What is the meaning of “no tumble dry”?
When a garment’s care label says “do not tumble dry”, it means that the garment should not be dried in a dryer since it uses hot air and a rotating drum to remove moisture. Rather, you should use other means to dry it such as hanging or air drying.
Let’s admit it, we’ve all been there; you buy a new piece of garment, and the care label indicates to you not to tumble dry it.
But what does “do not tumble dry” actually mean, and why is it important to pay attention to this instruction if at all?
Tumble drying can damage or shrink some fabrics such as silk, knitwear, and wool due to heat and friction and hence isn’t suitable for every type of fabric.
In this article, we’ll explain in detail why some clothes shouldn’t be tumble dried, and what you can do instead to ensure you don’t end up ruining your new garment.
Table of Contents
What is tumble dry
It’s important to know what the meaning of tumble dry is so it becomes even easier to understand the meaning of do not tumble dry.
Tumble drying is the drying of clothes using a machine dryer that rotates a drum while blowing hot air through the clothes to remove moisture.
The tumble-drying process is faster than air-drying and is commonly used for convenience and to save time.
However, not all fabrics can withstand the heat and friction generated during tumble drying, which can lead to damage, shrinkage, or pilling.
As a result, many clothing manufacturers include care instructions on the garment’s label that specifically advise against tumble drying, to help protect the garment and ensure its longevity.
Do not Tumble dry meaning
Now that you know what tumble dry means it’s safe to say that you understand when your clothes care label says do not tumble dry.
In clear and simple terms, do not tumble dry clothes care label means that you should not dry the garment in a clothes or tumble dryer since the fabric will not be able to withstand the heat and friction that is used in tumble dryers.
No tumble dry symbol
So what is the symbol for do not dry?
The “no tumble dry” symbol is a pictogram that is commonly used on clothing care labels to indicate that the garment should not be tumble dried.
The symbol consists of a square with a circle inside and a cross through the middle. It is important to recognize this symbol, as it is an easy way to identify clothing that should not be tumble dried, without having to read the care label in detail.
It is important to always follow the care instructions on the label of your clothing to prevent damage and ensure the longevity of your garment.
How can I tell if something can be tumble dried or not?
As we mentioned earlier in this article, when it comes to caring for your clothes, it’s important to always follow the care labels and that includes whether or not they can be tumble dried.
If a garment is not suitable for tumble drying and you ignore the care label, it can shrink, fade, or become damaged, which can be costly and frustrating.
Here are some smart ways to determine whether or not a garment can be tumble dried:
- Check the care label: The care label on the garment should have specific instructions on how to care for the item, including whether or not it can be tumble dried. Look for the “no tumble dry” symbol, which is a pictogram of a circle with a cross through it, or specific instructions such as “lay flat to dry” or “hang dry”.
- Check the fabric type: Certain fabrics, such as wool, silk, and some synthetic blends, are more delicate and cannot withstand the heat and friction of a tumble dryer.
- Check the garment type: Some garments, such as those with embellishments or delicate details like lace or beading, are not suitable for tumble drying. In addition, some garments with linings or multiple layers may take a long time to dry in a tumble dryer, which can cause damage or shrinkage.
- Consider the age and condition of the garment: Older garments or those that are already worn or stretched may be more prone to damage or shrinkage in a tumble dryer. Consider air-drying the garment or using a low-heat setting in the dryer.
How to dry do not tumble dry clothes
When the care label on your garment says do not tumble dry, does that mean you cannot dry your clothes? Obviously not.
You’re probably wondering how to dry no tumble dry clothes.
Luckily, there are several alternative ways to dry clothes that are not suitable for tumble drying.
Below are 4 ways to dry clothes that say no tumble dry:
- Air-dry: One of the simplest ways to dry no tumble dry clothes is by air-drying. Hang the clothes on a drying rack, clothesline, or hanger, and let them dry naturally. This method is gentle on clothes and doesn’t involve any heat or friction that can damage delicate fabrics.
- Lay flat to dry: Some garments, such as sweaters, should be laid flat to dry to prevent stretching and distortion. Lay the garment flat on a towel or drying rack, reshape it to its original size, and let it air-dry.
- Use a fan: If you need to speed up the drying process, you can use a fan to circulate air around the clothes. This method is particularly useful for heavier fabrics that take longer to dry.
- Blot excess moisture with a towel: For clothes that are only slightly damp, you can blot the excess moisture with a towel before air drying. Lay the garment flat on a towel, roll it up gently, and press down to absorb moisture.
Note: The drying time may vary depending on the fabric type and thickness of the garment. In general, it’s best to air-dry clothes in a well-ventilated area away from direct sunlight to prevent fading and damage.
What happens if I tumble dry something that says “Do not tumble dry”?
If you tumble dry something that says “Do not tumble dry,” there are several possible outcomes, and as you can guess, none of them are desirable.
The most common consequences are shrinkage, damage to the fabric, and fading of colors.
Here are some specific things that can happen:
- Shrinkage: The heat and agitation of a tumble dryer can cause natural fibers like cotton and wool to shrink, which can cause the garment to become misshapen and no longer fit properly. Even synthetic fibers like polyester and nylon can shrink if exposed to high heat.
- Fabric damage: A tumble dryer’s heat and friction can damage delicate fabrics like silk, rayon, and lace, causing them to lose their texture, shape, and sheen. In addition, other embellishments can become damaged or fall off in a tumble dryer.
- Color fading: High heat can cause colors to fade, particularly on darker fabrics like jeans, black t-shirts, and navy sweaters. This can make the garment look worn and faded before its time.
- Reduced durability: Even if a garment doesn’t shrink or become damaged in the dryer, it may become less durable over time due to the wear and tear from heat and friction.
Tumble drying something that says “Do not tumble dry” can cause irreversible damage to the garment, which you would not smile about. It’s always best to follow the care instructions on the garment’s label to ensure that it lasts as long as possible and looks its best.
What clothes should not be tumble dried?
The table below shows items that you should normally not tumble dry unless otherwise indicated on the care label.
|Can shrink and lose shape
|Delicate and easily damaged
|Delicate and easily damaged
|Can melt or become damaged
|Can lose elasticity
|Can become damaged
|Down-filled items (e.g. jackets, comforters)
|Can clump and lose loft
|Clothes with embellishments
|Embellishments can become damaged or fall off
|Can damage cushioning and lose shape
|Can become misshapen or lose elasticity
|Can become misshapen
|Tights and pantyhose
|Can shrink or become misshapen
|Embellishments can become damaged or fall off
|Can lose shape or shrink
|Filling can clump and make them lumpy
|Can be delicate and shrink
Frequently Asked Questions about “Do Not Tumble Dry”
Does no tumble dry mean to air dry?
While “no tumble dry” typically means that the item should not be put in a tumble dryer, it does not necessarily mean that the item should be air dried.
The specific instructions for drying the item will depend on the care label instructions and the type of item being dried. Some items may require air drying, while others may be able to be dried in a different way, such as hanging or laying flat to dry.
Can you iron no tumble dry clothes?
Yes, you can typically iron clothes that are labeled as “no tumble dry”. However, it’s important to check the care label on the item to confirm that it is safe to iron.
Some delicate fabrics or garments with embellishments may not be safe to iron and may require special care.
To avoid damaging a wet “do not tumble dry” garment, it’s important to place the item on an ironing board and cover it with a dry towel. Set the iron temperature to high and iron the towel as usual, which will help to dry the clothing while protecting it from direct contact with the iron.
Can I tumble dry something on low heat if it says "Do not tumble dry on high heat"?
If an item’s care label indicates “Do not tumble dry on high heat”, it is best to avoid using any heat in the tumble dryer. Even if you select a low heat setting, there is still a risk that the item may shrink or become damaged in the dryer.
Can I hang dry or air dry something that says "Do not tumble dry"?
You can hang dry or air dry an item that says “Do not tumble dry” on the care label. In fact, for many items, air drying is the preferred method of drying, as it can help to prevent shrinkage and damage to delicate fabrics.