Soaked shoes? It’s a situation many have encountered. “Can you put shoes in the dryer?” is a question that arises frequently. Making the right choice isn’t just about speedy drying but ensuring the longevity of your footwear. This article sheds light on the do’s and don’ts of this common dilemma.
Can You Put Shoes in the Dryer?
Many individuals are faced with the dilemma: can you put shoes in the dryer? The short and straightforward answer is yes, but with caveats. Not all shoes are built the same, and what works for one pair might be disastrous for another. While the convenience of quickly drying shoes in the dryer is appealing, one must always consider the type of shoe, its construction, and the potential risks involved.
Type of Shoe: Everyday sneakers, running shoes, and most athletic shoes, generally made of synthetic materials and fabrics, can typically handle the dryer’s environment, especially if the correct precautions are taken. However, shoes made from delicate materials, such as leather or suede, should be kept far from the dryer, as the heat can cause warping, shrinkage, and other damage.
Construction: Shoes that are predominantly glued (rather than sewn) are at a higher risk in the dryer. The heat can weaken the adhesive, causing soles to separate or other parts to come undone. Moreover, shoes with added components, such as LED lights or other electronics, should never be put in the dryer.
Potential Risks: Beyond the immediate concerns of warping and material damage, using the dryer can sometimes lead to longer-term issues. Shoes that are frequently subjected to the dryer’s heat might have a shortened lifespan, with materials breaking down faster than if they were air-dried.
Benefits: With the above warnings in mind, there’s no denying the convenience. On rainy days or when time is of the essence, using the dryer can be a lifesaver. It’s especially useful for those without the luxury of outdoor space or for those living in humid environments where air drying can take a significantly longer time.
How to Dry Your Shoes in the Dryer
1. Check the Shoe’s Material
Every shoe is crafted with different materials, and understanding them is vital before using the dryer. Leather, for instance, is vulnerable to heat; it can warp, shrink, or even crack when exposed to the high temperatures of a dryer. Similarly, synthetic materials like certain plastics could melt or deform under such conditions.
Canvas or cloth shoes are typically more resilient and might be better candidates for drying in this way. Always refer to the label or manufacturer’s guidelines to determine if the shoe material is dryer-safe. It’s better to air on the side of caution than to risk ruining your favorite pair.
2. Remove Insoles and Laces
Insoles and laces can have a different composition from the rest of the shoe, which means they could react differently to heat. By removing the insoles, you ensure more even drying from the inside out. Laces, being slender, might dry quicker than the shoe itself, so taking them out prevents over-drying.
Additionally, removing laces can prevent them from getting tangled or knotted in the dryer. Lay laces flat on a towel, and they will likely dry long before your shoes are done.
3. Clean Excess Mud or Dirt
Damp shoes can easily accumulate mud or dirt, especially if you’ve had a minor outdoor mishap like stepping into a puddle. Before placing shoes in the dryer, ensure they’re free from large clumps of dirt. Not only will this prevent the inside of your dryer from becoming filthy, but it will also enable more efficient airflow and drying inside the shoe. Using a soft brush or cloth, gently remove any adhered mud or debris.
4. Use Dry Towels for Balance
If you’ve ever dried shoes in a dryer without precautions, you know the loud, tumbling thud they can produce with each rotation. To counteract this, wrap your shoes in dry towels or add several dry towels to the mix. These towels serve a dual purpose.
Firstly, they cushion the shoes, preventing that loud banging noise. Secondly, the absorbent nature of the towels helps to pull moisture away, speeding up the overall drying process. Just ensure the towels are old or ones you don’t mind using for this purpose, as they can get dirty or worn from the shoes.
5. Utilize a No-Heat or Low-Heat Setting
While the main goal is to dry your shoes, safety and care should be the priority. Excessive or direct heat can compromise the integrity of the shoe material, leading to issues like shrinkage, warping, or even melting. Using a no-heat (air fluff) setting is the safest, though it takes the longest.
If you’re in a hurry, a low-heat setting can be used, but you should frequently check the shoes to ensure they’re not getting too hot. Remember, it’s about drying the shoes, not cooking them.
6. Use the Dryer Door Shoe Method (If Available)
Not everyone is aware of this ingenious trick that can help shoes dry without causing a ruckus. If your dryer doesn’t come with a specialized shoe rack or mesh bag, try the dryer door method. By tying the shoe laces together, you can hang the shoes from the dryer door with the shoes on the inside and the laces on the outside.
Closing the door will trap the laces, ensuring the shoes hang down without tumbling around. This minimizes noise, reduces wear on the shoes, and prevents potential damage to the dryer’s drum from the tumbling motion.
7. Rotate Shoes Every 10 Minutes
Even with the best precautions, shoes can have areas that retain more moisture than others, especially around thicker parts like the heel or tongue. To ensure even drying and to prevent potential damage, make it a point to pause the dryer every 10 minutes and rotate or reposition the shoes.
This periodic check-in is also a good opportunity to feel the shoes’ temperature, ensuring they’re not getting too hot, and to gauge how dry they are.
8. Check for Complete Dryness
It’s essential not to assume shoes are dry just because the outer material feels that way. The thicker parts of the shoe or internal sections can still retain moisture even if the surface feels dry. After removing the shoes from the dryer, give them a thorough check.
Feel the insides, especially the toe box and heel area, to ensure no damp spots remain. Remember, even slight dampness can lead to issues like mold growth or unpleasant odors over time.
9. Air Out the Shoes
Post drying, shoes can benefit from some fresh air. Even if they feel completely dry, letting them sit in a well-ventilated area ensures that any residual moisture, even minuscule amounts, evaporates. This airing-out process can prevent bad odors and ensures the shoes are as dry as possible before their next use.
If weather permits, placing them outside (but out of direct sunlight, which can warp shoes) can be particularly beneficial.
10. Re-lace and Insert Insoles
Once you’re confident that every part of your shoes is dry, it’s time to make them wearable again. Carefully insert the insoles, ensuring they lie flat and fit snugly without any bumps. Then, re-lace the shoes.
Remember, laces removed earlier and left to air dry would likely be ready long before the shoes. If they still feel a tad damp, give them a bit more time to air out. After re-lacing, your shoes should be fresh, dry, and ready for action.
Drying shoes in the dryer can be a time-saver, but it’s crucial to do it right to ensure the longevity of your footwear. Always remember to prioritize the shoe’s integrity over a speedy drying process. With these steps, you can have dry shoes in no time, without the wear and tear.