Why Shouldn’t I Tumble Dry My Kids Clothes?

Why Shouldn’t I Tumble Dry My Kids Clothes?

If you have children I bet you know the feeling of annoyance when you hang the washing on the airer before you go to bed and it is still damp in the morning.

It's infuriating isn't it?

I know how you feel! I have three children and they create a lot of washing.

And a lot of washing can take a long time to dry – especially on a damp, Autumn day.

If you have a tumble dryer, are you tempted to just chuck the lot in? I know I am.

It gets it out the way, it gets it dry in an hour and – if you get the load out as soon as it is finished – with a quick shake it probably won’t need ironing either.

Sounds good, right?

Its quick, its easy and its convenient.

But did you know that tumble drying your clothes is not great if you are trying to save money, save the planet or want your kids clothes to last longer than a few wears?

Before you throw that wet washing in the dryer, have a read of this article. You might just think twice next time!

1. Tumble drying shrinks your clothes

I don’t think this is going to come as surprise to anyone. Deep down we all know that tumble drying shrinks our clothes, don't we?

I’ve put socks and pants in the dryer only to get them out when dry and they don’t fit even the smallest child in our house.

I might have saved a few hours drying time but I now have to buy new socks to replace the ones that no longer go over my kids’ feet.

The heat from the dryer expands and contracts the fibres of the fabric and the constant change in heat can make the fibres shrink. This happens mostly with natural fabrics (wool, cotton etc) and it why my labels say not to tumble dry any Tutti Frutti Clothing garments. Most handmade makers or cotton clothing labels will say the same thing.

READ MORE about why your clothes shrink in this blog: Why Do My Clothes Shrink?

2. Tumble Drying Damages Your Clothes

When you clean out the lint drawer or tray from your dryer is it full of fluff? Do you know what that fluff is? It is loads and loads of tiny fibres from your clothing.

Every time you dry your clothes in the dryer, the dryer is stripping tiny bits of fabric from the garments. Over time, the fabric become weaker, which can result in rips and tears appearing.

This article claims that "While cotton can be dried at the relatively high temperatures in clothes dryers without immediate catastrophic damage, serious abrasions and cracking damage occur with repeated dryings,"

The article says that over time, using a tumble dryer can reduce the fabric strength in a garment by 25%.

So there you have it, tumble drying your clothes really does cause them quite a lot of damage.

3. Tumble Drying Can Fade Your Clothes

This one is less common but it does happen. The hotter the heat of a tumble dryer, the more it can cause your clothes to fade.

I make bright and colourful leggings. They really will fade and bobble much much quicker if you dry them in a dryer.

If you are worried about your clothing fading in the wash then this article has some top tips on how to avoid that. 7 Ways to Stop Your Colourful Baby Leggings Fading in the Wash

4. Using a Tumble Dryer Can Get Expensive!

tumble_dry_costlyDrying your clothes in a dryer uses a lot of energy and we all know that energy (electricity, gas etc) costs money.

A condenser dryer is the most expensive to run and a C rated dryer will cost more to run than an A++ rated dryer - but they all cost more than simple line drying.

You can reduce the cost of running a tumble dryer but only part drying the clothes in a dryer and using an airer to finish them off or cleaning the filter out before each use but ultimately air drying is really the cheapest way to dry your clothes.

You can read more about the cost comparisons to run different type of dryers in this article.

5. Tumble Drying Your Clothes is Damaging the Planet

cost_to_the_planetThe cost of drying clothes is not just about the financial cost. There is a real cost to the planet too.

This article in the Guardian states that if all tumble dryer owners dried one load of washing outside in place of using the dryer we could save over a million tonnes of CO2 in a year.

A million tonnes.

Just let that sink in a bit.


An average drying-machine cycle uses just over 4kWh of energy and produces around 1.8kg CO2. If all households with a tumble dryer dried one load of washing outside each week, instead of by machine, they would save over a million tonnes of CO2 in a year.

Alongside using less plastic or eating less meat we should be making a conscious effort to reduce our carbon footprint.

And reducing the use of appliances like tumble dryers is a great place to start.

Mainly because the alternative is so easy – and is free!

I know using a dryer is convenient – no one wants wet towels hanging around for days on end in winter – but taking small steps to reduce our tumble dryer use can have a big effect on the planet.

And if having an airer in the house taking up space is the price to pay for doing just that bit more to having a smaller carbon footprint, then I’m going to do it.

So there you have it. Tumble drying our kids’ clothes causes them to shrink, weakens the fabric, makes them fade faster, costs money and is not that great for the environment either.

What are your thoughts?  Are you in the ‘no tumble drying’ camp or do you prefer to get that washing dried and out the way as quickly as possible? Let me know in the comments!


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