Do clothes dry faster if you put a dry towel in the dryer? Experts have their say

A dry towel could be the secret to quicker laundry loads, experts say

A wicker landry basket with white washing piled up inside
(Image credit: Getty Images)

One of the more frustrating parts of laundry is waiting for our clothes to dry, especially when there is something in there we are anxious to wear again. Luckily, there is an abundance of internet hacks that promise to help speed up the drying process, such as putting a dry towel in the dryer – but does this really work? And if so, why? 

When it comes to doing laundry, trying to dry clothes quickly is essential not only to our schedules but making sure to banish musty odors and preserve their freshly washed scent. 

Here, we have asked experts to explain if a dry towel in the dryer really helps wet clothes dry faster so you can get that annoying chore off your to-do list in a little less time.

Do clothes dry faster if you put a dry towel in the dryer?

Laundry room with wheeled baskets and towel rails

(Image credit: Future / Carolyn Barber)

Although there are plenty of things you should not put in a dryer, an already dry towel is not one of them, says Laura Avila, professional cleaner and owner of Cleaning Fan. ‘Adding a dry towel to the dryer really can help clothes dry more quickly! 

'The towel absorbs some of the moisture from the wet clothes, which reduces the overall drying time,’ she explains. There are plenty of laundry hacks to save time floating around the internet, so why does this dry towel trick work so well? Well, it is down to the process of absorption, Laura Avila explains. ‘An added dry towel absorbs moisture from the wet clothes, which reduces the amount of water that the dryer has to remove as it heats up, she says. ‘This means that the dryer can work more efficiently and dry the clothes faster.

‘Additionally, the dry towel helps to create more air space in the dryer, breaking up big bundles of soaking clothes which allows hot air to circulate more freely and helps to speed up the drying process.’

Laura Avila
Laura Avila

Laura Avila, the cleaning enthusiast, has years of cleaning experience, and now provides practical tips to her clients on how to maintain a clean and organized home. 

How to use a towel to speed up drying

bathroom with bath and sink with vanity and towels on shelves

(Image credit: Future / Emma Lewis)

This cleaning tip is not as simple as throwing any towel into the dryer, however, warns laundry expert Matt Connelly, founder and CEO of cleaning service IHateIroning. For example, this is not a hack to be using your best towels for, and it is important that you use your towels correctly if you have invested in them.

‘Towels can be made from a range of different materials, with some higher-end towels made from Turkish or Egyptian cotton. We advise that you stray away from using luxury towels for this drying hack to avoid the risk of having the fibers turn rough in the drying process,’ Matt says. ‘Your usual terry-cloth towels should do the trick perfectly.’ It should also go without saying that using a dirty towel is not a good idea either, Matt adds, to help prevent a transfer of dirt, bacteria, and germs. 

‘Take the towel out after 15-25 minutes as, after a set amount of time, your towel will become damp from the moisture it has absorbed from your other items,’ he adds. ‘Keeping it in your dryer for the entire length of your cycle can actually contribute to adding the dampness back into your clothes and slow the drying process down.’

Leighton Bath Towel | $38 at Anthropologie

Leighton Bath Towel | $38 at Anthropologie
This plain cotton towel is perfect for both your spa-like bathroom and speeding up your dryer. You can get a matching hand towel size, too.


Will clothes dry in the dryer if they are soaking wet?

Although your dryer is designed to help dry wet clothes, clothes that are soaking wet can take hours to dry in a tumble dryer – especially if it is made up of heavier garments and large linens. Longer drying times can result in the development of mold or mildew in the humid environment of the dryer, or persistent damp smells even once the clothes are dry. 

What do I do if my laundry is too wet?

If your laundry is soaking wet after finishing its final spin in the washing machine, it may be for a few reasons. It may be that you have overfilled the washing machine, making it harder for water to drain, your machine may not be sitting level on the floor, or you may not have cleaned out the filter recently. Soaking wet clothes can be put on a final, fast spin and drain cycle to help remove a little more water before putting the clothes into the dryer. 

So, adding a dry towel to your tumble dryer seems like a win-win when it comes to speeding up laundry after all. Not only do you get fresh clothing with less energy, but you get a fluffy warm towel at the end of it too.

This is certainly a laundry lesson we will be taking on, will you? 

Chiana Dickson
Content Editor

Chiana has been at Homes & Gardens for two years, having started her journey in interior journalism as part of the graduate program. She spends most of her time producing content for the Solved section of the website, helping readers get the most out of their homes through clever decluttering, cleaning, and tidying tips – many of which she tests and reviews herself in her home in Lancaster to ensure they will consistently deliver for her readers and dabbles in the latest design trends. She also has a first-class degree in Literature from Lancaster University.