Tumble Dry Low
August 21, 2004 11:12 AM   Subscribe

After doing coin laundry the past six years, I was thrilled to move into an apartment that had a pre-installed washer and dryer. Problem is, the dryer does not have a "low heat" setting, and fully 90% of my wardrobe is tumble dry low. The dryer's only settings are high heat, medium heat, and no heat. I don't want to shrink my clothing, but drying with no heat doesn't seem to get the job done. What do I do?
posted by christie to Home & Garden (17 answers total)
I dry everything that says it's okay to tumble dry at all on high heat and I've notice no shrinkage or other adverse effects.

(Come to think of it, I don't think I've EVER seen a clothing tag that says "tumble dry high."
posted by ferociouskitty at 11:15 AM on August 21, 2004

Yeah, all clothes say 'tumble dry low'. All mine, anyway.
posted by sudama at 11:33 AM on August 21, 2004

is there a scientific definition of "low heat"? do all clothing manufacturers now consult with dryer manufacturers to ensure "low" means "low" and not "medium"? how will you ever cope with fast food, which seems to have abandoned "small medium and large" for "large, biggie, and superextrabombastulous"? is there any hope for americans?
posted by quonsar at 11:48 AM on August 21, 2004

ferociouskitty must have some very resilient clothing. quonsar must have some european dryer with a dial that allows you to set the exact temperature.

I've had tons of stuff shrink, and there's no doubt that drying at lower heat for a longer period of time is less conducive to shrunken clothing than high heat for a short period of time.

That said, the only way to be sure is to try some stuff that's not too valuable at medium heat. Surely, if you make sure that you are actually around to take the clothes out of the dryer right after the cycle completes, you'll get a sense of whether your clothing is now considerably warmer than it was when you took it out of your "low heat" dryer.
posted by bingo at 12:55 PM on August 21, 2004

quonsar must have some european dryer

um no. but given 2 choices of heat, i AM able to discern which might be 'low'.
posted by quonsar at 12:59 PM on August 21, 2004

I'd start it on medium and then switch it to 'no heat' to finish it off.
posted by jacquilynne at 1:08 PM on August 21, 2004

"Medium" seems to be the lowest setting that offers heat at all. Therefore, use that. If it doesn't work or damages your clothes -- and there are indeed dryers that will damage clothes on even the lowest setting (Kenmore gas dryers are notorious for this) -- then you get to have a nice, pleasant chat with your landlord about replacing the dryer and maybe a little something for the damage the old one did.

Or, you could just hang dry.
posted by majick at 1:18 PM on August 21, 2004

quonsar, I think it's perfectly clear that he is asking whether a medium setting on a dryer that has no low dries at about the same temperature as a low setting on a dryer that has a medium. It's a perfectly reasonable question, the answer probably varies by manufacturer, and it has nothing to do with being American.
posted by bingo at 1:23 PM on August 21, 2004

My all-purpose dryer advice:

(1) If you can't afford to go to Six Flags, the dryers at the laundromat are an economical thrill ride alternative. (And, if you see Mr. Six in a dryer... TURN THE HEAT UP!)

(2) Whenver I gain weight, "the dryer shrunk my clothes" is one of my most reliable cover-ups.

(3) quonsar's clothes are never totally dry.
posted by wendell at 1:45 PM on August 21, 2004

Response by poster: Thanks, bingo. You hit my concern spot on. Thanks also to everyone else who offered advice.

(The rest of you can go back to mocking me now.)
posted by christie at 2:31 PM on August 21, 2004

No, it's much more fun to mock quonsar.

You are never gonna get that stain out, q-ball.
posted by wendell at 3:14 PM on August 21, 2004

dry on the lowest available setting till damp-dry then either hang up or put on no-heat.
posted by konolia at 3:37 PM on August 21, 2004

majic - They replaced the heating element in one of the dryers in my building. Before it would leave your towels nice and toasty; now, you could use its low setting to bake a turkey and its high setting to fire pottery.
posted by nathan_teske at 4:33 PM on August 21, 2004

I just hang dry everything. Do I win?

In the interests of actually being helpful: this will most certainly not shrink your clothes. Though you may have problems if you hang some of them strangely. If you're paying for your electricity usage, you might want to consider hanging them for reasons of frugality as well.
posted by ODiV at 9:02 PM on August 21, 2004

i simply cannot comprehend the world inhabited by people who wonder about how to get their clothes dry.

don't talk with your mouth full!
posted by cohappy at 10:26 PM on August 21, 2004

I'd start it on medium and then switch it to 'no heat' to finish it off.

I would actually do the opposite of this.

I would spin them on no heat, to get most the water out and then finish on medium, or alternate.

With the heat on all that time, (as above) the clothes will remain hot (the water + heat = hotter than you should have for low tumble drying) and cooling them down won't help by then, because the damage will be done.

Instead, use the air to get them at least damp and the medium to finish them.

But, to be totally frank: I think you will be fine with medium, but I wouldn't want to stake any of your clothes on it.

I would do it with mine, though. :)

(Also, to this: i simply cannot comprehend the world inhabited by people who wonder about how to get their clothes dry. It's possible that this person doesn't wish to waste money on new clothes or wreck his/her current clothes. There's nothing wrong with that. It's good sense to ask, before you wreck your stuff.)
posted by erratic frog at 1:24 AM on August 22, 2004

As someone with a knack of buying no-tumble dry/linen shirts I would do what I do now, which is to iron them while wet then hang them.
posted by biffa at 5:32 PM on August 22, 2004

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