Selecting the correct dryer cycle

Published on
July 28, 2022 at 11:25:00 AM PDT July 28, 2022 at 11:25:00 AM PDTth, July 28, 2022 at 11:25:00 AM PDT

Previously, the basic function of a dryer was unchanged for decades: the injection of heated air to expel moisture from a load of wet fabrics. Then came the steam function to provide you with more options. Which dryer cycles are the best choices for caring for the different types of fabrics? If you use the same settings for each load, you’re likely not getting the best results.

Steam Cycle

A feature that creates steam within the drum is available on some dryer models. This function is great for refreshing clothes that aren’t soiled but could use a little wrinkle removal. The steam is independent of the drying cycle, which is not used during the steam process.

Air Dry Cycle

There is no added heat on this cycle. The dryer’s drum turns, simply using the room temperature air to fluff the fabrics. This cycle is also useful for freshening dry-clean-only garments.

Delicate or Gentle Cycle

Any garment that cannot withstand high heat should be dried using this setting. This includes any of these garment types:

  • Thin fabrics
  • Lacy fabrics
  • Athletic wear – These garments usually contain elastic and/or spandex, which shouldn’t be subject to high heat drying
  • Loosely-woven garments
  • Rayon, silk or linen fabrics
  • Fabrics embellished with beading, embroidery or iron-on decals

Choosing the delicate cycle will also help prevent the fading of colors.

Permanent Press Cycle

The permanent press cycle uses a medium level of heat and is ideal for most garments worn on a day-to-day basis:

  • Shirts
  • Blouses
  • Dresses
  • Pants
  • Jackets
  • Lightweight cotton
  • Outerwear

The permanent press cycle may include a 10-minute cool down period that uses room-temperature air to cool the fabrics. Cooling the temperature of the fabrics further aids in preventing wrinkles. A cooler fabric will not wrinkle as badly when folded as fabrics dried at a higher temperature.

Regular, Automatic or Timed Dry

This is the cycle for towels, sheets, sweats, and jeans. High heat is harsh on fabrics; choose it only for the strongest fabrics.

Whether you choose automatic dry that uses a moisture sensor to determine if your clothes are dry or select the amount of time you feel the clothes need, the regular cycle is going to use the highest heat setting available on your dryer.

The moisture sensor will only work efficiently if you keep it clean. Regular use of dryer sheets leaves a coating of residue that prevents the sensor from working, allowing clothes to overdry and increase utility bills. Dip a cotton swab in rubbing alcohol and give it a good cleaning every month.

Did You Know?

Dryer sheets not only prevent the sensor from working – they contain harmful chemicals that are transferred to the clothing and absorbed by your skin.

Learn more about “What dryer sheets do to you, your clothes and your dryer” at

Have you considered replacing your dryer sheets with Wool Dryer Balls? Learn more about Smart Sheep Wool Dryer Balls and the difference they make at

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