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Everyday Cheapskate: Clothes wearing out one dryer load at a time

You should see the big wad of lint I just plucked from the trap of my clothes dryer. Ack! Where does all of that come from? I know I emptied all pockets and I'm certain I did not wash a bag of pillow stuffing.

I'll tell you what it is, and I am not happy about this: It's visual proof the dryer is wearing out my clothes. Those fibers were neatly woven into these clothes only 30 minutes ago. For all the convenience a clothes dryer offers, it may come at the price of having to replace clothes much too often.

Drying clothes causes them the shrink, and not only the first time they're washed. Sleeves and pant legs continually get shorter and shorter when machine dried improperly.

There are tactics to counteract the abuse suffered from a clothes dryer, and you don't have to go back to the days of sheets frozen stiff on the clothesline (does anyone but me remember that?). You don't have to machine dry your clothes to death to end up with comfy jeans and fluffy soft towels.

GET THE SOAP OUT. Residual detergent in fabrics cause them to feel rough. Add 1/2 cup white vinegar to the last rinse. This will help remove the residual detergent from the fabrics. Even when air dried, they will be softer.

SEMI DRY. Never machine dry clothes -- especially jeans -- completely. Ten to 15 minutes is sufficient for most items to remove the major wrinkles.

HANG FROM THE ANKLES. Remove partially dry jeans and all other pants from the dryer and hang them by the hems on pant hangers equipped with clothes pins or clamps. The weight of the pant will pull the fibers into place and keep the pants from getting shorter every time you launder them.

EMERGENCY SPEED DRY. When you need to dry something in a big hurry, here's a great tip: Place the wet item and one dry bath towel into the dryer. Set on the highest temperature safe for that particular item. You will have dry jammies (or whatever) in less than half the time because the towel will absorb a great deal of the moisture.

STEP AWAY FROM THE DRYER. Any item that has a rubber backing, such as a bath rug, should never come in contact with the inside of a dryer. Lay it flat to air dry.

DON'T KILL THE SPANDEX. Fabrics that contains spandex, latex, elastic or have painted or silkscreened logos should not meet the heat of a clothes dryer. Even the elastic in pajamas, underwear and so on will break down quickly if dried on "hot." Make sure you always read the labels to determine fabric content and laundering instructions. Get a portable drying rack or install a few extra towel bars so you can air dry these more delicate types of fabric.

Mary Hunt is founder of www.DebtProofLiving.com, a personal finance member website.

You can email her at mary@everydaycheapskate.com, or write to Everyday Cheapskate, P.O. Box 2099, Cypress, CA 90630.

To find out more about Mary Hunt and read her past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.

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