How Hot Does a Dryer Get? Everything You Should Know

By Nick Evans •  Last Updated: 08/19/22 •  8 min read

If you’re using a dryer to dry your clothing it’s important to know how hot it gets. Dryers dry your clothing by heating them with a heating element, in electric dryers at least. Dryers also toss your clothing around, which is responsible for that clunking sound you hear when the dryer is turned on. So, how hot does a dryer get?

The average dryer heats up to about 125 degrees Fahrenheit. While that’s the common maximum temperature there are several temperature levels within dryers. For this reason, it’s important to explore dryer heat and learn about how it impacts your clothing. 

Read on to learn more about how dryers work, how hot dryers get, and how they might overheat.

how hot does a dryer get

How Does a Dryer Work?

Dryers use a combination of air, heat, and movement to dry clothing. Clothing dryers produce heat by using a heating element, which is often located below the drying chamber. The heating element is typically made from metal coils and it heats the air within the drying chamber. If a dryer is powered by electrical currents then it functions the same as an oven that uses metal coils. There are also gas dryers that use a pilot light to heat the air within the drying chamber.

Dryers get hot because they produce a lot of heat via the heating elements. For this reason, dryers come with thermostats to regulate temperature.

When drying clothing the dryer uses heat and air to remove water particles; water is removed by being converted from water into water vapor due to the heat. The tumbling effect helps airflow through each clothing item instead of them sitting in a pile. This combination of heat, motion and air is enough to thoroughly dry most clothing items.

While there are many different types of dryers, these are the basic mechanisms that each one uses to dry clothing.

How Hot Does a Dryer Get? 

Dryers can reach temperatures upwards of 176 degrees Fahrenheit. That said, most dryers have an average temperature range from room temperature (during fluff cycles) to about 135 degrees Fahrenheit. When factoring the various cycle types, fluff cycle excluded, dryers typically have a temperature range between 125 degrees Fahrenheit and 135 degrees Fahrenheit. Dryers that reach hotter temperatures usually do so to remove germs and bacteria from clothing.

It’s important to note that dryers are not all the same. Some dryers may vary in temperature.

Dryer Temperature Settings 

The temperature of your dryer depends on the setting it’s on. Most dryers come with several settings to handle different drying needs. The main three settings you’ll find on most dryers are fluff, gentle, and normal. These settings will change the way your clothes are dried if they’re dried at all. For example, the fluff setting typically uses no heat or very little heat to fluff your clothing and prevent wrinkles.

The clothing tag will recommend what setting it should be dried on. Still, there are some simple rules you can follow. First and foremost, the normal setting is best for jeans, sweatpants, towels, blankets, and sheets. Then there is the gentle setting. The gentle setting is perfect for clothing made with silk, cotton, or rayon. Some dryers may also have permanent press settings that are designed to dry normal clothing like shirts, sweatshirts, and some coats.

If you’re curious about how hot your dryer is in each setting, we recommend using a thermometer to draw a temperature reading. If you see anything above 150 degrees Fahrenheit your dryer might be overheating.

Read also: Best Dryer Vent Hose for Tight Spaces

Does Dryer Heat Disinfect Clothing?

One benefit of using a dryer to dry clothes instead of letting them air-dry is a dryer’s ability to remove dust, bacteria, and other harmful things from your clothing. Using a dryer to remove these contaminants can improve your health and prevent your clothing from premature wear and tear.

There are several things dryers can rid from your clothing but the most common uses are for bacteria and germs, bed bugs, and dust mites.

Germs and Bacteria 

Dryers remove germs and bacteria by turning up the heat and cooking them off of your clothing. When dryers reach temperatures above 130 degrees Fahrenheit many types of bacteria will die. This is because they can’t handle the high temperatures for extended periods. You can also extend the drying session to remove more bacteria that survive the heat for longer periods.

Still, 135 degrees Fahrenheit isn’t enough to kill some of the more durable bacteria types that exist on clothing. If you’re concerned about bacteria on your clothing it’s important to have a dryer that reaches 149 degrees Fahrenheit. At this temperature, most bacteria and other living organisms will die.

Bed Bugs

Bed bugs are a menace. These critters can survive most conditions and reproduce rapidly. Having just one bed bug can cause an infestation in your home. The good news is that dryers can help prevent this problem from happening. To get rid of bed bugs your dryer needs to reach a temperature of 120 degrees Fahrenheit. If you expose bed bugs to this temperature for 30 minutes you’ll kill the adults. That said, it takes about an hour longer to remove eggs from clothing because they can handle harsher conditions.

Dust Mites 

Dust mites are a hassle to deal with and can cause numerous health problems if you have too many on and around your clothing. Many dryers are equipped with high enough heat settings to remove dust mites from clothing. The optimal temperature to remove dust mites from clothing is 135 degrees Fahrenheit. If your dryer can operate at that temperature you won’t have to worry about dust mites.

Dryers are great at disinfecting clothing but you shouldn’t rely on your dryer to make sure your clothing is sanitary.

Need help with your appliances? Do it correctly, hire a professional.

Can a Dryer Overheat?

Dryers have many temperature settings and they can handle a lot of heat. That said, an overheating dryer can damage and shrink your clothing. While dryers overheat sometimes it’s often a simple fix like a blockage of airflow, damaged heating element, or a faulty thermostat.

Lack of Airflow 

Dryers will overheat if there’s a lack of airflow. Air plays a role in removing steam from your clothing but it also moves hot air through vents in the dryer to prevent the chamber from getting too hot. When there is an obstruction to the airflow a dryer will begin to overheat. The airflow blockage typically occurs at the lint trap or within the vent. If there is an abundance of lint within the trap it will cause overheating and you need to clear it.

The second place that an airflow blockage can occur is within the dryer’s vent. Lint, dust, and other particles can clog the vent and prevent hot air from escaping the dryer. When this occurs, you need to remove the lint. We recommend using a vacuum to do so.

Faulty Thermostat 

Dryers use a cycling thermostat to check the temperature during drying cycles. The thermostat can also break and cause a dryer to overheat by not properly setting the heating element. Cycling thermostats can be found in the top front panels or the back panel of the dryer –you can also check the owner’s manual to find the location of the thermostat. When you find it, run a quick test using warm or cold temperatures to see if it works. If the thermostat is broken it’s time to replace it.

Damaged Heating Element 

Dryers will also overheat if the heating element is damaged. While it’s harder to know if the heating element is faulty, you can check by making sure everything else is working. If the thermostat works fine and there are no clogs in the vent or lint trap it’s likely the heating element. Many heating elements in dryers can be replaced, so check your owner’s manual to determine where it is in your dryer.

An overheating dryer will damage your clothes and cause them to shrink excessively, so we recommend doing routine checks to make sure it’s in the right temperature range.

Final Thoughts 

Dryers have a lot of unique temperature settings depending on the model. That said, the average dryer will heat up to a temperature range between 125 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit. If you dry clothes within this temperature range you won’t run into any issues and your clothing should be fine. If you see that your clothing is damaged or shrinking, it’s time to check and see if your dryer is too hot.

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