Can You Tumble Dry Burlap? (this is what it’ll do to hessian)

Burlap or hessian as it is also known is a natural fabric which is often made from the fibes of the jute plant. It is prone to shrinking or in some cases, disintegrating if it is exposed to water and heat.

Burlap should never be tumble dried because not only could it damage the burlap. There is also a strong possibility of the lint trap becoming full to overflowing due to the way burlap sheds its fibres.

It is always best to air dry burlap items to prevent them becoming damaged.

What The Tumble Dryer Symbols Mean On Burlap

Tumble Dryer Symbols On Clothes

All items made from material in the UK carry a wash care label. The label will have certain symbols which indicate how it should be washed and dried. 

There are 6 symbols that relate to tumble dryers many of which will never be found on any burlap item.

We have included them all for your information.

  1. Square With White Circle
    You can tumble dry
  2. Square With White Circle And One Black Dot In Circle
    This indicates you can dry on normal, low heat
  3. Square With White Circle And Two Black Dots In Circle
    This indicates you can dry normal, medium heat
  4. Square With White Circle And Three Black Dots In Circle
    You can dry normal, high heat
  5. Square With Black Circle
    You can dry normal, with no heat
  6. Square With White Circle And A Black X On Top
    Do not tumble dry this is probably the only symbol you’re likely to find on any burlap item.

How To Dry Burlap Without A Tumble Dryer

If your burlap item needs to be ironed, it is best to do so before the item dries completely.

The best way to dry burlap is to air dry it. We have found the best ways to dry your burlap items without causing them any damage. They are;

Using A Washing Line To Dry Burlap

You can hang your burlap items on a washing line, rotary line or a retractable clothesline.

Hang your burlap in the shade and keep out of direct sunlight unless you want it to become yellow in places.

Using A Clothes Horse (Airer) To Dry Burlap

You can either lay your burlap items flat on the rack of the airer or drape the burlap across the bars of the airer.

Clothes horses (AKA clothes airers) can be used outdoors on warm calm days or indoors when the weather is not conducive to outdoor drying.

If used indoors, the airer should be placed in a well ventilated room out of direct sunlight and not close to any heat source.

Tips For Faster Indoor Drying Of Burlap

Burlap can take 4 to 6 hours to fully dry depending on how much moisture there is in the atmosphere. You can help to speed up the process by employing one of the following;

  • Using an electric fan is a great way to speed up the drying time of burlap indoors. All you need to do is place the fan in the room with the drying burlap and direct the airflow towards the burlap. Make sure there is a window open to ensure a sufficient flow of air to allow the burlap to dry.
  • Using a dehumidifier will greatly reduce the drying time indoors. This is because dehumidifiers remove excess moisture from the air which will allow the burlap to dry faster.

What Happens If You Tumble Dry Burlap?

Always check the wash care labels

Due to the structure of the burlap fabric it is not advisable to tumble dry it. If you do tumble dry your burlap items you can expect;

The Burlap Can Shrink

The jute fibres that make burlap fabric are susceptible to shrinking if exposed to heat and water. These are the exact conditions found in a tumble dryer.

Which means it is never a good idea to tumble dry burlap.

The Lint Trap Could Become Blocked

Burlap sheds lots of fibres when washed, many of which will end up in the lint trap of your tumble dryer.

It is not impossible for the lint to clog the filter and cause damage to the dryer. In extreme cases tumble dryers have caught fire due to blocked lint filters.

The Burlap Can Tear

If the burlap is subjected to the rough treatment that is often associated with tumble drying, it could become weakened and tear.

As burlap is difficult to sew especially if it has become frayed, you would likely have to throw the item away.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it safe to put burlap in a tumble dryer?

It is not safe to put burlap in a tumble dryer. The burlap could shrink or tear and the lint filter on the tumble dryer could become blocked from the shedding fibres.

How can I dry burlap without a tumble dryer?

The best way to dry burlap is without a tumble dryer and by hanging it on a washing line or clothes horse.

Is hessian a burlap?

Hessian is the British name for burlap, they are one and the same thing.

Is jute and burlap the same thing?

Jute is a plant found mainly in India which is turned into a fibre that can be woven into material. Many jute items are called burlap in the US and hessian in the UK. Burlap can be made from jute, flax or other plant fibres.

Does burlap dry quickly?

It can take anywhere between 2-6 hours to dry burlap.

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