Can You Dry Clothes With An Iron? (read this first)

The short answer is yes, you can dry clothes with an iron, but there’s more to it than that. You see, there are only certain fabrics that can be ironed dry and you have to get the moisture content just right too. To find out more about ironing clothes dry, keep reading.

Why Iron Dry Wet Clothes?

We’ve all done it at one point or another, forgotten about that big meeting that’s scheduled for tomorrow morning and we don’t have a decent shirt ready to wear.

In this scenario we either have to spend all of the evening concentrating on laundry when we really need to prepare for the meeting, or get a shirt washed quickly and iron it dry.

What Clothes Can Not Be Ironed Dry?

Always check the wash care labels

Before you decide to iron dry any of your laundry, you need to check the care label. If any of your clothes have “do not iron” written on the care label, then you can’t iron dry that item.

It’s also not a good idea to iron;

  • Silk
  • Wool
  • Polyester
  • Spandex
  • Heat Resistant Fabrics
  • Water Resistant Fabrics

Silk fabrics are likely to get damaged if ironed because it’s such a delicate material. Wool is likely to shrink if exposed to high heat and overdrying. 

Polyester and spandex are synthetic fabrics which can be seriously damaged by excessive heat. 

Synthetic man made fabrics are also relatively quick drying. This means they’re likely to dry overnight without any ironing at all.

Heat and water resistant fabrics have been treated with a special coating that could become damaged or even removed if subjected to ironing.

What Clothes Can Be Ironed Dry?

Fabrics that can be ironed dry include;

  • Cotton
  • Linen
  • Denim

As with all fabrics, ironing dry cotton or denim will only be successful with thin garments. Anything too thick will never dry using an iron.

What Are The Pros & Cons Of Ironing Dry Your Clothes?

Now we’ve established exactly which clothes can be iron dried, let’s have a look at the advantages and disadvantages.

The Benefits

There are several benefits to ironing clothes dry which include;

  • Cheaper Than Tumble Drying
    Tumble dryers are one of the biggest consumers of electricity in your home. This means that using an iron to dry clothes saves money.
  • Saves Time
    Compared to air drying which can take anywhere between 2 to 24 hours to get clothes dry, ironing clothes dry saves time. Many clothes can be ironed dry enough to wear in a few minutes.
  • Less Damaging To Your fabrics
    Tumble dryers treat clothes roughly. The mechanical tumbling action can cause clothes to become stretched, ripped, misshapen or otherwise damaged. As you are in control of the iron and you’re dealing with one item at a time, the clothes are treated much more gently.
  • Removes Wrinkles Easily
    If clothes are too dry, it’s hard to remove wrinkles which is why steam irons were invented. When you iron damp clothes you are effectively using the same principles as steam ironing. The wrinkles fall out of damp fabrics way easier than they would if that fabric was completely dry.

The Disadvantages

The main disadvantages of ironing clothes dry include;

  • Clothes Need to Be Nearly Dry
    You can’t iron dry sopping wet clothes, they need to be just damp at the very most to successfully iron them dry.
  • Can Create Lots Of Water Vapour
    The heat from the iron causes the water trapped in the fabric to turn into steam or water vapour. This can create problems with damp in the room if there’s insufficient ventilation.
  • Clothes Can Stretch
    Ironing dry semi-synthetic or blended fabrics can cause them to stretch if you’re not careful.
  • Can Weaken Fabrics
    If you iron some materials too aggressively they are liable to lose their strength and in some cases can become hard and unpliable.

How To Iron Clothes Dry


Using an iron to dry clothes can be a long process and you’ll need to allow enough time to complete this task fully to get good results.

You will need: An Iron, Dry Towels and a Clothes Hanger. This whole process should take you around 10 minutes, depending on the garment you’re drying.

  1. Check the care label
    Before washing or ironing the particular item(s) you want in a hurry, you should always consult the care label to make sure it is safe to do so.
  2. Wash the item(s)
    Wash the clothes according to the care labels instructions and give them an extra spin at the end of the programme.
  3. Remove excess water from the item
    Place a towel on a flat surface and take the item from the drum of your machine. Place the item on the towel and roll the towel up with the item inside. Gently press on the towel to squeeze most of the excess moisture from the item.
  4. Place a dry towel on your ironing board
    Lay a dry towel flat on your ironing board or flat work surface.
  5. Place the wet item on the towel
    Place another towel on top of the item, you should now have a dry towel either side of the damp item like a sandwich.
  6. Iron over the top towel
    Select the lowest heat setting on your iron and press it against the towel at the top of your fabric sandwich. Move the iron over every part of the towel to ensure the item in the middle is completely pressed all over. The heat generated from the iron’s soleplate will evaporate the moisture from the garment which is absorbed by the towels.
  7. Keep ironing until dry
    Continue to press the iron over the towel until the item is dry.
  8. Hang the item on a hanger
    Once the item is dry, remove it from the ironing board and hang it on a clothes hanger to finish drying completely by placing the hung item in a place with good airflow.

Ironing Clothes Dry Tips

Below we have listed a few tips to help you safely iron dry your wet clothes;

  • Always ensure the clothes are iron safe
  • Always remove as much excess moisture as possible
  • Always use a low heat setting on the iron
  • Only ever use gentle pressure when ironing
  • Keep the iron constantly moving, never concentrate on one spot for too long
  • Always hang the items up immediately after ironing
  • Never try to iron dry large, bulky items
  • Exercise patience, it can take a long time to dry some items
  • Take care using an iron around pets & children
  • Never leave a hot iron unattended
  • Only ever iron the towel, not the garments directly
  • You should iron from the middle outwards
  • Irons should be used in straight lines and not scrubbed back & forth.

Is It OK To Iron Clothes Directly From The Washing Machine?

Washing Machine

Whilst it is possible, in theory to iron clothes straight out of the washing machine, we wouldn’t recommend it. There are several reasons why this isn’t a good idea which include;

  • Clothes Are Usually Too Wet
    Even though the washing machine would most likely have ended on a spin cycle, the garments are still likely to be too wet to successfully dry with an iron.
  • Many Items Could Shrink
    The excessive heat and rapid loss of moisture could cause certain fabrics to shrink.
  • Too Much Water Vapour
    Ironing wet laundry causes lots of water vapour, it’s not so bad ironing a few items dry, but a whole wash load would create an incredibly damp environment. This could lead to breathing difficulties especially if you are suffering from COPD or asthma. As well as some potentially serious structural damage from issues associated with rot caused by damp conditions.

To safely iron your laundry as soon as it comes out of the washing machine, you will need to remove as much moisture as you possibly can either by running an extra spin cycle or by towel rolling or using a spin dryer.

Spin dryers have spin speeds in excess of 3000 RPM which is around twice the spin speed of a standard washing machine’s spin cycle. Of course you will need to ensure that any garments that you decide to iron dry are iron safe first.

It’s also worth remembering that ironing dry a whole wash load would take a considerable amount of time and energy. Working under those hot, damp conditions can be very tiring.

If possible we would recommend drying clothes using a more conventional method like a washing line or tumble dryer. Obviously, if ironing dry your lucky shirt before tomorrow’s big meeting is your only option, then it’s fine. However we wouldn’t recommend making a habit of it.

Can You Iron Dry Your Lucky Shirt?

As long as that shirt doesn’t say in the care label that it can’t be ironed, then yes, you can iron it dry. You will need to ensure it is as dry as possible before starting and remember to put the towels in place as well. Once you have finished ironing the shirt, it should be placed on a hanger and hung in an area with good airflow.

What Other Clothes Can Be Ironed Dry?

Once you’ve tried this technique on the odd item, you might be tempted to use it for other items. But what can you safely iron dry? You should not try to iron dry anything that’s too thick like denim for example.

Items that can be iron dried include;

  • Shirts
  • Blouses
  • Trousers
  • Skirts
  • Underwear

When drying skirts or trousers always be aware of the thickness of the garments. If the fabric is too thick you will not be able to successfully iron the item dry, no matter how much water you have extracted first.

Underwear is probably the easiest type of clothing to iron dry as generally underwear comprises of small items. However, if you wear silk or lace underwear, it is not advisable to iron these items dry.

It’s also worth pointing out that any of the above items which are made from polyester or one of the other synthetic fabrics will dry relatively quickly on their own. Which is a good thing when you consider that the heat from an iron is likely to damage them anyway.

Alternative Ways To Get Clothes Dry Quickly

If you need that particular item in a hurry it can be frustrating however, there are other ways to get a few items dry in a hurry. These include;

Using A Heated Clothes Airer

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  • The Glamhaus EcoDry heated clothes airer and cover provides you with a new, eco friendly way to dry your clothes - perfect for apartments and homes without a tumble dryer or washing line and is more energy efficient than tumble driers or placing laundry over your radiators which often leads to a build up of condensation in your home
  • Fully assembled and high quality superb lightweight design with versatile open-sided shelves that provide easier access allow you to make use of the full clothes dryer rack and even fold some of the shelves away when not required to take up even less space.

Clothes airers are a great way to get clothes dry indoors when the weather is too bad outside. Heated clothes airers are better still because they use an electrically powered heating element to heat the bars of the airer. This means the items of clothing get dry faster.

Many heated airers come supplied with a cover to keep the heat and moisture contained. If yours doesn’t have a cover, you can use a bedsheet to do the same thing.

Using A Hairdryer

As long as the item has had as much water removed as possible (try rolling it up in a towel), using a hairdryer is a good way to get a few small items dry in a hurry.

The trick is to keep the nozzle of the dryer at least a hand’s length away from the fabric and keep that nozzle moving at all times. This will prevent any one area getting too much heat which could cause scorch damage.

You’ll also need to concentrate on seams as these take extra drying due to their thickness. And remember to turn the item inside out to ensure you dry all sides.

Outdoor Air Drying

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Drying clothes outside on bright, breezy days is by far the best way to get them dry. Your clothes will smell fresher, feel softer and whites will be brighter. And the good thing is, when conditions are perfect for drying, it’s possible to get a full wash load dry in around 2 hours!

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

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use an iron on wet clothes?

You can iron dry some clothes as long as you have extracted most of the moisture from them first.

How do you dry clothes fast with an iron?

To dry clothes fast using an iron you need to ensure you have extracted as much water as possible first. This can be achieved by rolling the item up in a towel and gently pressing. The moisture is absorbed by the towel. Then lay another towel on your ironing board and place the item on top. Spread another dry towel on top of the item and then iron the top towel. The heat of the iron evaporates the remaining moisture which is absorbed by the towels.

Is ironing cheaper than tumble drying?

It is cheaper to iron dry clothes than to use a tumble dryer. However, it is far more time consuming and labour intensive to iron dry compared with tumble drying.

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