Can You Leave Clothes In The Dryer Overnight?

Laundry, it’s never-ending. It seems we no sooner get one load washed, dried, and folded than the hamper is full again. In the midst of this endless cycle, we can easily become distracted and forget to take the laundry out of the dryer before we go to bed at night.

In this article, we’ll discuss what happens if you leave clothes in the dryer overnight and whether or not you can take them out of the dryer early. We’ll also tell you how you can get the wrinkles out of your clothes if you leave them in the dryer overnight and if it’s okay to go to sleep with the dryer running.

Can You Leave Clothes In The Dryer Overnight

So, Can You Leave Clothes In The Dryer Overnight?

Yes, you can. Even if the clothes are wet, it takes 24 hours for mold to grow, so you can run the dryer when you get up in the morning without re-washing your laundry. Unfortunately, you will have wrinkles.

What Happens If You Leave Your Clothes In The Dryer?

If you leave wet clothes in the dryer for longer than a day, they can start to grow mold. When mold grows, it will make your clothes stink and make them unsanitary, so you’ll have to re-wash them.

If you leave dry clothes in the dryer, they will get full of wrinkles. To get the wrinkles out, just re-run the dryer. Try to do this sparingly, though; too much time in the dryer could shrink your clothes.

How Long Can You Leave Clothes In The Dryer?

Now that you know it’s okay to leave your clothes in the dryer overnight, you might wonder how long you can leave them there.

Since it takes a while for mold to grow, wet clothes can stay in the dryer for up to 24 hours. The longer they’re in there, the stronger the likelihood they will start to stink, so we recommend starting the dryer no more than 8-12 hours after putting your laundry in.

Since there’s no risk of mold, dry clothing can stay in the dryer for much longer. There’s really no timeframe that dry clothes should be removed from the dryer, but you will end up with wrinkles if you leave them in when the dryer is done running.

If you do decide to leave your clothes in the dryer indefinitely, you may want to check and make sure they are fully dry; they can grow mold if they’re still damp.

Can You Take Clothes Out Of The Dryer Early?

Yes, you can take clothes out of the dryer early. If the shirt you want to wear is still in the dryer, you can stop the machine and check to see if it’s dry.

Chances are, thinner garments like tee shirts will finish drying sooner than heavier materials like jeans.

Is It Safe To Leave The Dryer On And Go To Sleep?

Although we all probably know people who have turned on their dryers and gone to bed, you should never do this.

The heating element in a dryer can get very hot and cause lint inside the machine to catch on fire. Dryers cause numerous house fires each year, leading to property destruction and even death.

Getting in one extra load of laundry at night is not worth risking your life and those of your loved ones.

How To Get Wrinkles Out Of Clothes That You Left In The Dryer

If you’ve left your clothes in the dryer overnight (or longer), now you’re faced with the problem of getting the wrinkles out. Here are a few tried and true methods of removing wrinkles from your clothing:

removing wrinkles from clothing
  • Iron them: It may take a little while to get the hang of it, but once you’re comfortable with it, ironing is one of the quickest ways to get wrinkles out of your clothes. Just set up your ironing board, fill your iron’s water reservoir, plug it in, and get started. A word of caution- before you begin ironing, check your garments to make sure the material can withstand the heat of an iron.
  • Re-run the dryer: To remove most of the wrinkles from your clothing, you can simply run the load of laundry in the dryer again. To get the most out of re-running the dryer, add a damp towel to the load to release moisture into the dryer and help pull the wrinkles out. 
  • Use a wrinkle-releasing spray: If leaving your clothes in the dryer overnight becomes a habit, you may want to pick up some wrinkle-releasing spray to get your wrinkles out. This method is quick and easy- just spray your clothing and shake it around a bit to release the wrinkles.

Other Ways To Dry Clothes Without Using A Dryer

  • Line Dry: Before dryers were a common household appliance, everyone hung their clothes outside on a clothesline to dry them. Line drying is still an excellent way to dry your clothes without running up your electric bill. It can also impart a pleasant, fresh smell to your clothing. Before you hang your clothes out to dry, check the label to make sure they will retain their shape if you hang them.
  • Lay Flat to Dry: If you don’t have a clothesline or your garments are too delicate to hang, you can find a nice, sunny spot and lay your clothing out to dry. If the weather doesn’t permit drying clothing outside, you can lay your items out inside instead. In this instance, you may want to lay down a few towels to protect the surface you’re using from the moisture of the clothing.
  • Hang Indoors: If you don’t have the room to put up a clothesline outside, you can hang your garments indoors using a hanging rack. If you don’t have a clothing rack, you can use hangers and space out your items in your closet; just make sure you leave the door open so the air will circulate and dry your garments faster. If your closet is too full, you can use hangers to hang clothing where ever you have the space. I’ve hung things from my shower rod, door knobs, and dining chairs in a pinch.
  • Use a Hairdryer: If you’re desperate to wear a certain piece of clothing before you can get it dry in the dryer or by air drying, you can use a hair dryer to speed up the process (don’t try to use the microwave!). Make sure you hold the hair dryer 8-12 inches away from the garment to prevent scorching and check the label to see how much heat your clothing can withstand.


How Long Can I Leave Wet Clothes In The Washer?

According to a 2017 Today Show conversation with the domestic goddess Martha Stewart, you can leave your wet clothes in the washer for up to 24 hours. She does warn listeners not to make a habit of leaving clothes for too long, but if you forget a load of laundry here or there, it won’t harm your clothing or washing machine.

How Can I Tell If My Clothes Are Cold or Damp?

It’s difficult to tell if clothing is damp or just cold. One good way to figure it out is by holding the clothing up to a mirror. If the item is damp, it will create condensation on the mirror, but if it’s just cold, the mirror won’t fog up.

Can I Fold Damp Clothes?

Folding clothes that are still damp isn’t a good idea. If you fold those items and put them away in drawers, the damp clothing can grow mold and make the garments and the dresser you store them in smell musty. 

Is It Okay To Wear Slightly Damp Clothes?

Although it’s not very comfortable, it is okay to wear damp clothing. You won’t get sick, and the clothing won’t cause any other health issues.


Forgetting the laundry in the dryer happens to everyone at least once in their lifetime. Not only is it okay to leave your clothes in the dryer overnight, but according to Martha Stewart, you can even leave wet clothes in the washer for up to 24 hours without re-washing them

 Leaving your clothing in the dryer will cause wrinkles, but you can remove them easily by ironing, re-running the dryer, or using a wrinkle-release spray.

If you don’t have a dryer or would rather dry your clothing another way, you can hang it on a clothesline outside, hang it on a clothing rack inside, or lay it out to dry.

Never, ever go to sleep with the dryer running. The heating element could cause dryer lint to catch on fire and burn down your home. It’s not worth risking your life or the lives of your loved ones just to do one more load of laundry.

Shauna Stone