It’s an unfortunate fact. Tumble drying wears out fabrics faster and you can see the evidence for yourself at the end of the cycle. The lint that collects on the filter is actually tiny broken fragments from fibres damaged during all that pummelling and heat blasting. To maintain your clothes’ good looks for longer, air dry whenever possible.
That said, the lint by-product lends itself to many uses around the home and is well worth recycling. Hopefully regular tumble dryer users will already be scraping off the lint from the filter after each load. Make it a habit and your machine will work more efficiently. Also you don’t want wads of highly flammable fluff building up inside an electrical appliance!
I keep an old ice cream tub in a cupboard near the tumble dryer for lint recycling purposes. I simply chuck the lint in there each time I clean out the trap. The pile mounts up surprisingly quickly and these reuses give this useful material a second life…
Eco-friendly waterproof firelighters
The very flammability that makes lint unsafe if left inside the dryer is the main reason why these homemade firelighters are so effective…
Open a cardboard egg box and stuff each egg ‘compartment’ with lint. Pack well, as the more you can fit in the longer the burning time. Carefully drip candle wax into each pocket until the lint is well covered and set aside until cool. Store in an airtight container or resealable plastic bag. When you want to light a fire, simply tear off one or two of the firelighters from the pack and proceed as usual!
Burrowing pets love a roll in the lint! If you keep guinea pigs, mice, hamsters, gerbils, rats and the like you can safely give them a handful of lint from a cotton or natural fibre dryer load to use as bedding. Avoid scented laundry products and dryer sheets if you plan to use the lint in this way, as the chemicals can cause skin irritation in small creatures.
Lint clay is fun to make and even more fun to mess around with on a rainy afternoon, so keep this trick in your back pocket, parents!
In a bucket or bowl, mix a couple of big handfuls of lint with about 75ml room temperature water, six tablespoons of kids’ PVA glue and a tablespoon of washing up liquid. Add a drop or two of food colouring if you want to get jazzy. The mixture should come together so you can knead it to a clay consistency – add more lint if it feels too loose. Put down a plastic sheet and get moulding…
Packaging for breakables
Clean, soft and flexible lint is ideal for protecting fragile objects during posting or a house move. Much more eco-friendly than polystyrene packing peanuts! You can either snuggle the item directly into a dense clump of lint or use tape and plastic bags to create custom-sized lint ‘cushions’.
Any purely natural fibre lint can be composted. To make sure it breaks down quickly in the heap, tease out the balls of lint into a thin layer, dampen with a watering can and rake through the pile.