Tested! Can You Put Soaking Wet Clothes in the Dryer?

So maybe I just have a crappy washing machine, but occasionally, it does a bad job of wringing out my clothes.

And I mean a really bad job. They’re basically still soaking wet. So then I make the washer do another spin cycle, and the second time around it usually turns out fine.

But then I’ve wondered – can I put my soaking wet clothes straight into the dryer? So I tested it.

It’s best not to place soaking wet clothes directly into the dryer, since pooling water can damage the internal mechanisms of the dryer, and the extra water weight will increase the wear and tear on the machine. However, wringing out the clothes by hand will usually remove enough water to make the clothes dryable.

But I learned a lot more than that, so keep reading!

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Why You Shouldn’t Put Dripping Clothes into the Dryer

Technically, you can put soaking wet clothes into the dryer. You just shouldn’t.

Clothes that are actively dripping water are the most dangerous to try to dry, since when the drum spins, that extra water will fly around the dryer. Some water might make its way into the internal components of the dryer, which would immediately break it.

Not ideal.

That’s the first and largest issue with putting soaking wet clothes in the dryer.

But the weight of the clothes is another issue. Sopping wet clothes are heavy, and your residential dryer wasn’t built to handle that on a regular basis.

Regular washing of soaking clothes will add excess strain on the ball bearings of the machine, and you’ll find yourself making repairs to the dryer sooner than you would have otherwise.

Finally, drying sopping wet clothing takes a lot more energy than drying damp clothing because there is so much more water to evaporate. Your dryer will run significantly longer to get the clothes dry, which will cost you a pretty penny when that bill finally comes.

And if you have your dryer on a timed dry cycle, it might not get the clothes dry at all, which will result in musty clothes if you don’t catch it in time. That’s not great either.

Drying Soaking Wet Clothes – An Experiment

So regardless of how my experiment turns out, it’s really best not to dry soaking clothes in the dryer on a regular basis.

But CAN you? If you’re really desperate, can it be done?

Let’s find out.

The Setup

I’ve got a small load of laundry here. Note the term “small load.” I don’t want to damage my dryer with extra weight, so I’m only experimenting with a load I know it can handle, even when sopping wet.

Small load of laundry

I’ll dry this load twice, first after dipping in water and very lightly wringing out each item by hand.

I love you all, but I don’t want to damage my dryer, so I want to make sure the clothes aren’t actively dripping. But don’t worry, they’ll still be soaking wet.

The second time I dry this load, it’ll be after it went through a normal washing cycle.

Then we’ll compare the time it took for the clothes to dry – that’s if they ever did actually dry!

The Experiment

I started by dipping my clothes in a bucket of water, then lightly wringing them out. I weighed the hamper of clothes just so we could see the water weight difference between the two loads:

Wet clothes weigh eight pounds

The sopping wet load weighed 8 pounds.

Then the clothes went into the dryer. Using the “sensor” setting on my dryer, they took 95 minutes to dry.

Part two ran the clothes through a rinse and spin cycle in my washing machine. Once again, I weighed the clothes and laundry basket after, just to see what difference the spin cycle made:

Damp clothes weigh 4.1 pounds.

Funny enough, the damp clothes were so light that they didn’t trigger my normal scale, so I had to switch to a kitchen scale.

They weighed 4 pounds, 1.6 ounces (I feel like I’m introducing you to a baby.) In other words, 4.1 pounds, and about half the weight of the wet clothes.

Then I dried the clothes.

The Results

The sopping wet clothes took 95 minutes to dry, while the damp clothes took 21 minutes to dry.

Big difference.

The wet clothes took over four times longer to dry than the damp clothes. And that was with a small load where the clothes had plenty of room to move around in the dryer.

I can’t imagine how long a full load of sopping wet clothes would take.

All this to say, if you have a small load and you’re willing to wring the clothes a bit so that they’re not actively dripping, you can dry soaking wet clothes, it’ll just take longer and waste more energy.

I wouldn’t make a habit of doing that though, since it is still tougher on your dryer than drying damp clothes.

And keep in mind that most washing machines have “spin cycle” capabilities. This allows you to run a spin cycle without having to wash an entire load, and that will get most of the water out.

If that’s not an option, you can hand-wring the clothes, or set them out to air-dry for a few hours (maybe in a bathtub if they’re dripping) before tossing them in the dryer.

It takes a bit longer, but buying a new dryer because you killed the one you have would be even worse.

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