Can A Dryer Kill Bacteria And Germs? Dryer Temperature Levels

Dryers are a super quick way to dry your clothes without waiting too long. While some fine garments can shrink in a dryer, the majority of clothes are suitable for being dried in this way.

Can A Dryer Kill Bacteria And Germs - Dryer Temperature Levels

One of the biggest advantages of a washer dryer is that it can kill germs and bacteria when used at the right temperature.

But how hot does a dryer need to be to kill germs, bugs, or other unwanted creepy crawlies on your clothes?

Even if you wash your clothes regularly, bacteria and germs are all around and you simply can’t avoid them.

These germs and bacteria cannot typically handle hot temperatures, so when you expose them to the hot temperatures in your dryer, then this is an easy way to kill them.

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the perfect temperature for killing germs and whether every dryer can get hot enough for the job.

How Hot Can A Dryer Get?

The standard for dryer temperatures ranges from between 125 degrees Fahrenheit and 135 degrees Fahrenheit.

Saying this, 135 degrees Fahrenheit isn’t the hottest temperature that most dryers can get to. However, the majority of them go up to 150 degrees Fahrenheit.

There are also some dryers that can achieve an impressive 176 degrees Fahrenheit. But it’s important to bear in mind that you will usually not use these high temperatures to dry normal clothing.

For this reason, most dryers don’t offer these high temperatures because they can damage your clothes.

When clothing is dried at extremely high temperatures, then the water inside the dryer reaches boiling point.

This means the water will start to evaporate and steam which can end up burning your fabric.

Manufacturers and the dryer industry know this very well, so they don’t produce dryers that create too much heat.

While these are the most common heat settings for dryers, the individual maximum temperature levels of your dryer depends on the manufacturer.

How To Find Out Your Dryer’s Temperature Levels?

You can try a few different ways to find out the maximum and minimum temperature of your dryer.

One way is by checking the user manual of the dryer. Some brands list the different temperatures and heat settings, so this should be a quick way of finding the temperature levels of your device.

However, temperature ranges aren’t always accurate when they are provided by the manufacturer.

Some of them exaggerate the temperature, so you may still end up with germs on your clothes after drying them.

That’s why it’s a good idea to also try the second method. Simply use a thermometer to check the maximum temperature of your dryer.

You can either check the temperature of your clothes by putting a standard meat thermometer into the pile of your clothes or use an infrared thermometer.

The standard thermometer may not give you an entirely accurate reading as you will have to take your clothes out of the dryer and then quickly take a reading.

An infrared thermometer is a great alternative because you don’t even have to touch your pile of clothes. Just hold up the thermometer and point it at the clothes.

This should give you a fairly accurate reading of your dryer’s temperature and how hot the dryer has been drying your garments.

It’s important to note here that you shouldn’t use a standard mercury thermometer. It may be tempting to just put a normal thermometer into the dryer but mercury expands when hot.

This means when you expose a mercury thermometer to any heat source, including freshly dried clothes, then it will crack and release toxic fumes.

Some people may even try leaving a thermometer inside the dryer while it’s working but this will only lead to damaging the thermometer and possibly your clothes.

This could also lead to serious damage to your dryer or at a minimum short-circuit the dryer’s fuse.

That’s why, never leave any appliance, including a thermometer and other devices, inside your dryer when it’s running.

Can Heat Kill Bacteria And Germs?

Yes, high temperatures can kill germs and bacteria. Just like any microorganism, they are heat-sensitive.

While you can kill germs and bacteria also with other pathogens, heat is still the most used killer of the majority of germs on clothing.

The effectiveness of heat depends on the type of microbe. Some bacteria already die at a very low temperature.

Others can survive much hotter temperatures, and it is well known that some bacteria can survive at extremely high temperatures.

Can A Dryer Kill Bacteria And Germs - Dryer Temperature Levels

Can Your Dryer Kill Germs?

Whether your dryer is a germ killer depends on the type of dryer.

The best way to find out whether your dryer can kill bacteria and germs living on your clothes is by checking the type of dryer you have.

There are two main types of dryers: vented dryers and ventless (or condenser) dryers.

Vented dryers pull hot, dry air into the machine and they use this heat to vent out all the moisture through a hose.

In comparison, a condenser dryer, or ventless dryer, takes the moisture from your clothing and turns it into water which it releases through a pipe.

Both dryer types do exactly the same job: they dry your garments by generating plenty of heat.

Both these dryers warm up the air inside of the dryer drum. This allows the moisture in the clothes to evaporate more quickly than hanging your garments out to dry.

The hot temperatures in your dryer should be able to kill all the microbes on your clothing, depending on the temperature.

What’s The Best Temperature To Kill Bacteria And Germs?

The best temperature to kill germs and bacteria on your clothes depends on the type of microbes but generally, 149 degrees Fahrenheit is enough to get rid of most germs.

Saying this, it’s important that you check your garment’s drying instructions, as some clothes may not be suitable for these extreme drying temperatures.

Bear in mind that not all bacteria and germs on clothes are harmful.

While we often think of germs that can cause dangerous diseases or other health issues, many bacteria are also incredibly useful for us.

Luckily, many of the healthy bacteria are heat-resistant, whereas quite a few of the harmful germs cannot withstand temperatures beyond 100 degrees Fahrenheit.

The right temperature to kill germs of any type depends on the microbe on your clothes.

Generally, it’s best to use a higher temperature of 149 degrees Fahrenheit to remove germs and bacteria from your garments during the drying process.

Can You Disinfect Clothes With A Dryer?

No, dryers aren’t designed to disinfect clothes and there is no guarantee that the hot temperatures inside the drum will kill all the germs on your clothing.

In order to be sure that you killed all the microbes on your garments, you would need to expose them to extreme heat which would damage the fabrics.

That’s why, it’s important that you find a balance between trying to get rid of the germs and what your clothes can withstand.

Drying clothes with a dryer is very common and many modern fabrics can withstand the heat much better.

However, some natural textiles, such as bamboo and cotton, warp and shrink when they are exposed to high temperatures.

This means that you shouldn’t place clothes made with natural threads into the dryer.

But it’s worthwhile remembering that you don’t need to kill 100% of the germs on your garments as the majority of them will likely be harmless germs.

As most harmful germs are extremely heat-sensitive, they will usually die in the dryer. While there is no guarantee for all germs to be dead after a drying cycle, you can be sure that the majority of them will be gone.

What Other Organisms Your Dryer Can Remove

Almost all organisms are sensitive to heat although not all of them die from heat exposure. Generally, a dryer is very effective when it comes to killing harmful germs.

But this heat producing device can also kill quite a few other unwelcome living things that crawl over our clothes and fabrics.

Bed Bugs

Despite the common belief that bed bugs only appear when there is a lack of hygiene, they are, in fact, much more common than we may think.

Bed bugs are just like dust mites or other small insects that can end up on our bed linen, furniture and other surfaces.

Luckily, putting your clothes into the washer-dryer is an excellent way of killing bed bugs. Just put your garments and bedding into the temperature for half an hour.

Make sure that the temperature is at least 120 degrees Fahrenheit. This will kill off all the living bed bugs on your fabric.

However, bed bug eggs are more resilient, so you will need to either repeat the washing procedure or dry your fabrics in the dryer for a minimum of 90 minutes.

Dust Mites

Dust mites are a big problem when you have a dust mite allergy, and they can cause serious health issues.

There are quite a few ways to kill dust mites, although it isn’t commonly known that you can also use your dryer to remove dust mites from your textiles.

Perhaps that’s because dust mites often sit on furniture fabrics that aren’t easy to put into the washing machine or dryer.

However, if you can remove furniture fabric, then you can easily stick them in the dryer (if suitable) to get rid of dust mites.

Just dry the fabrics at 130 degrees Fahrenheit for around 15 minutes. If your dryer is hotter, then you can be sure that the dust mites are dead even under 10 minutes.

While the drying kills the dust mites, you should also wash the fabrics again to ensure that also the bugs’ feces and dead bodies are gone.

Can A Dryer Kill Bacteria And Germs - Dryer Temperature Levels

What You Can Do If Your Dryer Isn’t Hot Enough

Not every dryer can achieve a high enough heat output that can kill germs.

If your dryer can’t produce a high enough temperature, then there are still a few different options to get rid of microbes.

The best way to get rid of germs at lower temperatures is by exposing your clothes to the highest possible temperature of your dryer for a longer time.

This works when your dryer reaches a maximum temperature of 135 degrees Fahrenheit.

While not all microbes will perish at this temperature, the majority of them will be gone within a few minutes.

If you want to remove also the more stubborn bacteria, then it’s a good idea to put your clothes into a 145 degrees Fahrenheit dryer for around half an hour.

This will kill off almost all germs and you can be sure that there are none left. However, if your dryer doesn’t get up to these temperatures, then a dryer with 135 degrees Fahrenheit is fine as well.

It’s also important to check the drying labels on your clothes as not all clothes can withstand these high temperatures.

Different fabrics and textiles react in different ways, and in order to avoid any shrinkage or warping, it’s best to only dry clothes that are clearly labeled as suitable for drying.

Can Your Dryer Overheat?

Yes, your dryer can overheat, just like any other household appliance. With dryers, it’s difficult to notice when they are overheating as they generally get quite hot.

But it’s important to check regularly if your dryer feels warmer than normal. An overheating dryer does not only cause damage to the appliance but it can also cause house fires.

Dryers can overheat for quite a few different reasons. Here are some of the main causes.

Thermostat Problems

Most modern dryers contain an internal thermostat that regulates the temperature inside the device.

Thermostats are sensitive beasts and they can malfunction quite regularly.

This means that when the thermostat in your dryer doesn’t work properly anymore, there’s a risk of the appliance overheating.

If you notice that the thermostat in your dryer isn’t working anymore or you spot that your appliance is hotter than normal, then it’s worthwhile changing the thermostat.

They aren’t expensive and your dryer’s user manual will likely explain how to repair the thermostat.

This may be the most simple reason why a dryer can overheat but it also has the easiest solution.

Restricted Air Flow

All dryers have a range of vents and lint filters that catch any fluff, lint, and dust from your clothes to ensure the vents stay free.

If your lint filter or vent gets too clogged up with lint, then the air inside your dryer can’t flow anymore.

This means that your dryer won’t be able to reduce the internal temperature anymore and the device will overheat.

The best way to avoid this is through prevention. Make sure that you regularly check and clean the vents as well as the lint filter.

This should be a quick and easy job, and your dryer’s instructions will advise how to access the lint filter.

Broken Heating Element

One of the most important components in a dryer is the heating element. It’s essential to produce heat inside the dryer.

It’s a good idea to get your dryer checked regularly, including the core heating element.

When the heating element starts to break, it will bend, shift or warp after some time. And once this happens, you will notice a change in your dryer’s temperature.

If you notice that the heat of your dryer is not steady, then it’s best to get a professional to look at the device.

Final Thoughts

You can kill the majority of bacteria and germs with a dryer that can produce up to 149 degrees Fahrenheit.

While there’s never a full guarantee that all germs are removed from your clothes, many microbes cannot withstand the hot temperatures inside a dryer.

Shauna Stone