What Temperature Should You Dry Clothes With In A Tumble Dryer?

Tumble dryers are great for drying clothes especially when the weather’s bad outside. However, you need to use it correctly to ensure your clothes get dry without getting damaged.

If you’re unsure of the correct drying temperature for your clothes, keep reading. In this article we share the correct temperature needed to safely dry your clothes.

How Can You Tell What Temperature Setting Your Clothes Should Be Tumble Dried At?

With all clothes, the first thing you should do before washing or drying is check the care label. 

Clothes manufacturers put care labels in their clothes to help you get the best from them and ensure they last for a good while.

On the care label you will find symbols for various things like ironing and tumble drying.

Tumble Dryer Symbols

The symbol for a tumble dryer is a square with a circle inside. But that’s just part of the story, in fact there are 6 tumble dryer symbols used on wash care labels. 

Each particular symbol gives the best practice for tumble drying that particular garment. The symbols for tumble dryers run as follows;

Tumble Dryer Symbols On Clothes
  • Square with a white circle
    The square with a white circle is the symbol that indicates that the garment can be tumble dried.
  • Square with a white circle with one black dot in the circle
    The square with a white circle with one black dot in the circle indicates that the item can be tumble dried on a normal setting at low heat.
  • Square with a white circle with two black dots in the circle
    The square with a white circle with two black dots in the circle shows that the item can be dried on a normal setting using medium heat.
  • Square with a white circle with three black dots in the circle
    This symbol indicates that the item can be dried using high heat.
  • Square with a black circle
    The square with a black circle indicates that the garment can be tumble dried but using no heat. This symbol is to show that it’s OK to freshen the item up but not dry it completely.
  • Square with a white circle with a black X on top
    The square with a white circle with a black X on the top symbol means do not tumble dry. This means you can’t use a tumble dryer even to freshen the garment up.

For more information on tumble dryer symbols on clothes click here.

What Is The Best Temperature To Use To Dry Clothes In A Tumble Dryer?

It might seem slightly confusing at first because surely the highest temperature will get clothes dry fastest. 

Well, that’s true, however in many cases, having the temperature too high is likely to damage some of  your clothes. Apart from too much heat causing some clothes to shrink, certain fabrics can even melt if exposed to too much heat!

Added to which higher heat settings mean more energy usage which means higher utility bills. Plus using more energy has an environmental impact as well.

What Clothes Can Be Tumble Dried At Which Temperature Setting?

To prevent your clothes from shrinking or getting damaged, you need to follow the care label’s advice. And you’ll need to know the tumble dryer setting needed for the different types of fabrics in your wash.

Tumble Dryer Temperature SettingClothing/Fabric Type
No HeatKnitwear, delicate items (wool, silk, satin)
Low HeatFabrics that Stretch (gym wear, Lycra, leggings, baby clothes)
Medium HeatCotton and poly-cotton blends (t-shirts, shirts, jerseys)
High HeatHeavy items (towels etc)

Not all tumble dryers have those four settings, or they could be worded differently. They could look like this;

  • Air Dry = No Heat
  • Gentle = Low Heat
  • Permanent Press = Medium Heat
  • Cotton = High Heat

Heavy Fabrics & Cottons

These heavy weighted fabrics can take far longer to dry than other clothes. We recommend keeping these items together and drying on the high heat setting.

Depending on the make and model of your tumble dryer, drying times can vary. However, after a few uses, you’ll have a better idea on timings.

You’ll need to pay particular attention to certain types of jeans. 100% cotton jeans can be safely dried using the high heat setting. However, stretch jeans are better suited to be dried on a low heat setting along with other stretchy clothes.

Alternatively, you could put stretch jeans in with regular jeans but remove them before they dry completely. But it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Synthetic & Blended Clothes

This category covers a wide range of fabrics and clothing. There are many clothes made from fully synthetic or a blend of synthetics and cotton.

As they are all similar in weight they can all be dried on a medium heat setting.

Clothes That Stretch

Stretchy materials like elastane, Lycra, leggings and sportswear can easily become damaged if exposed to high temperatures. Which is why they should be dried on a low heat setting.

Baby Clothes

As baby clothes are much smaller than adult clothes, they dry faster. Which is why we recommend drying baby clothes separately on a low heat setting.

Some baby clothes can be dried on a medium heat setting but they should always be dried using the delicate setting (if your tumble dryer has one).


Overall, it’s better to keep knitted items out of a tumble dryer as they should always be air dried whilst laying flat. Wool should always be air dried because the heat and rough and tumble action of the tumble dryer can cause woollen garments to shrink.

It is possible to tumble dry lighter knitwear using the no heat setting, but as a general rule, knitwear is best kept out of the tumble dryer.

Delicate Fabrics

Delicate fabrics like lace, silk or satin and underwear, should all be tumble dried on a low heat setting. This applies to all garments that are made using any elastic which can lose its elasticity if exposed to high temperatures.

Really delicate items should be air dried on a flat surface to prevent them becoming damaged or misshapen due the rough action of the tumble dryer.

How Hot Does A Tumble Dryer Get?


The hottest temperature that the average tumble dryer can reach is around 75 C (167 F). However, most only usually achieve a high of 60 C (140 F).

At the other end of the spectrum is absolutely no heat at all which is the setting that should be used for delicate items. This will run at room temperature so its temperature can vary according to the season and the temperature of the room.

In between there’s the medium setting which averages at around 65 C (149 F). And low which averages at around 55 C (131 F).

It’s worth bearing in mind that drying clothes on the low setting can take up to twice as long to dry as if you were using the high heat setting.

Why Do Some Tumble Dryers Run Too Hot?

If you think your tumble dryer is running too hot and your clothes are being subjected to temperatures that are likely to damage them. There are a few things that could be causing this increase in temperature.

These include;

  • Restricted Air Flow 
  • Faulty Thermostat
  • Faulty Heating Element

Restricted Air Flow

If the air flow in your tumble dryer becomes blocked, it can lead to the internal temperature rising to such a degree that it causes a fire. 

To prevent your tumble dryer from overheating, be sure to clean the lint filter after every use. 


If you have a vented tumble dryer, you should check the vent hose regularly as this can become clogged over time. You should be able to keep it clear using a vent cleaning kit.

Faulty Thermostat

If the thermostat develops a fault, it can cause the dryer to run too hot. In most tumble dryers the thermostat is relatively easy to replace. 

If you’re into DIY, you might want to have a go yourself, or contact a qualified engineer to do it for you.

Faulty Heating Element

Sometimes, the heating element can become warped which can cause the dryer to overheat. If this is the problem, it’s definitely time to call in an engineer.

Frequently Asked Questions

What setting should I use on my tumble dryer?

The setting you should use on your tumble dryer depends on what you are trying to dry. Check the care label to see whether the garment can be tumble dried and on which setting. Look for the square with a circle symbol. This indicates the setting that should be used. If the circle is filled in you should tumble using no heat, one dot indicates tumble drying using low heat, two dots indicates medium heat, three dots indicates high heat. If there is a X on top of the symbol it indicates that the item should not be tumble dried.

Is it better to dry clothes on low or high heat?

It takes longer to dry clothes at a lower heat which means the dryer has to work longer to dry your clothes. However, tumble drying on a low heat setting is better for the fabric.

What temperature should I dry my clothes so they don’t shrink?

The best temperature to dry your clothes at to prevent them from shrinking is the low heat setting. If your dryer doesn’t have that setting, select delicate or gentle.

What temperature should clothes dry in the dryer?

Different clothes need different temperature settings to dry. For instance; towels and jeans should be dried on a high heat setting, t-shirts etc should be dried on a medium heat setting whilst stretchy Lycra, elastane, leggings and sportswear should be dried on the low heat setting.

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