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Leaving Clothes In Dryer Overnight: Is it ok? (+how long)

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We have all been there or are perhaps still there. The infinite amount of laundry, washing, drying, folding, ironing, and on and on it goes. Sometimes you end up with either a load in the dryer or a load to dry, and you’ve had it. You leave it in the dryer for the next day, the day after that, or the day after without thinking twice about it. 

Wet or dry, it’s generally ok to leave clothes in the dryer overnight. If the clothing is still wet the next morning, switch the dryer on to continue the drying process. Never leave wet clothes in the dryer longer than overnight as they can get moldy. Remove the items once they have dried.

Even though laundry is a never-ending chore, there are a few joys you do get out of doing the laundry, such as when stains miraculously wash out, or by not having to rewash or handwash items, and when it comes out of the dryer without needing to be ironed! Unfortunately, you can create extra work for yourself if you leave laundry in the dryer. Let’s look at what happens when you do. 

How Long Can I Leave My Clothes In The Dryer?

Since it is ok to leave your clothes in the dryer, your next question might be how long it can stay in there. 

This will depend on whether it is wet or dry. Wet clothing should not really be left in the dryer longer than overnight. Because a dryer is a dark and moist place with damp clothing in it, it is an invitation for bacteria to grow, and your clothes could quickly become moldy and smell.

That’s why you should not leave it in the dryer longer than 8 – 12 hours. After that, your clothing would become moldy with a strong odor of unpleasantness. And no matter how much you dry, there’s no going back from that stench unless you rewash it – and honestly, who’s got time for that! 

If you do have laundry to dry, but you’re going to bed soon, you can leave the wet laundry in your washing machine or pop in it the dryer and switch it on in the morning. 

Can I Fold Damp Clothes? (An Organizer Explains).

On the other hand, dry laundry can be left a little longer in the dryer. It might develop a smell to it, but it is highly unlikely if all the clothes had been thoroughly dried before leaving it in the dryer. 

One of the disadvantages of leaving dry clothes in the dryer is that it becomes pretty wrinkled, to the point that you would need to either iron it quite intensely or put the tumble dryer on for a few minutes to rewarm it with a few tumbles in the dryer. 

Alternatively, you can add a slightly damp towel to the dry laundry so there is a bit of moisture in the load, which will help take the wrinkles out. Then, follow the steps below for great results:

  1. Let it tumble: once you have placed the damp towel in the dryer together with the clothing, let it tumble for about 10 – 15 minutes. 
  2. Fold and fold some more: start to remove a few clothing items out at a time and fold or hang them on hangers. 
  3. A little trick: let the dryer continue to run while you are busy folding. This will keep the laundry left in the dryer from wrinkling. 
How to Dry Clothes FAST (Quick Method That Actually Works)
More on how to dry clothes fast here.

Can You Leave Laundry In Washer Overnight?

So, if it is ok to leave laundry in the dryer overnight, can I leave it in the washer overnight too? In March 2017, the Today show hosts had quite a debate on this topic, whether it is ok to leave laundry in the washer overnight. So, no one else but the domestic goddess of the 21ste age, Martha Stewart, called in to answer. 

She said that it is ok to leave laundry in the washer overnight and that it would be ok if you only dried it the following day. However, she also warns of not making a habit of it. 

And if Martha says it’s ok, then it is ok.

However, reiterating what she said, “Don’t make a habit out of it,” and the same goes for leaving laundry in the dryer overnight. You can so easily fall into the habit of leaving the laundry until right before going to bed or leaving it to dry the following day. 

In the long run, though, this can’t be good for your dryer or washing machine if you end up leaving it in there. Especially if you are not frequently cleaning your dryer and washing machine. Mold loves dark and moist places and can quickly gather and grow, and then you have a whole new problem on hand. 

Can I Leave My Dryer On Overnight?

So, if the washing is done before I go to bed, why can’t I quickly pop it in the dryer, switch it on and go to bed? Goodness! If you Google this, you will be bombarded with opinions that will make you want to hide in the laundry basket.  

Unfortunately, dryers are one of those high fire risk appliances. Clogged vents, ducts, and filters of fluff build-up can get exposed to the heating elements of your dryer and catch fire. 

So that is why it is not a good idea to leave the tumble dryer on overnight. According to National Fire Protection Association, in 2017, there were about 17 000 home clothes dryer fires per year. So rather be safe than sorry and don’t use your dryer overnight. 

Knowing this, you should really make an effort to clean your dryer regularly. In addition, ensure you clean the lint trap and check the venting tube for any fluff build-up. 

I wrote a guide specifically on how to clean your dryer vent here.

Tips For Keeping Your Dryer Clean

Cleaning your dryer might seem like just another chore that you don’t have time for, but it can only be to your advantage to do so. So here are a few tips on keeping it clean. 

  • Clean the lint trap. You will be shocked to see how fluff builds up after only one load.
  • Check and clean the venting tube for any fluff build.
  • Check the exhaust exterior to see if it is clear and if it’s not, clean it out. Remember, the hot air needs to go somewhere.
  • Weekly, vacuum or sweep up underneath and behind the dryer. The fluff is ridiculous.
  • Wipe the interior of your dryer. Tiny particles of dust and fluff sit there too.


Now that you know you can leave dry and wet clothing in the dryer overnight, you can go to bed without having nightmares about rewashing laundry in the morning. Switch on the dryer in the morning, and in a short while, you will have crisp and dry clothing.

Just remember to not leave the dryer on overnight or when you are out, for that matter and if you’re wondering if it has turned moldy, simply do the smell test. 

Here’s a guide on how to line dry your clothes that you can check out if you need to go to bed. I also have a guide on handwashing clothes if you just need some clothes for the next day.

Dry Clothes WITHOUT a Dryer (Using Indoors Drying Rack)
Here some more information on drying your clothes on a rack.


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