Can you dry leather in the dryer?

Some types of leather can tolerate a low heat setting in the dryer every once in a while. Over time though, your leather garment or shoes may dry out, peel, warp, crack, or shrink.

Thus, it’s not recommended to put leather in the dryer because the heat can cause severe damage. But how does this happen?

In this article, we’ll look at how heat from the dryer affects different leather items and accessories.

Can you dry leather in the dryer

Can you dry leather in the dryer?

If you are wondering whether you can put or dry leather in the dryer, yes you can, but you shouldn’t. The heat from the dryer can severely damage the leather, making it brittle and dry and resulting in cracking. Additionally, the tumbling action can cause the leather to stretch, warp, and distort the shape of your item.

So, what happens if you put leather in the dryer?

When put in the dryer, leather tends to;

1. Shrink

Wet leather shrinks in the dryer because it is a natural fiber and, as such, it responds to the heat and air movement in the dryer by shrinking. Some people put their leather jackets or pants in the dryer on low heat for a short period if they want to shrink. If you attempt to do this, just be careful not to overheat your leather clothing as it may become damaged.

2. Stretches

Leather is a natural material that contains collagen fibers. These fibers can shrink or expand when exposed to heat. So when put in the dryer, the fibers in the leather loosen, making it more pliable and soft. When the leather softens, the agitation and spinning in the dryer also cause it to stretch.

3. Warp

There is a good chance that your leather shoes, jacket, or pants will warp when put in the dryer. That heat can cause the leather to stretch and become misshapen or distorted as it dries out.

4. Crease and wrinkle

When the leather shrinks due to heat, its fibers bunch up and resulting in wrinkles and creases.

5. Crack and peel

Heat dries out the natural oils in the leather causing it to become dry and brittle. As a result, the leather expands and then starts to crack as it cools down again.

Leather can also peel for several reasons, but one of the most common is simply because it’s too dry. When leather gets in the dryer, it dries out and loses its elasticity, and can start to crack and peel.

6. Lose color

Your leather items can lose color when placed in a washer or dryer because leather is sensitive to high temperatures. When exposed to heat, leather will dry out and become brittle. This can cause the color to fade or change because the physical agitation can cause the leather color to rub off.

7. Get Indented

The heat and/or the movement of the clothes around in the dryer can cause the leather to warp and shrink, which can then lead to wrinkles or indentations.

What to use instead of drying leather in the dryer

Here are a few different ways you can dry your leather products without using a dryer.

1. Electric shoe dryer

One of the most convenient ways to dry your shoes and boots is by using an electric shoe dryer. This is a device that uses heat and airflow to dry your shoes and it is safe to use on all materials including leather, vinyl, canvas, rubber, and microfiber.

Electric shoe dryers come in a variety of shapes and sizes, but all work in more or less the same way. You simply plug them into an outlet, place your shoes over them, and wait for them to dry.

The drying time however depends on the material of the shoes and their level of moisture saturation. But most dry overnight.

Some models have a fan that circulates heated air around your shoes, while others use infrared radiation to heat them up from the inside out.

Shoe dryers are a great option if you live in a humid climate or you just don’t have time to let your shoe air dry. They’re also handy for travel since they take up very little space and can quickly dry wet shoes.

2. Air dry

To air-dry your leather shoes or boots, simply in a cool, dry place out of direct sunlight.

If possible, try to prop the leather up on something so that air can circulate around it evenly.

You can also stuff the items with paper towels or similar absorbent material to help speed up the drying process. Remember to check on it periodically and replace the towels as needed.

For leather clothing like skirts and jackets, hang them in a warm, dry place. A breezy spot near an open window is ideal.

Direct sunlight should be avoided when air drying leather as it can cause discoloration or fading.

3. Using a fan

Another way to dry leather without a dryer is to use a fan; there are three ways you can do this.

You can either place the fan near the leather item so that it blows air directly onto it, you can hang it in front of the fan, or put the fan inside a box with the leather.

If you’re going to place the fan near the leather, make sure that it’s not too close or you could damage it.

The best way to determine how close to set the fan is to experiment a little bit. Start by setting it a few inches away and then slowly moving it closer until you see signs of drying.

4. Hair dryer

Another option is to use a hair dryer but you just need to be careful not to overdo it.

First, set the hair dryer on the lowest possible heat setting. Then, hold the dryer about six inches away from the leather and move it slowly around in a circular motion.

Keep moving the hair dryer until the leather is evenly heated. You don’t want to concentrate on one spot for too long or you could damage the leather.

When the leather feels warm to the touch, stop using the hair dryer and let your clothing or shoes air dry.

There are a few things you should keep in mind when drying leather items:

  • Avoid using high heat, as this can damage the leather.
  • If possible, air-dry the item by hanging it up or laying it flat on a surface.
  • If you must use a dryer, set it to the lowest heat setting and remove the item as soon as it’s dry.


So, can you put leather in the dryer?

If you want to prevent your leather items from getting damaged, avoid putting them in the dryer.

The heat from the dryer can cause the leather to deform, shrink, dent, crack, peel, wrinkle, or lose color.

Instead, it’s best to air-dry them, or if you want your leather to dry fast, use an electric shoe dryer, or fan or use the lowest setting on your hair dryer.

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