You should see the big wad of lint I just plucked from the lint trap of my clothes dryer. Ack! Where does all of that stuff come from? I know I emptied all the pockets, and I'm certain I did not wash a bag of pillow stuffing.
Drying clothes causes them to shrink -- and not only the first time they're washed. Sleeves and pant legs continually get shorter and shorter when machine dried improperly.
There are tactics to counteract the abuse suffered by a clothes dryer, and you don't have to go back to the days of sheets frozen stiff on the clothesline. Rest assured, you don't have to machine dry your clothes to death to end up with comfy jeans and fluffy, soft towels.
Get the soap out. Residual detergent in fabrics causes them to feel rough. Add 1/2 cup white vinegar to the last rinse. This will help remove the residual detergent from the fabrics. Even when air dried, they will be softer.
Semi-dry. Never machine dry clothes -- especially jeans -- completely. Ten to 15 minutes is sufficient for most items to remove the major wrinkles.
Hang from the ankles. Remove partially dry jeans and all other pants from the dryer and hang them by the hems on pant hangers equipped with clothespins or clamps. The weight of the pant will pull the fibers into place and keep the pants from getting shorter every time you launder them.
Step away from the dryer. Any item that has a rubber backing, like a bath rug, should never come in contact with the
Emergency sped dry. When you need something to dry in a big hurry, here's a great tip: Place the wet item and one dry bath towel in the dryer. Set to dry on the highest temperature safe for that particular item. You will have dry jammies (or whatever) in less than half the time because the towel will absorb a great deal of the moisture.
Don't kill the spandex. Fabrics that contain spandex, latex or elastic or have painted or silk-screened logos should not meet the heat of a clothes dryer. Even the elastic in pajamas, underwear and so on will break down quickly if dried on "hot." Make sure you always read the labels to determine fabric content and laundering instructions. Get a portable drying rack or install a few extra towel bars so you can air dry these more delicate types of fabric.
Email Mary Hunt at mary@every daycheapskate.com or write to Everyday Cheapskate, P.O. Box 2099, Cypress, Calif. 90630.