. And don't forget that the average cost of operating a dryer is approximately $200 a year (based on one average sized load per day). So if you need to use the dryer to make your life a little easier, make sure you remember a few things:

Clean out the exhaust duct

Clean out the exhaust duct, which runs from the back of the machine to a vent outside, every two years. A build-up of lint inside the duct restricts airflow, leading to longer drying times and wrinkling. It's also another pretty serious fire hazard.

Clean your lint trap

Clean out your lint trap after every load. It reduces the risk of your dryer starting a dangerous fire. According to a report by FEMA, clothes dryer vents can become clogged with lint, causing more than 15,000 house fires every year. Basically, the film left behind can build up causing static that can start a fire. So make sure to clean your lint trap after every load.

Get rid of dryer sheets and fabric softeners

The chemicals (including synthetic fragrances) found in conventional dryer sheets and fabric softeners are similar to what is found in conventional detergents and are dangerous to your health. Fabric softener or dryer sheets also deposit a waxy coating on the lint screen which can prevent air from circulating properly and slow drying when built up.

Use dryer balls, clean tennis balls or wool balls (which also act as a natural fabric softener) instead to speed up drying time. They are also great for helping get water out of big items like cotton shower mats & blankets.

Things You Should Never (Ever!) Put in the Dryer

Dryers are very convenient and can be a great time saver, but Sara has three items she says you should never put in them.

1. Wool sweaters: The dryer will break down wool fibers and shrink the item.

2. Silk: Silk should never be run through the dryer because doing so will cause the material to lose its smooth texture, ruining the item.

3. Bras and Underwear: Most bras have an underwire that the dryer will deform and tear out, while cups to lose their shape over time. Bras should always be hand washed and carefully hung to dry. And underwear will lose its elasticity if put in the dryer causing it to look tatty plus any elastic will warp in the heat of a dryer. So unless you're 12 with a cotton bra or wearing 'granny panties' don't put it them in the dryer.

Line Drying

Sara believes in line drying. In fact, she line dries everything year round. Don't forget that the dryer shortens the life of your clothing by over-drying items and thinning them out. Your wardrobe is literally wearing away after each load is done and the evidence is in your lint trap. So taking that little bit of extra time to hang up your clothing will not only help the environment, it will also help your clothes last longer.

Summer Tip

Hang clothes outside; this will help your natural fibers breathe, will keep your clothes smelling great, and will cut down your drying time.

*Note: Don't forget that putting bright colors in the sun can fade them out, so don't leave them out too long!

Winter Tip

An indoor drying rack during the winter doubles as a humidifier so you can breathe better. The moisture from the clothes enters the air and nourishes your skin.

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