We have all been there. You’re rushed to get the laundry done before a big weekend or you’re pressed to get all the bedding done for the whole house. There are a thousand ways it can happen, but when you have a ton of laundry to do and only one washer and one dryer, that’s a bottleneck that can really bring you down. The wash can finish a lot faster than the dryer can on the right settings, you might have noticed, and that means you have wet clothes piling up.
If you’re like many people you may have given your kitchen stove a sideways glance, thinking, hmm, there might be a solution there. Well, if that describes you, you’re not alone. Many people have strongly considered using the oven to dry clothes. Quite a few have tried it, and many have regretted it. The question is, can you dry clothes in the oven safely? Fortunately for you, we have the answers.
Can You Dry Clothing in the Oven?
The short answer to this question is – Yes, you can dry clothes in the oven and dry them in there. It is faster than the tumble dryer. It may even be more energy efficient. But it can be very dangerous, obviously.
The full answer to the question is that you should only consider using the oven if there is no other alternative, including leaving wet clothes laying around. Why? Because the danger is severe. But, supposing you are determined to take the risk. Okay, then we need to have a talk.
What to do When You Have too Many Clothes to Dry in the Dryer
Our first point of advice is, that even though you can, you should not dry clothes in the oven, ever. It is dangerous, even when you take great care not to burn your clothing.
In short, for the record, let it be noted that we do not recommend that you dry any fabric in the oven. We firmly recommend using a clothes dryer, a clothesline, or almost any other means not involving flame or possible contact between the fabric and a heating element.
Now, supposing you are determined to do this, despite our stern warning not to, here is some advice to help you to do it in a way that is less dangerous. If you follow our advice, there is a better chance that you will not start a fire.
Again, we do not recommend that you dry any clothing in the dryer, ever.
Drying Synthetic Fabrics in the Oven
Polyester and other artificial fabrics are the most dangerous fabrics to dry in an oven. They melt and catch fire more quickly than other fabrics. What’s more, when they melt and burn they form a molten plastic slag that will adhere to the skin and can cause very nasty burns.
If this plastic slag makes contact with metal in the oven, it will become permanently attached. This will make the oven smell very bad every time you use it until the plastic is finally burned away. Also, the smoke from burning plastic is especially toxic.
Therefore, should you dry polyester in the oven contrary to our warning not to, you should follow all of the precautions described below. You should also keep the heat significantly lower than you will with other, more heat-resistant fabrics.
When pressing polyester, it is recommended to keep the temperature below 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Because of the added danger of heating polyester in the oven, we recommend using temperatures no higher than 200 degrees Fahrenheit.
Drying Non-Synthetic Fabrics in the Oven
For most other fabrics, the temperature of the oven should not exceed 250 to 300 degrees Fahrenheit. When you begin experimenting with oven drying, we strongly recommend starting at 200 degrees, checking the clothing every couple of minutes, and taking them out before they are completely dry.
Please follow these precautions fully to reduce the danger as much as possible.
Before placing clothing in the oven, wring it out as fully as possible. Spin or wring the clothing to get rid of excess water. After you have spun or wrung your clothing out well, wrap it in a dry towel and wring it some more.
Set up a smoke alarm
If you have an especially sensitive smoke alarm, it would be ideal for keeping you safer while you do this. Most homes have one smoke alarm that is so sensitive the family keeps it stored without the battery. This would be the ideal choice.
Leave the oven door ajar
Leaving the oven door so that it is open by a few inches will help reduce a few potential problems. It will make the heat less likely to build up too rapidly and singe your clothing. If something begins to burn, you will smell it sooner and have a better chance of rescuing it before disaster strikes. Finally, the steam that rises from your clothing will not be as overwhelming when you open the door.
You should check your clothes at least every five minutes. Check it with your eyes and with your nose. If you detect even the slightest burning smell, you should remove your clothing and abandon the effort immediately. Stay near the oven while drying clothing in it. Wash some dishes or get other kitchen tasks done while drying this way. Never leave your in-oven clothing unattended.
Do not dry fully
As long as there is a hint of moisture in the fabrics, they will be much less likely to catch fire. This is part of the reason you want to use low temperatures between 200 and 250 Fahrenheit. You want to be able to gingerly touch the edge of the fabric with your hand so that you can take it out before it becomes dangerously dry.
Use heat buffers
If you have a drawer full of oven mitts, laying these down on the metal grill might be a good idea. Alternatively, laying your clothing across the edges of cooking dishes with high edges will minimize the amount of contact your clothing will make with hot surfaces. If you have several baking dishes two or three inches deep, cover as much surface area of the oven grill as you can with them. Place your clothing on the pans instead of directly on the metal grill.
Finally, consider using oven drying only on your course fabrics like denim and other more casual things. Save the dryer for clothing that you want to get all of the wrinkles out of since fully drying in the oven is not recommended. Because you are saving the oven for emergencies and using it only on casual clothes, putting them on slightly damp is not such a big deal.
You don’t want to incompletely dry a button-down work shirt, a nice dress, or other things that really need to be de-wrinkled. Therefore, use oven drying in laundry emergencies only, and only on more casual fabrics that can be left slightly damp.
Even if you do fully dry a higher quality price of clothing in the oven, it is certain to come out with impressions where it made contact with the grill or the edges of pots and pans.
Can I Dry Clothing in the Microwave?
This is less dangerous to you and your home but is almost sure to damage the fabric and possibly the microwave oven. Because microwaves excite water molecules, the effect on clothing is less than desirable. This might also ruin your microwave since there will be very little material to absorb the heat and prevent the microwave from cooking itself.