Question: If garments were hung to dry on a clothesline or placed in the dryer before Shabbat, may one take them off the clothesline or out of the dryer on Shabbat in order to wear the garments on Shabbat?
Answer: We have already explained that one may not move a very wet garment on Shabbat lest one come to wring it out, transgressing the Torah prohibition of squeezing on Shabbat. However, this prohibition to move a wet garment only applies to a garment that is very wet; however, if the garment is only slightly wet, such as if only a small portion of the garment is wet, there is no concern that one will squeeze the garment, for it is uncommon to wring out a slightly wet garment and our Sages never banned this.
The Opinion of the Mishnah Berura
Hagaon Mishnah Berura (Chapter 308, Subsection 63) writes that a garment that was wet at the onset of Shabbat may not be moved for the duration of that entire Shabbat as we find in the Gemara that “anything that is Muktzeh at the onset of Shabbat remains Muktzeh for the entire Shabbat.” It is not possible for an item to be Muktzeh at the onset of Shabbat and then sometime during Shabbat to change into a permissible status.
Nevertheless, Maran Rabbeinu Ovadia Yosef zt”l (in his Halichot Olam, Volume 3) rebuffs the Mishnah Berura’s opinion based on the words of Maran Ha’Bet Yosef (Chapter 310) quoting the Orchot Chaim: “If one poured water over dates on Erev Shabbat in order for the water to absorb the dates’ flavor with the intention of drinking it later on, although at the onset of Shabbat these dates are not designated for eating and the water is not yet designated for drinking, nevertheless, since one knows that the next morning the water will already have absorbed the flavor of the dates and will be ready for drinking, the water is not Muktzeh and it may be drunk on Shabbat morning.”
This means that when knows for certain at the onset of Shabbat that a given item will be ready or worthy for Shabbat use in a matter of several hours, its Muktzeh status will no longer apply after this point. Thus, dates which are currently inedible at the onset of Shabbat but one knows that in several hours it will be edible, they will be permissible for consumption on Shabbat once they become edible.
The same applies to clothes which were wet at the onset of Shabbat but one knows that they will be dry in several hours. Since one knows ahead of time that that garments will be dry sometime during Shabbat and they will be fitting and wearable without any concern of wringing them out, they may be moved and worn after they have dried and we do not say since they were forbidden to be moved at the onset of Shabbat, they remain this way for the entire Shabbat.
Maran zt”l proceeds to further question the Mishnah Berura’s opinion: Indeed, even when the garments are wet, it is not actually considered Muktzeh, for several people may move these garments together since in this way, there is no concern that one will wring out the garment, for they will remind one another of the prohibition. Thus, even at the onset of Shabbat, these wet garments were not actual Muktzeh. Hagaon Harav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach zt”l adds that the Magen Avraham (Chapter 305, Subsection 11) writes that wet clothing is considered wearable; thus, although there is a prohibition to move wet clothing on Shabbat because of a side reason lest one come to wring it out, it can nevertheless not be considered Muktzeh for the entire Shabbat.
Thus, a garment that was wet before Shabbat and was hung on a clothesline or placed in a dryer may be moved and worn on Shabbat once it is dry.
Summary: A garment that was wet at the onset of Shabbat and it dried during the course of Shabbat, if it was known ahead of time that the garment would dry completely during Shabbat, it may be moved and worn on Shabbat and the prohibition of Muktzeh does not apply here.
We must add that a wet garment retains a Muktzeh status on Shabbat only when it is wet to an extent that if one touches the garment, one’s finger would become wet to a degree that were one to touch another object, that object would become wet as well.