What is the best way to express dry a single item?
February 19, 2014 9:55 AM   Subscribe

You're enjoying your morning coffee when you realize you never put your work pants in the dryer last night. What do you do, hot shot? What do you do?

Putting aside the obvious--that we should all plan better and use energy more responsibly--we sometimes run into situations where we really need a single article of clothing dry as soon as physically possible. What's the best way to accomplish this? Assume, for the purposes of this question that the item is preshrunk and durable.

Theories on the table:
-toss it in the dryer alone; more heat for less items = faster dry time
-toss it in the dryer with several other items; more heat per item than a full load, but with better tumbling action thanks to other items
-toss it in the dryer with a large, dry bath towel; similar to the above, but the dry towel itself can wick away moisture

Is one of these best? Something else entirely?

Please provide some combination of the following:
-citations, if possible
-a cogent explanation of the logic behind your theory
-your most convincing anecdata

Thanks in advance.
posted by DirtyOldTown to Home & Garden (22 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
-toss it in the dryer alone; more heat for less items = faster dry time
on High.
posted by theora55 at 9:57 AM on February 19, 2014 [3 favorites]

You want me to just do the things you said, and see which dries fastest?
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 9:57 AM on February 19, 2014 [5 favorites]

Here's a site. Remove the towel after 15 minutes.

Why can you just spray dirty pants with Febreeze or Pledge and go about your business?
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 10:00 AM on February 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

My mom always said to throw a towel in with small loads so that they tumble better and nothing get's stuck.
posted by radioamy at 10:00 AM on February 19, 2014 [2 favorites]

Toss in dryer with large dry bath towel.

-a cogent explanation of the logic behind your theory

That's how my mom told me to do it when I moved out. That is how I do it.

-your most convincing anecdata

It's worked well enough for me in the past - and at the end you have a nice warm fluffy towel for the laundry table. The cats have always seemed appreciative.
posted by kythuen at 10:06 AM on February 19, 2014 [5 favorites]

Response by poster: Our own household experiments have been hampered (no pun intended) by our dryer's automatic moisture sensor. In theory, you're supposed to be able to use "automatic dry" and it will stop when the load is dry. In reality, on mostly empty loads, it generally stops too early while the lone item or handful of items is still somewhat damp. So, we generally end up trying to express dry things on timed dry, but that means checking over and over to see when it's done, and that kind of skews your results.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 10:06 AM on February 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

One wet item + dry clean towel = optimum dry time.
posted by readery at 10:06 AM on February 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

When I need something dry VERY VERY FAST, I do the following:

- Hand-wring it as dry as possible.

- Roll it up in a clean dry towel as tightly as possible, apply pressure to roll. Unroll it, roll it up AGAIN on the OTHER (dry-er) side of the clean dry towel, apply pressure to roll.

- Lay ANOTHER clean dry towel on the ironing board, put garment on top of Clean Dry Towel #2, iron on hottest possible setting until nice 'n dry.

I have gotten much-needed clothing items (ahem "This is Not a Fugazi Shirt" ahem) bone-dry in under 10 minutes this way. WARNING: you should obviously only do this to durable clothing.
posted by julthumbscrew at 10:06 AM on February 19, 2014 [11 favorites]

Iron it!

Anecdata: upon awaking from a very sad 4hrs of sleep in an airport hotel after losing my bags on a cancelled connection on the way to my grandfather's funeral, my socks, t-shirt and undies hadn't fully drip dried after being sink washed with those pathetic packets of detergent they give you, along with an industrial toothbrush, tooth paste and hair comb as a consolation prize to your luggage.

Anyhow, the hotel did have an iron and ironing board, and the items were dried very quickly.
posted by fontophilic at 10:06 AM on February 19, 2014 [4 favorites]

I went to parochial school, so I am uniquely poised to answer this question!

Option 1: put in the dryer with a large absorbent already dry item. Towels are great for this.

Option 2: frantically hand dry with a hair dryer while doing your morning grooming. (especially good if you blow-dry your hair anyway.)

Option 3: set over radiator/heat register while otherwise getting ready for work. (only works if you have this in your house and it's cold enough outside to be a factor.)
posted by Sara C. at 10:08 AM on February 19, 2014

High heat with a towel for a bit, then high heat without the towel. Also ironing can work.

Or calling in sick. Then you can lounge around pantsless all day and perform dryer experiments.
posted by jeather at 10:17 AM on February 19, 2014 [11 favorites]

I'd do none of the above and iron it dry. You can dry a damp pair of pants very quickly using an iron.
posted by Kadin2048 at 10:27 AM on February 19, 2014

10min on hot with a dry towel, and then suck it up and wear it wet (your body heat will dry it out).

Source: I read some magazine article once that said this was the airline stewardess trick.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 10:35 AM on February 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

If there's still enough water in it to render it more on the wet side than the damp side: roll it in a clean dry towel and squeeze the hell out of it (or kneel on it on the floor, that sort of thing.) If it's still drippy, you can run it alone on the spin cycle in your washer first.

Then try any of the suggestions above.
posted by asperity at 10:44 AM on February 19, 2014

My parents have a shitty dryer and the bath towel trick works wonders to bring drying time down -- provided you replace or remove the bath towel part way through the cycle. It helps a little if you keep the towel in the whole time, but not as much as if you pull it or pull it and put another one in.
posted by jacquilynne at 10:56 AM on February 19, 2014

I've used a blow dryer and wet clothes before. It's probably a little more time-consuming and won't allow you to do other things in the meantime, but it should work in a pinch.
posted by LoonyLovegood at 11:37 AM on February 19, 2014

Quickly iron the legs to remove as much water as you can and then throw it in the dryer with a towel. I could easily spend more than ten minutes trying to iron the pockets and waistband area of a pair of pants and if I was pressed for time, I'd be more likely to burn myself, too.
posted by soelo at 12:17 PM on February 19, 2014

Usually what I do in this situation is toss it in the dryer alone as soon as I realize, continue to get ready for work, and take the pants or whatever out of the dryer when I'm ready to get dressed. If it's still wet I'll look for something else.

This also works quite well for pants that are wrinkled and I've forgotten to iron, even if they're dry. Toss them in the dryer alone and the wrinkles come out in a few minutes. I have my mother-in-law to thank for giving me that trick.

On the other hand, clothes dryers use a crapton of electricity (or gas, depending) and this kind of behavior probably contributes somewhat to high electric bills. BUT, I need to do this so infrequently that I don't worry about it.
posted by tckma at 1:04 PM on February 19, 2014

Don't keep stopping the dryer to check, silly! You're letting all the hot air out. Put it in on timed dry, with a dry towel, for as long as you can afford to do without making yourself late for work. Let it dry, don't open the door to see if it's done yet. Then, at the last minute, take it out and put it on. If it's still slightly damp, it will probably dry on your body by the time you get to work.
posted by Scientist at 1:25 PM on February 19, 2014

Definitely iron it ... I live in fear of drying my work clothes on high.
posted by Koko at 1:50 PM on February 19, 2014

If the clothing is iron-safe, I'd definitely recommend doing that. The heat will transfer much more readily into the wet clothing than it would if you just blow hot air around it.
posted by Aleyn at 5:02 PM on February 19, 2014

If they weren't sopping wet and I was going to be late to work, I'd just wear them. Body heat dries clothes surprisingly quickly.
posted by mosessis at 6:23 PM on February 19, 2014

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