Tumble dry is a common term on clothing labels and is depicted by a square with a circle inside it. Taking care of clothing and fabric items correctly is important to make them last while looking at their best.
What is Tumble Dry?
Tumble dry is a term for drying clothing in a dryer machine as opposed to hanging them on the line. The advantage or tumble dry for clothing is the speed. Line drying can take days whereas using a machine can get your clothes dry in an hour or less. Tumble dryers take up less room than clotheslines making them ideal for small apartments and houses. And when it rains you don’t need to worry about rushing out to get clothes off the line. Clothes put in a tumble dry machine have fewer creases and are toasty warm when they come out.
Benefits of Tumble Dry Machines
- Less Creases
On the other side, there are a couple of disadvantages to tumble drying. Some clothing can be ruined by the heat and have their life span shortened. It is not recommended you tumble dry synthetic clothing such as polyester underwear. Dark colors can fade and fabrics can shrink.
Disadvantages of Tumble Dry Machines
- Ruin some types of clothing
Tumble Dry Symbols
When you look at your clothing tags you will see the tumble dry symbol as a square with a circle inside it. It may have black dots inside the circle indicating the level of heat. The more dots the hotter you can make the machine.
- Solid circle – tumble dry with no heat
- One dot – low heat or normal
- Two dots – medium heat
- Three dots – high heat
If you see a square with a circle and a cross through it, this means do NOT tumble dry. The clothing will be damaged by putting it in a tumbler. Polyester, silk and wool will often have this symbol.
Tumble Dry Low Heat
Low heat items are usually thin or delicate. Often the machine will have this labelled as delicate or gentle cycles with lower times. Polyester blend items may have this symbol with the one dot.
Tumble Dry High Heat
The tumble dry high symbol with 3 dots can be found on natural fabrics such as cotton. Towels, cotton clothing, jeans and shirts may have this symbol. They are usually thicker fabrics that take longer to dry. While you can turn the heat up for some items to dry faster it is best to stick to the recommended settings.
Do Not Tumble Dry Symbol
This means that your item is delicate and should not be put inside the tumble dryer. It may fade, fray or shrink with heat and needs to be treated carefully and dried on a line or even flat. Knitwear and wool can shrink or pill. Sometimes the do not tumble dry symbol is used in conjunction with the dry clean only mark.
Tumble Dry Alternatives
The alternative to using a tumble dry machine is of course drying on a line or a flat table. Lines can be attached to small racks designed for small spaces or large outside lines. Delicate items such as wool sweaters can be laid flat on a towel on a table. This prevents them from stretching out.
Save space by putting lighter items such as shirts on a clothing hanger and then putting that on the line.
Line drying time can be cut down by doing longer or double spin-dries in your washing machine. While a spin-dry will not completely dry clothing, it will take out all excess water. If you don’t have a spin-dry cycle on your washing machine, remove excess water by rolling the item in a dry towel and squeeze.
Tumble Dry vs Air Dry
When I do a load of washing I do a combination of tumble dry and air dry. For everyday items such as towels, t-shirts and cotton shirts, I throw them in the dryer as it is fast and easy. I separate a few more delicate items and throw them over a small line I have in the garage. This saves me a lot of time in having to peg lots of items and also saves space.
|TUMBLE DRY||AIR DRY|
|Cotton Fabrics||Synthetic Fabrics|
How to Tumble Dry
- Always take note of the symbol and the number of dots to find the appropriate heat.
- Spin clothing semi-dry in a washing machine first. Clothing should not be dripping wet but rather just damp. Putting clothing wet into the dryer is not recommended as it will take much longer.
- Combine items of a similar weight so they all dry similarly. For example, a work shirt does not belong with thick towels. Do not overfill the dryer as clothing will tangle and not dry evenly.
- Put the dryer on the appropriate heat setting according to the symbol. Check your machine manual for the timing or setting if it is not clear.
- If some clothing is not dry at the end, remove the dry items and put the damp items on for a little more time.
- Never overdry and leave the clothing for too long. Over drying causes damage, shrinkage and fading. Clothes need to be removed at the point where they are just dry.
- Always empty the lint container after every dry cycle as these build up quickly. Forgetting to remove lint can damage the machine and make it overheat. When drying items like towels, you will have a lot of lint to remove.
- To preserve fabric items, don’t tumble dry too often.
Is Tumble Dry the Same as Spin Dry?
Tumble dry is not the same as spin dry. Spin dry is the end of the cycle in the washing machine where the clothing is spun around to remove excess water. There is no heat involved and clothing will be still damp at the end of the process.
Tumble dry is done in a separate machine where the clothing will spin around with heat in order to completely dry the items.
Can you Tumble Dry Jeans?
Jeans are a cotton item that people are not sure whether they are suitable for tumble dry. Do check the label to make sure, but in general yes you can tumble dry jeans. Turn them inside out so no metal buttons are exposed.
Use a low setting or delicate/gentle cycle and do not over dry them. If you are not in a hurry, you can dry them in the machine until damp and then air dry them. Over drying can lead to fading and shrinking so keep an eye on the time. Denim is a cotton fabric that usually has 3-5% shrinkage, so keep this in mind if you are washing and drying for the first time.
If your jeans are the stretch variety with some kind of elastane in the fiber content, do not use the tumble dryer. They will usually stretch out of shape and get strange ripples on the fabric. I found this out the hard way!
Types of Tumble Dry Machines
Tumble dry machines can be classified according to their integration method or their heat mechanisms.
- Freestanding – These stand-alone dryers can be moved around anywhere you have a power point. This makes it ideal for putting in a garage or laundry. They are easily replaced and most fit under a standard bench.
- Integrated tumble dry machines are installed as part of your kitchen or laundry.
Another consideration in buying a new tumble dry machine is its capacity. If you have a large family you are going to want larger capacity drums. Of course, this will cost more in electricity so it is important to find a balance that is right for you.
Tumble Dry – In Conclusion
Now you know what the tumble dry symbol means it is time to get drying. Tumble dryers are fast and convenient space savers. Drying washing is a necessary but not my favorite chore and this makes it easier and gives me more time for other things – like writing this article for you.