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Can You Dry Towels with Clothes?

Collage photo of drying clothes and towels using dryer machine.

The term ‘tumble dry’ refers to putting your laundry inside a tumble dryer to be dried. Its aim is to fully dry your laundry instead of just extracting some of the moisture from it. The constant hot temperature and movement dries the clothes and items usually come out of the machine feeling nice and warm. If you’ve chosen a ready-to-wear cycle, then you can put the item of clothing on straight away.

But, what if there was a way to speed up this process? What if you could make your tumble dryer more efficient? Well, that’s what putting your clothes in with a towel is purported to do and in this following post, we’re going to investigate this claim.

Drying your clothes with a dry, fluffy towel

Empty washing machine in laundry room with basket of dirty clothes on top of it.

It’s believed that it takes less time to dry a load of clothes when it’s placed into the dryer with a dry towel. Apparently, the towel helps to absorb the moisture from the clothes, causing the machine to use less energy.

If you’re like me and end up leaving your clothes in the drier so long that they get all wrinkled up, you can just throw in a wet towel or more wet clothes and set it to go a bit longer. The moisture and heat will un-set the wrinkles and (if you pull them out when they are still warm this time) you won’t have to get the ironing board out!

Putting a damp towel in the dryer with a wrinkly shirt/shorts/pants will save you ironing time so you’re free to go about your morning. Also, hanging a wrinkly shirt on an empty towel rack will get the wrinkles out while you take a warm shower. Steam is the theme here, as you can see.

If you’re only trying to dry one or two pieces of clothes, like in a hurry for a night out or something, the towel really does work, no question.

It’s also commonly believed that drying the same materials together can help to avoid some of the dry-wet problem. I do my laundry on the laundry mat and it really works.  I dry heavy materials together like towels and jeans and they dry better than putting them together with shirts and stuff. This is how I know that it does work to throw your clothes into the dryer with a towel.

However, just tossing your clothes along with a towel in the dryer isn’t enough. You have to keep a watchful eye on the entire process or it won’t work. So the whole “set it and forget it” mentality is not going to play here. But, you can modify this a bit to make it work to your advantage.

The verdict?

In the bathroom, clean laundry is drying on a rack.

You really can make your clothes dry faster using the towel method by putting the towel in first and then removing it about 15 to 20 minutes in. The towel itself is still going to be wet and full of moisture, so you’ll want to hang it to dry. The benefit is that your clothes are going to continue to dry without all the extra moisture present. 

On the other hand, if you were to keep your towel in you would take the surface area away from the inside dryer bin. Think about it like this; if you take a glass of water and pour half of it into a bowl and the other half into a cookie sheet, what happens? Which one do you think is going to dry first? Obviously, the cookie sheet because there’s more surface area.

So, by removing the wet towel at this point, you’re actually reducing drying time by increasing surface area. The air is going to circulate better and make the drying process more efficient.

As for drying multiple towels with your clothes, there’s reason to believe that this would actually slow down the drying process as the towels will not only take up all the dryer’s surface area, but it would actually increase the overall moisture of everything inside it.

Therefore, if you want to dry your clothes faster, you can do so with a single towel, but you maybe shouldn’t put more than one towel in with your clothes.

Top clothes drying tips

A vintage laundry room with contemporary equipment and wicker baskets.

  • Remember to empty your lint trap every time you finish doing your laundry or right before you put in a new load. That’s because lint buildup can be a really dangerous fire hazard and it can clog up the airflow of your machine, increase drying time and make your machine less efficient. 
  • Check your fabric care labels to make sure that the fabric is okay to go into the dryer. Always dry your clothes inside out. 
  • Make sure your dryer is venting properly so that it’s energy efficient. 
  • Stick a couple of tennis balls in with your load to help aerate the load and keep things separate. Tumble dryer balls with essential oil are another great option to not only aerate the machine but to give the clothes a pleasant fragrance.

What about spin-drying your clothes?

Spin dry takes place towards the end of the washing cycle and its sole purpose is to splint the soaking wet laundry around the drum really fast to extract moisture from the material. This means that when you go to pull out your clean clothes they aren’t dripping wet and extremely heavy. The laundry will be damp and more manageable instead.

Also, spinning clothes before they go into a tumble dryer helps the dryer finish quicker which saves money because dryers are typically notoriously expensive to run. The spin-dry process removes unwanted fluid from clothes that have been washed and are still wet, and adding a towel to your laundry in the dryer will further expedite the process and save you time and energy.

Drying clothes made simple

In front of an open washing machine, a young woman is inspecting her T-shirt.

The process for drying your towels and clothes is the same no matter what color they are. Once you’ve pulled them out of the washer, you want to put them into the dryer immediately. This is especially the case with colorful towels and clothes; you don’t want to let them sit for a long time because they will start to smell and then you’ll have to start the process all over again.

Most dryers have two drying options. There’s the automatic dryer with high heat and it usually comes with a specific setting for towels, too. This setting is designed to apply the necessary amount of heat for the right amount of time and it takes the whole thinking process out of it.

You also have the time drying option, which always applies high heat. This is what you want with towels because they’re made from thick materials and they take a little bit longer to dry than the rest of your clothing. Ideally, with time drying, you should put it in for the longest load possible which is usually about 15 minutes or so.

All this to say; the dryer plays an integral role in the laundry process. There’s nothing more satisfying than freshly-washed clothes, and using your tumble dryer in the winter is a given especially during the busy holiday season. However, it can cost a lot of money to tumble dry your clothes which is why it’s important to find ways to make your dryer work more efficiently, and using the towel method can help you achieve just that.