Can Too Many Clothes Damage a Dryer?

Meredith Jameson

A lot of things can go wrong with clothes dryers, and the reason can be dramatic -- a broken timer, belt, motor, pulley or other expensive problems that prevent the dryer from working properly.

Avoid overloading the clothes dryer to help avoid some basic problems.

However, there are also some more basic reasons why a dryer might have problems, and they are often caused unintentionally by the user. One such problem is putting too many clothes in a dryer, which can have some unexpected but damaging results.


When a dryer rattles, shakes, vibrates or even moves excessively during use, it can look quite dramatic. While the problem may have to do with an unstable floor surface or uneven legs on the dryer, it can also have to do with too many clothes in the dryer. If the load is too full, the sheer volume of items attempting to tumble may cause the dryer to vibrate and shake. This may damage the dryer if it scrapes against doors, walls or the floor.


Many dryers have a variety of settings and cycles for various time, fabric and item options. For example, setting a dryer to “Air Dry” or “Air Fluff” does not use heat and can often leave clothes damp when the cycle completes. Using the wrong temperature or time setting can also leave clothes still damp. However, there can be an even bigger problem caused by too many clothes inside the dryer, which prevents pieces from tumbling freely and getting the necessary warm air to dry completely. If the dryer has a dryness sensor, the sensor can overload if the items are not able to dry adequately. This can cause the sensors to malfunction or stop working altogether.


Placing too many items inside the dryer can place quite a strain on the dryer, especially if the motor is required to sustain an overloaded dryer on a regular basis. This can cause the motor to burn out prematurely and stop working altogether, which can be a costly repair.


It is important to clean the lint screen before every use and clear the exhaust screen on a regular basis, as not doing so can result in the dryer not working well. However, if there are too many clothes in the dryer, a dirty lint screen or exhaust vent may not be the reason why the dryer overheats. Constant overloading of the dryer can eventually result in the system overheating and may cause damage to the unit.