Meet Your Clothes Dryer

It goes without saying that clothes dryers make doing the laundry a much quicker and simpler proposition. Understanding how your dryer works will help you learn to maximize its features and your clothes most efficiently. Follow these tips to make sure you are using your dryer to its fullest potential.

Basic Operation. Clothes dryers work by blowing warm air through clothes as they tumble around. Water exits the dryer in the form of steam through an exhaust vent that leads it out of the house. The lint trap—that removable screen—catches tiny fibers and other particles like pet hair that stay on clothes after washing.

Proper Loading. A maximum of three-quarters full is a good choice for normal loads, while only half full is best for permanent press garments. Without ample space to tumble, clothes will be more prone to wrinkles and take longer to dry, and the machine will use more energy to get the job done. Tumbling is where static comes into play—the friction of clothes rubbing together causes it. The fix: Use a dryer sheet in every load. It’ll help prevent static from building up in the first place and your clothes will feel softer too.

Useful Settings. Most loads can be dried on the all-purpose dryer setting. If you have enough jeans, towels and other sturdy items to justify it, run that batch using the Heavy Duty setting. It offers high heat and a longer dry time. By separating these things from other clothing, your regular load will dry faster, on lower heat. Wrinkle-free garments do well in a Permanent Press setting, which uses lower heat and often incorporates a cool-down period at the end of the cycle. Delicates, too, benefit from lower heat. Non-clothing items like rubber-backed bathroom rugs do best with an Air Dry setting.

Maintenance. To keep your clothes dryer working at peak performance, clean out the lint screen after every load. Because it doesn’t trap everything, you’ll also need to vacuum the vent space behind the screen every month for best results.

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