Can You Dry Clothes In The Oven? (read this first)

During the winter months getting laundry dry can be challenging, especially here in the UK where it seems to rain constantly. We often find ourselves relying on the tumble dryer to get our clothes dry.

So what do you do if your tumble dryer breaks down? This was when we first thought about using our oven to dry just a few bits that we needed almost straight away.

And it is possible to dry small items of clothing in the oven, but it’s not advisable. Plus there are many types of fabrics that should never be put in the oven. There’s also a set way to safely “cook” clothes in an oven to get them dry.

To find out all the ins and outs of drying clothes using the oven, keep reading.

Can I Dry Clothes In The Oven?

You can dry some types of clothes in the oven but only under the right conditions. The problem is, you can’t let any items actually touch any part of the inside of the oven. Plus it’s not a good idea to try drying clothes that are folded in an oven.

Which means you’re limited to only drying small items that can be laid flat in a baking tray. So socks, underwear or small tops should be OK but not trousers, jeans etc because they couldn’t fit in a baking tray without being folded.

The oven needs to be set at the lowest temperature and preheated. Then the power should be shut off before the clothes that are in the baking tray go into the oven.

Then you simply shut the oven door and allow the heat that’s left in the oven to dry the clothes. This can be a long process, in fact, two pairs of boxers took over an hour!

So even though using the oven in this way to dry clothes costs around 50% less than using a tumble dryer, it takes way longer and you can only get a few bits dry at any one time – making it actually a lot more expensive to dry a full load.

Plus, not only does it take a long time to get a few items dry, you have to be on hand the whole time for the sake of safety. This is just in case you smell burning or notice anything off with the clothes which could cause damage to the oven (see below).

How To Dry Clothes Using An Oven

socks

To dry a few items of clothing in your oven you will need an oven and a baking tray. Overall this process will take you around 55 minutes.

  1. Preheat The Oven
    The oven should be preheated to its lowest setting for around 10 minutes.
  2. Turn The Oven Off
    Once preheated, you must turn the oven off before adding any clothes.
  3. Place Clothes In A Baking Tray
    The clothes should be small enough to fit flat and unfolded into the baking tray.
  4. Put The Baking Tray In The Oven
    Once the baking tray is placed in the oven, ensure that no part of any garment is touching any part of the oven at all.
  5. Close The Oven Door
    Close the oven door and with the power still off, allow the residue heat from the oven to dry the clothes.
  6. Keep A Close Eye On The Clothes
    All the while the clothes are in the oven, you will need to keep a close eye on them to prevent any damage.

When removing the baking tray with clothes from the oven remember the oven will still be quite hot. You should always wear oven gloves or silicone oven mitts to prevent burning yourself.

With heat still in mind, you should also place the oven tray on a trivet or even the hob to prevent damaging the worktop.

Please note: Drying clothes in an oven is not recommended and over time, the buildup of humidity can cause damage to your oven. This could affect the way the oven works and how long it keeps running.

Oven Drying Clothes Tips

We do not recommend drying clothes in your oven because it can cause damage to your oven and your clothes. Added to which it is time consuming and could leave your clothes smelling of last night’s dinner.

However, if you simply have to have a few small items dry immediately and there’s no other way, we have a few tips to help save time and keep you, your clothes and your oven safe.

Always Remove As Much Water As Possible

Before you put any clothes in the oven, you need to remove as much moisture as possible. This can be done by wringing your garments or if they’re too delicate for wringing, try wrapping them in a towel and gently pressing to remove water.

This helps prevent too much water vapour forming in the oven, which is the main reason drying clothes in the oven can shorten the lifespan of your appliance.

Always Ensure The Oven Is Off Before Putting Any Clothes In

We know how it is, you want the items dry as soon as possible so you think leaving the oven on will help speed up the process. This is a bad idea which could lead to seriously damaging your clothes.

The residue heat from preheating the oven is more than enough to dry clothes. By turning the oven on, you run the risk of baking the clothes to the point that they may catch fire. Or at the very least scorching them.

Limit The Number Of Items In The Oven

The more items that you put in the oven at one time, the more water vapour is likely to be produced. This water vapour causes two main problems: Firstly, it will increase the amount of time items take to dry, and secondly, it will lead to problems with your oven.

Always Keep An Eye On The Clothes

Whilst the clothes are drying, you need to stay close by so that you can check on the clothes occasionally. You should do this through the glass inspection plate on the oven door so as not to allow any heat to escape.

Obviously, if you smell burning, you’ll need to open the oven door to remove the clothes immediately.

Use A Smoke Alarm

If you have a smoke alarm that can be moved, it’s a good idea to place it in the kitchen when drying clothes in an oven. It will detect any burning often long before we could.

Allowing you to remove the clothes before they get burnt, scorched or too damaged.

What Types Of Clothes Can Be Oven Dried?

Clothes

There are certain types of materials that should never be dried in an oven and some that can be as long as it’s not too often.

Is It OK To Dry Synthetic Fabrics In An Oven?

Polyester and other synthetic materials are likely to melt if exposed to too much heat. When synthetic fabrics melt, they turn into an incredibly hot molten mess which will cause extremely nasty burns if it comes into contact with the skin.

It could also melt onto parts of the oven and once cooled and dry, it can be almost impossible to remove. This would result in the oven smelling of burnt plastic every time it was used. As if this wasn’t bad enough, the fumes produced from burning plastic are toxic.

Which is why you should absolutely never dry polyester or any other synthetic fabric in the oven.

Is It OK To Dry Natural Fabrics In An Oven?

FabricCan Be Dried In An Oven
LeatherNo
SuedeNo
SilkNo
WoolNo
SyntheticsNo
Denim No
CottonYes
LinenYes

It depends on which natural fabric you want to dry. Some will be OK if subjected to the residue heat from an oven, but there are others that it is not advised to dry in the oven.

Leather & Suede

Leather and suede should never be subjected to any heat at all unless you want to ruin the fabric. Under any form of heat, leather as well as suede will dry out and crack or split.

Once the material splits, it can never be repaired and is then useless.

Silk

Silk is a delicate fabric and should also never be subjected to high temperatures. You will need to wait for silk to dry naturally, it should never be dried in an oven.

Wool

Woollen garments will lose too much moisture if exposed to high temperatures. This would cause the wool to shrink or become out of shape and in many cases this shrinkage cannot be reversed.

We recommend never putting woollen garments in an oven to dry.

Cotton

Cotton is OK to dry in an oven as long as you only dry a few small items. As we said earlier it will take more than an hour to dry two pairs of cotton boxers, but it is possible.

Cotton shirts and trousers will not be suitable for oven drying as you would need to fold them to fit them into the baking tray. 

Denim

Denim items are often too big to fit in an oven tray. The fabric is also too thick to dry in an oven. We would not recommend trying to dry denim in an oven.

Linen

Small linen items can be dried in an oven as long as they don’t need to be folded. As linen is often a thin fabric it should dry faster than cotton so please reduce the amount of time you leave it in the oven.

Can I Dry Clothes In A Microwave Oven?

Microwave

Once people learn that it is possible to dry clothes using an oven they automatically assume that it’s OK to dry clothes in a microwave too. However, this is not true, and it is in fact very dangerous.

Microwave ovens work using different principles to conventional ovens. The way microwaves work is by heating up the moisture content of the food. 

All that will happen with clothes is the water content will become incredibly hot before evaporating causing large amounts of steam and water vapour to build up in the microwave.

Plus as anyone that owns a microwave knows, any metallic objects can start to create sparks. Metal zips, studs or fasteners are likely to spark in the microwave which could lead to the clothes catching fire.

Not forgetting of course, that as microwaves are relatively small appliances, all clothes would need to be folded which is not ideal either. This would lead to clothes drying unevenly at best and burnt at worst.

Are There Any Fast Alternatives To Oven Drying?

There are a number of alternative ways to get clothes dry in a hurry without resorting to using the oven when the tumble dryer is not an option. These include;

Heated Clothes Airer

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  • Speeding up the drying process by keeping heat contained. Machine washable polyester cotton

These work in the same way as a standard clothes airer but with the added benefit of an electric heating element. The element heats the bars which the clothes are either hung on or laid flat across.

The best type of heated clothes airers have covers which keep the heat contained within the unit. This not only gets clothes dryer faster, it also prevents any moisture from escaping into the room. Which reduces any problems associated with dampness.

Using a heated clothes airer allows you to dry a whole wash load of clothes in one go.

A Hairdryer

Using a hairdryer to dry clothes can be expensive which is why this is only recommended for drying a few items only. You need to keep the nozzle a hand’s length away from the fabric and ensure that the nozzle is constantly moving back and forth to prevent any damage.

You will also need to turn the item inside out and be sure to concentrate along the seams, whilst always keeping the nozzle moving. 

An Iron

This method is only really suitable for drying one or two items as it can become quite costly and time consuming. The items should have as much excess water removed as possible before ironing by either wringing or squeezing the water out.

Then place the item on an ironing board, place a dry towel on top of it, and iron over the top of the towel. The towel protects the fabric from getting burnt from the iron whilst also absorbing moisture from the garment.

A Clothesline

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GZBtech Steel Core Washing Line with & Green PVC Coating, 30m/100ft Strong Clothesline Rope of 265lbs Bearing Capacity, Rust-proof and Weather Resistant String Line for Outdoor Garden Airer
  • ★ 4mm Diameter & 30m Length- GZBtech steel core washing line is 4mm in diameter, thick enough to hold pegs,and stronger than most of other brands. Designed in 30m/100ft long, meets high demands for length,you can cut off to whatever length you want. Note: We suggest to use pliers or wire cutters for cutting off.
  • ★ Steel Core & PVC Cover - The steel core is cooper plated for not easy to rust and it covered in rust-proof PVC, eliminating the possibilities of leaving dirty marks on your clothes.It has long lifespan to protect the outdoor washing line against all seasons of weather and ensures that the color will not fade after a long time using.

When the weather’s good in summer time there’s no better way of drying wet clothes than on a clothesline. On a hot summer’s day a full load of laundry can be completely dry in as little as two hours.

You just need to ensure each item is pegged to the line securely and always leave enough space between each item to allow the breeze and the sunlight to dry them.

Is Drying Clothes In An Oven A Good Idea?

Although it is possible to dry a few items of clothing in a preheated oven, it’s not a long term solution. Nor is it always safe and many fabrics will become damaged beyond repair if dried in an oven.

Plus, let’s not forget the potential damage to the oven from water vapour. This could cause any electrical circuits to blow and also cause any metallic items to rust. For these and all of the other reasons stated above we would never recommend drying clothes in an oven.

There are so many more efficient, safer options available which will do a far better job of drying your clothes. Without having to worry about the materials or whether there will be any damage to the clothes or the appliance.

SEE ALSO: Tumble Dryer Alternatives: How to dry clothes indoors without a Dryer

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I dry clothing in the oven?

Whilst it is possible to dry small items of laundry in the oven, it should only be done as a last resort. There are many fabrics that will become damaged if dried in an oven. These include synthetic fabrics as well as silk and wool. If you do decide to dry clothes in the oven, the oven should be preheated to the lowest possible temperature and then turned off. Only after the oven is off should clothes be put in the oven. These clothes should be placed in a baking tray to prevent them touching any part of the oven.

How long does it take to dry clothes in the oven?

Drying clothes in an oven is a slow business. It can take longer than an hour to dry two pairs of boxers. On average though, it takes around 55 minutes to dry an item of clothing.

Is it OK to put wet things in the oven?

You should remove as much water from garments before putting them in the oven. The water vapour produced by drying clothes in the oven can damage your oven.

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