Care Clothes

What Does Tumble Dry Low Mean?

As a busy parent, anything you can do to make life easier and quicker around the house in a god-send.

While parents have mixed thoughts on the need for gadgets like bottle warmers, you’ll be hard pressed to find anyone that doesn’t agree that a tumble dryer can save a lot of time and effort when drying baby clothes.

This is especially true when you need to quickly wash and dry bedding or clothes that your little one may have soiled or spilt food on.

The labels on many kid’s (and adult’s) clothing have labels that advise drying on a low heat, so you may therefore be wondering what does the low setting on a dryer actually mean?

Let’s take a look.

What Is Tumble Dry?

Tumble dry is an alternative way to dry clothing compared to air drying.

When you use a tumble dryer, you use a machine to dry your items, rather than drying them on a clothes rack or line.

This can save considerable time and can be very convenient when you need to quickly wash and dry your child’s bedding if they’ve had an accident for example.

Having access to and using a dryer may also mean you don’t need to buy as many bibs, blankets, bed sheets and other items that need to be regularly washed.

Given how quickly babies dirty their clothes with food or poop, and that baby clothes and other soft items like loveys should be washed before use, many parents find these dryers to be highly convenient, time-saving devices they can’t imagine living without.

Tumble Dry Low Meaning

Let’s now explain what two common terms actually mean.

“Tumble dry low” means you should dry your item on a low heat setting in your dryer.

A “low heat” in a dryer is typically around 125 degrees Fahrenheit (50 degrees Celsius).

This setting is designed for items that are made from delicate fabrics, which we will cover shortly.

Using a low heat setting will help ensure your clothes retain their fit and don’t shrink, which can be an issue if items are dried at too high a heat.

When Should You Use The Low Heat Setting On A Dryer?

You should use the low heat setting on your dryer when:

  • The label says dry on a low heat.
  • The item is delicate and you are worried about it shrinking or losing its shape.
  • The item is made out of polyester, wool, nylon or velvet.
  • The item is made from loosely woven fabrics or has some other delicate feature, such as beading, sequins and anything that has been ironed-on (like a sports jersey logo).
  • You are not trying to get rid of a poop stain – after washing soiled clothing it’s better to let the items dry naturally.
  • If you are not in a rush, then you may want to use the low setting for all other garments, like those made from cotton (or organic cotton).

Tumble Dry Low vs Delicate

Frustratingly, not all appliances use the same names or descriptors for their settings, which leads to a lot of confusion over what setting is tumble dry low.

Both the tumble dry low and delicate settings are similar in that they use a lower level of heat to prevent items from getting damaged.

If your machine has both these settings, it’s better to go for the low setting, but generally both settings should result in a cycle at a low temperature.

Some machines also have a setting called “synthetic”, which should also use a low heat when drying your clothes.

See Also: The Complete Guide To Buying & Caring For Baby Clothes

Does Tumble Dry Low Shrink Clothes?

It’s important to follow the care instructions on the label so you don’t end up with any items that shrink when tumble dried.

Heat typically damages the fibres in garments, which results in shrinkage.

For this reason, the lower the heat setting, the less likely it is that your clothes will shrink.

Keep in mind that using a lower heat will mean it takes longer for your clothes to dry, but at the same time you should avoid over drying, as this may eventually cause shrinking or a loss of color (more on this shortly).

Tumble Dry vs Spin-Dry

You might be wondering whether tumble dry is the same as spin-dry.

These are in fact two different drying methods as explained below:

  • Spin-dry is a washing machine setting that removes excess water without using heat by spinning the items in your machine. Your washing is therefore likely to come out damp, but not completely dry.
  • Tumble dryers use heat to remove all the excess water from your laundry, unless of course you’ve selected the “no heat” setting.

How Long To Tumble Dry Low

Using a tumble dryer on a low heat setting will mean it takes longer to dry the clothes compared to a higher heat setting.

It is difficult to say exactly how long you should dry your laundry for, as it depends on the size of the load and how wet the items were before they went into the machine.

In general it’s a good idea to stop the machine every so often to check how dry the clothes are.

This will prevent you over drying your laundry, which could cause shrinkage, color fading and result in using (and paying for) more energy than you need.

Tori is mama to 3 year old Isabella and co-founder of Rockinbaby. She has a BSc in Psychology, is a certified yoga teacher and is a working mom. In her free time Tori loves cooking delicious foods and baked treats, entertaining and working out. Learn more about Tori here.

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