What Does ‘Delicates’ Mean on Dryer? A Comprehensive Guide (2023)

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what does delicates mean on dryer

1. The Meaning of “Delicates” on a Dryer

When you see the term “delicates” on a dryer, it refers to clothing items that are made from delicate fabrics or have intricate details that require special care during the drying process. Delicate fabrics include silk, lace, chiffon, satin, and cashmere, among others. These fabrics are more prone to damage and can easily shrink, stretch, or lose their shape if exposed to high heat or rough handling.

To ensure the longevity and quality of your delicate clothing items, it is important to follow the care instructions provided by the manufacturer. These instructions often recommend using the delicate setting on your dryer to minimize potential damage.

2. The Purpose of a Delicate Setting on a Dryer

The purpose of a delicate setting on a dryer is to provide gentle heat and airflow to protect delicate clothing items from excessive heat and agitation. This setting typically uses lower temperatures and slower tumbling speeds compared to other settings on the dryer.

By using the delicate setting, you can reduce the risk of shrinking or stretching delicate fabrics while still effectively drying them. It helps maintain the integrity of intricate details such as beading or embroidery that may be present on these garments.

3. How the Delicate Setting Differs from Other Settings on a Dryer

The delicate setting differs from other settings on a dryer in terms of temperature, tumbling speed, and duration of drying cycle. Here are some key differences:


  • The delicate setting uses lower temperatures compared to other settings.
  • This helps prevent damage to sensitive fabrics by reducing exposure to high heat.

Tumbling Speed:

  • The delicate setting uses slower tumbling speeds to minimize agitation.
  • Slower speeds help prevent delicate fabrics from getting tangled or stretched.

Drying Cycle Duration:

  • The delicate setting may have a longer drying cycle duration compared to other settings.
  • This allows for a more gradual and gentle drying process, reducing the risk of damage to delicate clothing items.

4. Specific Types of Clothing Labeled as Delicates for the Dryer


Silk is a delicate fabric that requires special care when drying. It is recommended to use the delicate setting on the dryer or air dry silk garments to avoid damage. The heat from a regular dryer can cause silk to shrink, lose its shape, or become wrinkled. To maintain the quality and longevity of silk clothing, it is important to follow the care instructions and treat them as delicates.


Lace is another type of clothing that should be labeled as delicates for the dryer. The intricate patterns and delicate threads of lace can easily get caught or snagged in a regular dryer cycle. Using the delicate setting helps prevent any damage to lace garments and ensures they retain their shape and beauty. It is also advisable to place lace items in a mesh laundry bag before putting them in the dryer to provide an extra layer of protection.

List of other specific types of clothing labeled as delicates:

  • Cashmere sweaters
  • Wool blends
  • Satin fabrics
  • Embroidered or beaded garments
  • Delicate lingerie

5. Consequences of Not Using the Delicate Setting for Delicate Clothing in the Dryer

Not using the delicate setting for delicate clothing in the dryer can lead to various consequences that may ruin your favorite garments. Some potential outcomes include:


Certain fabrics, such as cotton or wool, are prone to shrinking when exposed to high heat. Skipping the delicate setting increases the risk of shrinking clothes, resulting in an ill-fitting garment that may no longer be wearable.

Damage to Embellishments:

Delicate clothing often features embellishments like sequins, beads, or embroidery. These decorative elements can become damaged or detached in a regular dryer cycle. The delicate setting helps minimize the risk of such damage and ensures that the garments remain intact and beautiful.


Using a regular dryer cycle for delicate clothing can lead to excessive wrinkling. Delicate fabrics are more susceptible to creasing, and without the gentle treatment provided by the delicate setting, it may be challenging to remove these wrinkles completely.

List of consequences:

  • Shrinkage
  • Damage to embellishments
  • Wrinkling
  • Fading of colors
  • Loss of shape or elasticity

Please note that these consequences may vary depending on the specific fabric and garment type. It is always recommended to refer to the care instructions provided by the manufacturer for accurate guidance.

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6. Exceptions to Using the Delicate Setting for Clothing Labeled as Delicates

Factors to Consider

While the delicate setting on a dryer is generally suitable for most clothing labeled as delicates, there are certain exceptions to keep in mind. One important factor to consider is the fabric type. Some delicate fabrics, such as silk or lace, may require extra care and should not be subjected to the heat of a dryer, even on the delicate setting. It is best to consult the care instructions provided by the manufacturer or test a small inconspicuous area of the garment before using the dryer.

Another factor to consider is any embellishments or decorations on the clothing. Delicate items with sequins, beads, or embroidery may be prone to damage in a dryer, even on the delicate setting. These items may need to be air-dried or hand-washed instead. Additionally, garments with delicate buttons or zippers may also require special attention and should be checked before placing them in a dryer.

Tips for Alternative Drying Methods

  • If you have clothing labeled as delicates that cannot be dried in a dryer, consider air-drying them instead. Hang them up on a clothesline or drying rack in a well-ventilated area away from direct sunlight.
  • You can also use a towel to gently absorb excess moisture from delicate garments after washing them. Lay the item flat on a clean towel and roll it up tightly, pressing down gently to remove water without stretching or wringing.
  • In some cases, using a fan or dehumidifier in combination with air-drying can help speed up the drying process while still protecting delicate fabrics.

7. Alternative Methods for Drying Delicates Without a Dryer

Air-Drying Techniques

If you don’t have access to a dryer or prefer not to use one for drying delicates, there are alternative methods that can be just as effective. One option is air-drying, which involves hanging the garments up to dry naturally. To do this, find a well-ventilated area in your home or outdoors where you can hang the clothes without them touching each other.

Another air-drying technique is using a drying rack or clothesline. These allow you to hang the delicates individually, ensuring proper airflow and preventing any potential damage from contact with other items. Make sure to reshape the garments while they’re still damp to maintain their original shape.

Other Drying Alternatives

  • If you need to dry delicates quickly, consider using a hairdryer on its lowest heat setting. Hold the hairdryer at least six inches away from the garment and move it around constantly to avoid overheating any specific area.
  • In colder climates or during winter months, using an indoor drying rack near a heat source like a radiator can help speed up the drying process while maintaining gentle heat.
  • For delicate items made of silk or lace, laying them flat on a clean towel and gently patting them with another towel can help remove excess moisture without causing damage.

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8. Precautions to Prevent Damage When Using the Delicate Setting on a Dryer

Understanding the Delicate Setting

The delicate setting on a dryer is specifically designed for drying delicate fabrics such as silk, lace, and chiffon. It uses lower heat and gentler tumbling action to prevent damage to these fragile materials. However, it is still important to take certain precautions to ensure that your delicates are not damaged during the drying process.

Sorting and Loading Delicates Properly

Prior to using the delicate setting on your dryer, it is crucial to sort your delicates according to fabric type and care instructions. This will help you determine which items can be safely dried together. Additionally, make sure that all zippers are closed, hooks are fastened, and any loose threads or embellishments are secured before loading them into the dryer. This will minimize the risk of tangling or snagging during the drying cycle.

Furthermore, avoid overloading the dryer with too many delicates as this can lead to excessive wrinkling or inadequate drying. It is recommended to only fill the dryer drum up to 50-60% capacity when drying delicate items.

9. Typical Drying Time for Delicates on the Delicate Setting of a Dryer

Drying Time Factors

The drying time for delicates on the delicate setting of a dryer can vary depending on several factors:

  • Fabric Type: Different fabrics have different absorbency levels, which affects their drying time. For example, silk may dry faster than cotton.
  • Garment Thickness: Thicker garments like sweaters or blankets may take longer to dry compared to thinner items like lingerie or scarves.
  • Load Size: The amount of delicates being dried at once can impact the drying time. A larger load may require more time to dry thoroughly.
  • Humidity and Room Temperature: High humidity or cooler room temperatures can prolong the drying process.

On average, delicate items usually take around 20-30 minutes to dry on the delicate setting. However, it is important to periodically check the items during the drying cycle to prevent over-drying or potential damage.

10. Care Instructions and Guidelines for Drying Delicates in a Dryer

Read and Follow Garment Labels

Prior to drying your delicates in a dryer, it is crucial to read and follow the care instructions provided on the garment labels. These labels provide specific guidelines for washing and drying each item, including temperature settings, recommended detergents, and any additional precautions that need to be taken.

Using a Mesh Laundry Bag

To further protect delicate items during the drying process, consider placing them inside a mesh laundry bag. This will help prevent tangling or snagging with other garments or components of the dryer. It is particularly useful for lingerie, stockings, or items with intricate lacework.

Additionally, avoid using fabric softeners or dryer sheets when drying delicates as they can leave residue or cause damage to sensitive fabrics. Instead, opt for gentle detergents specifically formulated for delicate fabrics.

Lastly, if you are uncertain about whether a particular item should be dried in a dryer or not, it is always safer to air dry it instead. Hanging delicate garments on a clothesline or laying them flat on a clean towel will help preserve their shape and prevent any potential damage from heat or tumbling action.

In conclusion, the term “delicates” on a dryer refers to clothing items that require gentle care and should be dried using low heat settings to prevent damage.

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