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10 Tips to Save Money and Keep Your Dryer Working Efficiently

Save Energy and Other Dryer Care Tips


You can generally get a longer lifespan out of your dryer with just a few basic proactive measures. Keeping it running efficiently, will also save you energy, which means more money in your pocket. Good fabric care is also a way to save, since replacing clothing can be expensive and it can often be avoided. Learn how to use a dryer properly, protect your clothing, save on dryer repairs, keep it running efficiently and increase its usable life.

If you are in the market for a new dryer, read my Dryer 101 which includes buying tips as well as general care information. And you'll also find more fabric care articles: Laundry and Fabric Care. For more information when it comes to buying a washer and dryer: Best Washer and Dryer Videos.

1. Clean the Lint Filter & Area Regularly

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By regularly, I mean that the lint filter should be emptied after or before every single dryer load, regardless of the amount of laundry you are drying. Even if you don't see much lint there, even a minute dust film can impair air flow and that means your load will take longer to dry. And drying longer means more energy.

Lint filters are usually positioned for easy access, sometimes on top of the dryer on some models, or at the front edge just inside the door. It's also imperative that you occasionally clean the area in, around and directly under the filter, because lint will also accumulate in this area.

There's also a risk of fire with too much dryer lint. A lint accumulation can cause a fire, so there's also a safety reason for regularly keeping your dryer clear of lint.
Cleaning the Dryer Lint Filter Can Save You Money
Dryer Lint Safety Concern
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2. Keep the Dryer Interior Clean

Photo © Mifflin
If you always only dry a clean washload, your dryer interior should remain clean, but unfortunately, we are sometimes tempted to dry a pair of sneakers that got rain soaked, or a damp dirty jacket. Avoid putting any soiled items in your dryer. Heat tends to bake in dirt, grime and grit, which sticks to the interior walls and guess where that will end up - on your next clean washload. Take the time needed to wash your jacket first then dry and clean the sneakers and then hang them in a warm area to dry.

Another thing that causes your dryer interior to be dirty is pocket debris that stays in clothing and makes it through the wash cycle. Lint from tissues left in pockets can be messy to clean out and it clings to dried clothing. Or a pen that explodes and leaks ink on a dryer load. Avoid these messes by always checking all pockets before washing. Clothing care is money saved.
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3. Exhaust a Dryer Properly

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A dryer should be vented to the outdoors and flexible hose with the proper connectors and adapters are crucial to maintaining a snug fit. Sometimes because of machine vibration, the hose can come loose if not secured and that will cause lint and humidity to be released into the air behind the dryer. That can cause health concerns as well as excess moisture problems. Read more about controlling home moisture.

Be proactive and occasionally check your dryer connection to ensure connections are good and it exhausts properly. A venting kit like the one shown is handy for quick connecting/disconnecting when cleaning.

There are special vent deflectors for those who purposely want to return that hot humid air to the room and many do this to save on heating. While the concept is good, it also can release a certain amount of dust to the area, if there is insufficient lint filtering. And you need to ensure that adding humidity to the room is advisable depending on your particular home moisture and climate. Laundry areas tend to have higher humidity levels than other areas of the home, so this kind of diversion is not always advisable.

And while on the subject of dryer installation, are your laundry appliances installed to make your workflow as you do laundry, more convenient and efficient? Read: How to Install a Washer and Dryer for Best Convenience.

4. Clean Out the Exterior Vent as Needed

Photo © Mifflin
It's surprising how much lint does transfer to the exterior vent and accumulate there. And it does so more quickly if you dry items that tend to generate more fluff or lint, such as chenille or flannel bedding. The exterior vent must be kept clear for two reasons - it can cause a fire when too much dust accumulates there and it also blocks the flow of air exhausted from your dryer.
How to Clear the Exterior Dryer Vent

5. Appropriate Drying Time Can Save You Money

Photo © Mifflin
I know it's quicker to use the default setting of say, 27 minutes or manually set every load for 30 or 45 minutes. But even one minute more than is really needed to dry your washload, means more energy and money wasted. It can take a little experimenting to figure out just how long your average load needs and that will vary depending on the type of laundry, but it's well worth it. Why use more energy than you need to.

Some dryers have default time settings which are often way too long, so bypass those and select what makes sense for your load. My dryer even defaults to medium heat when I turn it on, which is too low for many of my loads and they take a long time to dry, so defaults aren't always the best for every load.

If your dryer takes 45 minutes or longer to dry a regular size load, that's way too long. It's time to invest in either a new washer which will better spin the water out of the laundry for quicker drying, or a more efficient dryer. For example, I can dry a load with three pairs of jeans and other articles, or a load of towels in about 24 minutes; sheets and tea towels in about 17 minutes and permanent press clothing ready to be hung to finish drying in about 12 minutes.

Note that newer frontload washers tend to spin much faster and do a better job of removing water from the washload, than the traditional style of washing machine. When more water is extracted in the washer, the load takes a shorter time to dry.

Multiple dryer settings can be very confusing, but take a moment to review your manual and find the few settings you're more likely to use on a regular basis, and then decide on an appropriate average time frame based on the load type. Don't assume that the factory defaults are what you'll need for every load. One dryer feature that can be very handy to avoid excess energy use, is a dry more sensor setting.
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6. Wrinkle-free Can Cost You More in Energy

Photo © Mifflin
While the wrinkle-free setting is a nice dryer feature to have, unless monitored, it can end up costing you more in energy. If you forget the wrinkle-free setting on, the dryer will cycle on/off until you remove your load and turn the dryer off. If still selected, it will do that for every load.

That means the dryer keeps cycling for a few minutes every now and then, until you clear it which might be a few hours later, and that translates into wasted energy. Use this setting as needed and then turn it off. An audible signal that the cycle is done, does save on wrinkles and can help you stay on top of things and finish your laundry tasks.

7. Choose the Proper Dryer Settings to Save Clothes and Energy

Photo © Mifflin
Explore your dryer settings and take advantage of those that help to keep your clothes looking nice longer, because appropriate drying heat matters when it comes to fabrics. The right heat can protect your clothing and laundry.

Whites, towels, sheets, socks and so on can be dried on a normal setting with higher heat. But permanent press clothing must be dried on a lower, medium heat if you don't want wrinkles to set in, fibers to burn and generally wreck your clothing. Delicates require low to no air, just a tumbling.

Very good clothing, wool blankets and especially items with spandex, should be hung to dry. In fact, if you hang dry dress clothing, it will generally have less static, hold its shape better and look nice longer.

Washing and drying instruction tags are very helpful for proper fabric care if you want to protect your clothing. The end result is money saved.

8. Always Dry Reasonable Size Loads

Photo © Mifflin
Combining several loads at once or drying an oversized heavy load doesn't translate into efficient drying. It makes your dryer sluggish, inefficient and impairs good air/heat flow, which then requires more time to dry that huge load. Dry reasonable loads if you want your dryer to work efficiently and save energy.

An overly heavy load can also cause dryer belt problems as the interior tub struggles to turn and that can translate into costly repairs. If your loads are very large, you should be using a dryer designed for large loads.

And keep in mind that the manufacturer's suggested dryer load capacities often don't make sense in practical use if you want the clothes to dry well. What might be used in their example of so many pairs of jeans, might be smaller sizes and the same can be true of bath towels, which might be much smaller than yours. Be kind to your dryer, dry reasonable size loads and use a dryer designed to meet your needs. A family dryer should be large to extra-large capacity.

9. Clean the Back of the Dryer

Photo © Mifflin
This is one area that often gets neglected until the dryer is removed from its place for whatever reason, but too much dust/lint there can impair the air vents. Pulling the dryer out occasionally to clean behind and around it, will help you maintain a good dust control and you might also find some missing socks or small laundry items that have fallen behind the appliance. While out, take time to vacuum the venting area at the back of the dryer. This is also a good time to check that venting connections are intact.

10. Worthwhile Dryer Accessories

Photo © Mifflin
Accessories such as a sweater or shoe rack designed for your dryer model, can help to more efficiently dry those items because they allow better air/heat circulation around them. Laundry mesh bags can help keep small items together reducing laundry frustration and tangles, as well as keep garment hooks from snagging other clothing.

Though we don't often think of a laundry sorter as a dryer accessory, proper sorting and drying similar items together starts at the sorting stage. That helps to reduce pills or lint especially on dark clothing when the washload is sorted properly. A rack is also a handy accessory for hanging certain articles to dry to keep energy bills down, while protecting your clothing.

Some dryer models have optional pedestal bases or small cabinets that can be placed either underneath the appliances or between the washer and dryer to house things like fabric sheets, lint rollers and mesh laundry bags.

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How to Assemble a Basic Sewing/Mending Kit
How to Dry Woolen Blankets
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