Quick Answer: It's not a good idea to microwave clothing. Fire hazards are a big part of the equation. You might be surprised by some of the common materials in your clothes, many of which are definitely not microwavable.
First up: Let's learn more about what materials clothes are made with...
What Are Clothes Made Of?
Today, clothing is typically made of a mix of natural and synthetic materials. A cotton shirt can be a cotton-polyester blend. A pair of socks might be woven with a fair amount of nylon, and there's a good chance stretchy yoga pants will be made with Spandex.
While natural materials aren't necessary microwave-safe, microwaving synthetic ones comes with its own risks.
Plastic polyester and cotton blends are popular in clothing, but the polyester is liable to melt when heat is applied. The thermoplastic material called nylon can also melt at moderately high temperatures, and Spandex is known to be flammable.
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Then there's the possibility of introducing metal zippers and buttons to the microwave. This is bad because many metals are known to spark, which can cause fires.
It may be tempting to throw a wet article of clothing in the microwave to dry faster, but it's not worth melting your clothing, irreparably damaging your microwave, or worst of all, causing physical harm.
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Different Types of Clothing Materials
What about the natural fabrics and materials used in clothing? Some of these include:
There are some products made with cotton that are advertised as microwavable, but usually only for a very short amount of time (a minute or two) to avoid fire hazards. Others are specifically not meant for the microwave.
All natural fibers are not the same in this respect. Some may be microwavable in brief intervals while others are not. Bamboo is probably not a good idea to microwave, for instance.
Because clothing materials aren't likely to come with a "microwave safe" label, the best way to go about drying your clothing is the conventional way, either on a clothes rack or in the dryer.
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How Do You Know Clothing Is Microwave Safe or Not?
The truth is, you probably won't know if clothing is microwavable or not. That's why it's best not to test it.
You may not be able to tell how an article of clothing will react in the microwave, even if you think you have a pretty good idea.
It's also possible that the materials listed on a garment will not give you enough information to make a proper assessment, leaving you open to making mistakes.
You also may not be aware of things like small buttons and inner elastic bands on some items that should never be put in the microwave.
Bottom line: Drying your clothes in the microwave is probably never safe.
Labels on Clothing to Be Aware Of
You might not find microwave-related labels on your clothes, but you could find labels that refer to how flammable garments are.
Some may indicate a lower risk of catching fire. This won't tell you that you can or cannot microwave clothing, but you'll discover that these items should never, under any circumstances, be put in the microwave.
Bonus Safety Tips
- If you own a microwave-safe product made with fabric, such as a heating pad, it's a good idea to watch it closely and stick to shorter "cook" times.
- Proper maintenance of an electric dryer is always recommended. To guard against dyer fires, make sure you do things like clean the lint trap with each cycle and keep the dryer vents unclogged.
- Don't overload your dryer. It could cause it to malfunction and break down.
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