Can You Dry Clothes in the Microwave?

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Microwaves are useful appliances that can help quickly warm up leftovers. Because of the amount of heat they produce, you may wonder if you can dry clothes in the microwave when your dryer is on the fritz. The short answer is yes, you can technically dry clothes in a microwave. But is it really a good idea?

Can you dry clothes in the microwave?

While it is possible to dry clothes in a microwave, it isn’t the best idea. Drying clothes in this way increases the risk of a fire hazard, and isn’t as efficient as you would think. Microwaves are designed for heating and cooking food, not for drying the various different types of material used to make clothing.

Cotton is a “microwave safe” fabric, which means clothing made from 100% cotton can be dried in the microwave, though it isn’t an efficient way to dry larger pieces of clothing. Synthetic materials, such as nylon and polyester, can actually melt if dried in the microwave.

What clothes can I dry in the microwave?

Cotton is usually the safest fabric to dry in the microwave since it is considered “microwave safe.” However, the results of drying cotton clothes in this way are probably not going to be as you expected. Microwaves merely heat up things, they don’t dry them. This leaves you with a wet yet overly hot piece of cotton fabric.

If you do decide to use the microwave to dry clothing, make sure you only use small articles of clothing made from 100% cotton. Things like a cotton washcloth, for example, can be safely dried this way. Make sure to take care when removing the item from the microwave as it can be extremely hot to the touch, and can even burn you.

Reasons why you shouldn’t dry clothes in the microwave

Microwaves are heaters, not dryers. This means they heat things up, including water. So, when you take your damp clothing out of the microwave, it will still be damp, just also extremely hot. Furthermore, microwaves also have the potential of ruining your clothing and the appliance itself.

1. Damages the Fabric

Microwaves can quickly turn your article of clothing into a melted mess. Even if you think you’ll be careful and watch the clothing while it’s drying in the microwave. By the time you notice the fabric is melting, it is already too late.

2. Ruin the Microwave

Since clothing is not considered microwave-safe, putting it in the appliance can quickly result in a ruined microwave. Furthermore, it could even void its warranty since clothing doesn’t belong in microwaves. Stick to using the microwave to cook food and not as a dryer.

3. Risk of a Fire

Some fabrics, such as spandex, are flammable. Tossing them in the microwave for a few minutes to dry can cause them to catch on fire and possibly burn down your home. In addition, a lot of clothing has metal zippers and buttons, and I’m sure you’re aware that metal and microwaves do not mix.

How to dry clothes without a dryer

Even if you don’t have a clothes dryer, there are still other ways to dry your clothes without using a microwave. The following tips are safer and more effective than using a microwave, and don’t pose a fire hazard.

1. Air Dry

One of the easiest, but not always the quickest, ways to dry clothes without a dryer is air drying them. This works best on warm days where you can hang the item outside.

But you can also dry the clothing indoors, even on the coldest of days. Indoor drying racks are available that can help you air dry all types and sizes of clothing. You can find drying racks at various online and physical stores.

If you don’t have a drying rack and don’t want to purchase one, you can use clothes hangers or curtain rods to drape the damp clothing over to help it dry faster.

2. Iron and Towel

If you’re looking to dry one to two things, this may be a quick option for you. Lay a towel out flat and then place the damp piece of clothing on top. Lay a second towel on top of the clothing and then iron.

The heat from the iron will help dry the clothing, while the towels will help absorb the moisture. The towels also help to protect the clothing from the direct heat of the iron.

Another option is to skip the iron and simply use a towel. Lay the towel out flat and then place the clothing on top. Then roll the clothing up in the towel. You may have to repeat this a few times and then let the article of clothing air dry for best results.

3. Hairdryer

The air that a hairdryer produces can help dry clothing more safely than a microwave. Use the low heat setting and then move the hairdryer back and forth in a slow, even motion to dry the clothing.

Make sure to get that air flowing into the sleeves, pockets, and other hidden areas. Avoid leaving any damp areas behind since this can increase the chance of mold and mildew growth.


While it may seem like a good idea in theory, you really shouldn’t dry clothes in the microwave. The potential risks to the microwave itself, as well as the clothing, just aren’t worth it.

Choose one of the other drying methods to safely and more effectively dry your clothing. Keep in mind, however, that most of the drying methods won’t work for entire loads of laundry.

The one exception is air drying. If you have loads of clothing you need to dry, either use the air dry method or take the clothing to a laundromat to dry. There are many microwave safe fabrics out there, but that doesn’t mean doing it is going to dry your clothes like you hoped.