Clothes dryers have a pretty clear mission: to dry your freshly washed clothes. But modern dryers offer a laundry list of features that go well beyond that basic capability.
Don’t, however, attempt to use your dryer to defrost a frozen-solid turkey, as was once attempted by the characters in the Fox network sitcom “New Girl.” Hint: It didn’t end well for the turkey, the dryer or the apartment.
Instead, here are several things that a clothes dryer actually can do.
1. Prevent or minimize wrinkles
No time to iron? Whirlpool notes that you can cut down wrinkles in your clothing by simply using the permanent press setting of your dryer.
Use this setting on synthetic fabrics and natural fibers that wrinkle easily, as it uses medium heat and a cool-down period to keep your clothes from wrinkling.
2. Refluff a down comforter
A down comforter offers soft and snuggly sleep, but with use, it can deflate and flatten. A dryer can refluff it for you.
If your home dryer isn’t big enough, you might need to head to your nearest laundromat to use one of their industrial-size dryers. Size matters here because you need a dryer big enough to let your comforter freely toss and tumble.
The Company Store suggests tossing in a few wool dryer balls to help the comforter’s filling de-clump. If you don’t own any, a few tennis balls knotted inside clean white socks will also work.
3. Destroy bacteria
Check the cycles on your dryer — you likely have a “sanitize” cycle, but perhaps you’ve never known when to use it.
It’s especially useful when someone in your family has been sick, and you want to make sure those germs don’t linger in their bedding or clothing. According to GE Appliances, the sanitize cycle reduces certain types of bacteria by 99.9%.
4. Remove pet allergens
I’m allergic to cats, yet there’s no way my family is giving up our two furry feline members. An article in the journal Asthma and Allergy Proceedings discusses a study in which researchers gathered pet allergens and tested how effective washers and dryers were at removing them from household items.
Paw-some news: The study found that cleaning items in a washing machine with detergent helped remove most pet allergens from fabrics. And if washing is difficult for a specific case, using just a dryer can be an alternative choice (though for some reason, it works better for dog allergens than those from cats).
5. Eliminate bedbugs
Just the thought of a bedbug infestation can create nightmares. The nasty little pests feed on human blood, and they can live inside your mattress, pillows, blankets and clothing. Experts at the University of Minnesota’s Department of Entomology, however, have an answer.
The university recommends washing and drying your clothing and bedding items to rid yourself of bedbugs, noting that while washing gets some of them, it’s the heat of your dryer that kills off the rest. Use the hottest dryer temperature your clothes can stand. If the clothes aren’t dirty, just buggy, give them 30 minutes in the dryer on high heat.
6. Dry your shoes quietly
Sports, camping and hiking can mean your athletic shoes end up a muddy mess. Once you’ve washed them, you may want to use the dryer to get them back in wearing rotation.
But unlike clothes, shoes are solid, and they’ll bang around in your dryer like someone’s giving a drum solo in there. One way to avoid this is to use a dryer rack – your dryer might have come with one, or you can purchase it separately.
Shoe company Nike advises using low heat, so as not to damage your shoes. And if you don’t have a rack, Nike suggests suspending the shoes inside the dryer by closing the door on their shoelaces, or tying them together and putting them in a mesh bag for drying.