One of the most annoying things about the rainy season is the lack of avenues to dry our wet clothes. Unless you have a washer-dryer, you won’t get 100% dry clothes (even spin drying doesn’t dry your clothes completely); you’ll have to play along with the sun and the rain – and they are not exactly a cooperative bunch in this time of the year.
To get around this, some people use their hair blowers – which is a fine choice. For some (more desperate) people, using their microwave to dry their clothes have crossed their mind at some point. But will it work?
Spoiler: it won’t, and also, please DON’T try it as it can cause fires and burns.
How a microwave heats things
A microwave oven uses electromagnetic waves to heat our food. These waves are absorbed by fat, sugars, and water which “excites” them – making them vibrate fast enough to cause heat.
Also of note is that these electromagnetic waves can only penetrate up to an inch of most food (more on this later). This is why the surface of our microwaved foods are hot and steaming but the insides are still cold.
What microwaving clothes achieves
For the most part, microwaving your clothes will only give you extremely hot – but still wet – clothes. Here’s why:
For one, the water on the surface of the clothes will be steaming hot, but the problem is all the moisture in the deeper layers of your clothes. This is especially true for thicker clothes or for those that are placed inside the microwave oven folded. The water molecules inside are already super-heated but won’t show any signs of boiling; this can cause steam burns outright.
Also, if the weave of your clothes is thick and heavy, steam may not have a way to escape your clothes. These steam may continue to heat up and go way above the boiling point. This can eventually lead to fires depending on the type of fabric or any other factors.
What about synthetics?
Clothes made out of synthetic materials have it way worse than those made of cotton and linen.
Polyester, nylon, and spandex can literally melt inside microwave ovens at high temperatures.
If these materials are also present in cotton blends, they may melt first and then set fire to the cotton parts of the fabric.
On clothes with zippers
Zippers are made out of metal, and metal reflects the electromagnetic waves that your microwave emits.
This will result in electricity arcing inside your microwave oven which can fry the electronics of your unit and start a fire.
Just don’t do it, man.
This should act as a final warning to not dry your clothes using your microwave oven. It can cause fires, burns, and damage to your microwave.
Just stick to dryers, people.
Miguel Mores worked for 5 years as a member of the product management team for a home appliance company in the Philippines. He started 101appliance to answer the most common customer questions that he has encountered during his time in the industry. He now works in the digital marketing field and manages a small online bookstore on the side.