When to Use the Delicates & Knits Setting on a Dryer?

Updated February 21, 2017

Most electric and gas clothes dryers include a delicates or knits setting among their options. However, what this setting is for or which clothes require this special treatment is not always obvious. Using the wrong dryer setting could cause wrinkling or permanent damage in delicate fabrics while drying more durable clothes on the delicate setting could lengthen the drying process. Learning which setting to use for your clothes can help you do laundry more effectively and more efficiently.

Knit Cycle

Knit cycles are also called synthetic cycles or permanent press. At this setting, the dryer maintains a warm but not hot temperature that won't damage nylon, polyester, acrylic and synthetic blends. This setting can also work for natural fibre clothes at risk of shrinking. The synthetic cycle works best for outerwear and other regular-weight clothes. Remove synthetics from the dryer immediately after the cycle finishes, and hang or fold them. These fabrics wrinkle easily when left in the basket or dryer.

Delicate Cycle

The delicate cycle is sometimes also labelled for knits but maintains a much cooler temperature than cycles meant for regular-weight synthetic materials. Use your dryer's delicates setting for items labelled as "hand wash," woollen fabrics that can be machine washed and dried, heat-sensitive garments labelled as "tumble dry low," lingerie and other fragile clothing. Never dry these garments using higher heat as they may shrink, stretch or develop holes.

Cooldown Cycle

Some dryers include a cooldown cycle, which tumbles clothes at a steadily cooler temperature. This cycle can help with synthetics and other materials that wrinkle easily when exposed to heat. Run the cooldown cycle after drying your clothes to keep them from shrinking or wrinkling after the drying cycle ends.

Air Dry

Not everything that goes through the washing machine can survive a trip through the dryer. Throw rugs and bathmats with a rubber backing require air drying in most cases as do pillows and any clothes or decor items containing vinyl or foam rubber. Air dry all woollen materials not labelled for machine drying as well as cotton knits. Brassieres, pantyhose and other very delicate garments can either be air dried, or machine dried on the delicate cycle in a mesh lingerie bag. Never dry these clothes outside the bag as they may tangle or rip.

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About the Author

G.D. Palmer is a freelance writer and illustrator living in Milwaukee, Wis. She has been producing print and Web content for various organizations since 1998 and has been freelancing full-time since 2007. Palmer holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in writing and studio art from Beloit College in Beloit, Wis.