A dryer is a useful tool in the home. It can efficiently tumble your clothes and see them completely dry in under an hour compared to the hours it takes air-dried laundry. However, a dryer is not a perfect appliance, especially if it has become faulty or needs maintenance. One small malfunction and instead of drying some of your more delicate clothing, it ends up shredding it, or even trying to steal it away from you. If you find that your dryer is manifesting missing socks or has shredded all your delicates to a fine mesh of ragged string, here is what you need to do about it to stop your dryer from ruining any more clothing.
Check the Interior Drum
One cause of a dryer that has started ripping clothing is that the interior of your drum is damaged. This can be a common occurrence after you dried items that probably should not have been put in the dryer, typically hard items like shoes. The impact of these more solid items inside can damage the drum or break the fins. If these ragged edges are left alone, they will catch your clothing and that can manifest in rips. Even a small jagged edge is enough to rip a sturdy t-shirt.
In some cases, when you see the damage inside your dryer, it may be able to be sanded away, especially if it is on a bigger and harder to replace area like the drum itself. However, if the damage is to something like a fin, typically made from plastic and not so easily sanded down, you will want to replace the damaged part inside. This will keep your dryer from shredding anything else for a while as long as it remains undamaged.
Clean the Drum
If your laundry is coming out of the dryer dirty again, you very likely need to consider cleaning the drum. A common thing that can happen is people washy oily clothes, for example. The washer fails to remove that oil, but cold rinse water makes the remaining oil solidify back up on those clothes. The dryer then warms that oil again and it coats the inside of the drum. This can effect clothes for many uses afterwards.
You will want to scrub the inside of the drum with warm water and dish soap. You will then want to wipe it dry and spray it down again with white vinegar to help remove any soap residue. Finally, you will want to wipe it down with a clean cloth and let dry. You will likely be able to feel any greasy residue that is left, in which case you will need to repeat the process.
It is also worth noting that you will need to perform this cleaning on the washer as well. It is more adept at rooming oil from itself, but you still do not want the residue on your clothes.
Check the Lint Trap
In many models of dryer, the lint trap is in its own little alcove now. This helps prevent lost socks and also helps protect the filter in general. However, if you own a dryer where the lint filter is relatively exposed, you need to keep a watch over it. If the filter catches clothes or becomes warped so it does start catching clothes, it can damage the items that get caught up in it. Furthermore, the more out of alignment your filter is, the less it will do its job. This means that not only is more lint getting sent to your exhaust vent, but you will likely find a few small missing items in there too.
Unfortunately, the only thing you can really do is keep replacing the lint filter when you notice it is sticking out. If it happened to one lint filter, it will likely continue to happen to the new ones over time. You will need to be particularly diligent in checking the exhaust hose to make sure that too much lint doesn’t accidentally build up. An exhaust vent full of lint is the number one cause of dryer fires after all.
If you are looking for a permanent fix, your best bet is to look for a new dryer. Again, lint trapping technology has gotten better over time. Newer models see the lint trap protected so it does not get as easily damaged. It is also why lost socks are less of an issue these days too.
Check the Filter Compartment
You know how it goes when you toss your socks in the dryer, one pair goes in, one half of that pair comes out. The dryer eats socks — it was long thought to be a myth, but it is not. Your dryer and your washer too can take smaller items and lose them. In the dryer, in most cases, they end up in the filter compartment. This is a panel that you can remove either on the bottom or the side exterior of your dryer. It is different from your lint filter but serves a similar function. If you have never opened the compartment, you should. Even if you are not missing socks or other small items, the compartment likely needs to be cleaned out because it can accumulate lint. This lint can find its way back into the dryer or even become a fire hazard if left to build up for too long.
Prioritize Lower Heat
If you want to keep your clothes lasting longer, it involves concentrated effort when cleaning them. The washer is responsible for the bulk of the wear on your clothing, but your dryer contributes too. This isn’t so much a maintenance task to help prevent your dryer from wearing down clothes, but more of a helpful piece of advice. The higher the heat of your dryer, the more strain it puts on your clothing. It will wear them down faster. This means if you really want to keep something you cherish looking nice, you will want to use a lower heat.
This is also why very delicate clothing recommends air drying. Tumbling causes its own wear, but heat is a major contributor.