Don’t stop a tumble dryer mid-cycle

Warning Don’t stop a tumble dryer mid-cycle. Especially if it’s been on a while and is very hot. There are two potential consequences. Turning it off mid-cycle could cause a malfunction, or in extreme cases could cause laundry inside to catch fire..

..There are overheat protection TOCs inside designed to trip at dangerous temperatures. A higher temperature can be inadvertently reached if you stop a dryer mid-cycle. (Hotpoint and Indesit dryers in particular used to be plagued with this issue). This is because whilst a dryer is running, the fan inside blows air over the element and keeps it at desired temperatures.

If you stop a dryer mid way through the drying cycle the fan immediately stops running. The heating element continues to give off latent heat and can suddenly get extra hot inside. This could cause a TOC to trip, or an element could warp.

Heat pump condenser dryers

Fire Risk Some tumble dryers can get extremely hot inside on certain drying cycles. I have a Miele dryer and it warns in the instruction manual against stopping it mid cycle. It specifically says that laundry could catch fire.

Laundry could contain grease or other flammable substances due to either being exposed to them and/or not being washed thoroughly enough, or not washed in high enough temperatures to remove it..

If so then it is possible for laundry to catch fire (even during normal operation). But if a dryer is stopped manually by a user then a momentary raising of heat caused by the fan suddenly stopping could help laundry to catch fire inside the dryer even when unplugged. Remember we all deposit grease from our skins onto clothes and bedding and if not washed at appropriate temperatures it can build up (presumably not obviously to us).

Use the cancel option

A tumble dryer is one of the appliances you should never leave running if everyone has left the house (or has gone to bed). It’s a potential fire risk. So it’s ironic that suddenly turning one off mid-cycle could also cause fire risk issues. If you need to stop a dryer mid-flow, turn it to the last 10 minutes if possible so that it enters the controlled cooling down period. This is around 10 minutes where the heater is turned off but the drum and fan remain running to allow a degree of cooling down before stopping.

However, many modern dryers are no longer controlled by mechanical timer knobs and are controlled by software. So check the instruction manual to see if there is a way to properly cancel the programme. I’m pretty sure I’ve come across dryers that let you simply cancel without forcing a cool down period first which is arguably a design flaw.

Basically, try not to switch a dryer off mid-cycle for this reason – just in case. Leaving one running when out is also a potential risk so check your instruction manual to see how to cancel a dry cycle. If you do turn one off and there is no cool down cancel mode don’t open the door until it’s cooled down a while in case letting air into the drum facilitates ignition.

Leaving appliances running when out or in bed is a fire risk

Leaving a washing machine tumble dryer or dishwasher running when out or in bed

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10 thoughts on “Don’t stop a tumble dryer mid-cycle”

  1. With regard to a Tumble Dryer being a fire hazard? My Indesit (Model: IDVA735S) caught fire from the rear of the appliance within a couple of minutes of being started. This was the first ‘dry’ of the day, so the machine wasn’t hot due to a previous drying cycle.

    When I added one quilt cover and a couple of pillowcases to the dryer drum, I left the dryer in motion whilst I continued with my usual tidying up first thing in the morning. Within a couple of minutes I could smell smoke, that rather obvious ‘electrical’ burning smell that you get when a hairdryer gives up. I dashed back to the machine, where there was very slow grey smoke coming from around the sides of the dryer.

    I quickly pulled the quilt cover and pillowcases out, none were damaged, but I could see flames through the rear of the drum. The flames were approx’ 7-10″ high and clearly well alight. Immediately I chucked water towards the flames, yes, I know I should have unplugged the machine, but I challenge anybody not to do precisely what I did when faced with such a situation!

    Because I caught the fire straight away, the flames hadn’t even damaged a plastic panel located above the motor compartment, so I was relieved to have been on hand when the incident occurred.

    I think it’s important to mention, I was about to go out in my car as soon as I started the machine, secondly, there were four persons (family) upstairs in bed when this incident occurred … I was genuinely having palpitations with the thought of what could have happened? The machine was in my kitchen, the filter was clean and the machine was serviced just one month ago …

    Hotpoint were called and an engineer is apparently coming out to check this fire hazard today. Needless to say, I expect the company to replace this dangerous machine, via my insurance. I’m just waiting for some jobsworth to try and extort delivery costs for any new appliance? I certainly don’t want a bloody repair!

    The moral of the above account is: Don’t leave these appliances on when you intend leaving home for a period of time, my machine was around 5 years old, but was recently serviced.

  2. I have recently heard that if you change dryer cycles while the dryer is running that it will cause problems for the dryer or break the dryer. Is this true? Do you have to turn off the dryer and then change the cycle and then restart? Any input is much appreciated!

  3. Hello Michelle. The answer is in the article. If you need to cut short a cycle or turn it off whilst leaving the house use the cancel option to properly cancel the dry cycle. If there isn’t a cancel option (check the instruction book) and there is a mechanical timer turn the timer to the last 10 minutes to let it cool down naturally. Essentially you need to follow the instructions in the manual, which can differ from model to model.

  4. It does not seem to me that stopping the dryer mid-cycle would pose too much problem due to the fact that the clothes should still be pretty damp. If you have to leave the house, you could check to see if they are still damp, and thus not in fire danger. If they are nearly dry, put them in a laundry basket and finish them up when you get home.

  5. The cancel button on my Beko tumble dryer stops the cycle immediately (so it cannot be doing a controlled shut down).

    On the, very few, occasions I need to shut it down early I run a “freshen up” cycle (air flow and tumbling without heat for 15 mins) which should prevent the element getting too hot.

  6. Andy Trigg (Whitegoodshelp)

    That’s a good idea Mark. My Miele tumble dryer has a cancel button that drops the time down to 5 minutes cooling time so arguably even 5 minutes will do. However there’s nothing to stop me just turning it off with the on off switch.

    Another potential issue is if there is a build up of fluff around the heating element it’s possible that during normal operation the element doesn’t ignite the fluff but if stopped during the cycle the fan stops blowing over the element and temperature could rise enough to ignite it. This is something that should be very rare and dependent on the design of the dryer but thousands have caught fire over recent years so just be cautious and never leave them totally unattended. Always have a suitable fire extinguisher close by to appliances just in case.

  7. Which condenser drier would you buy for a tenant? I am thinking of easy use, and safety – fire prevention. Your advice would be most appreciated. Thank you.

    1. Andy Trigg (Whitegoodshelp)

      Hello there. Unfortunately, I don’t have time to review white goods appliances any more. It would be a full-time job just to keep on top of that. If I was buying a tumble dryer though, and I wasn’t wanting to spend a fortune, I would definitely look at the brand of Bosch. However, the best thing I can honestly recommend is to become a Which? Member and have a look at their latest reviews. They even warn you against white goods appliances to definitely not buy.

      There is currently an amazing special offer on, whereby a full year’s subscription is half price. An absolute bargain when you consider that if you use it properly it is likely to save you hundreds if not thousands of pounds Why subscribe to Which?

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