Many parents who are new to cloth diapering are bewildered by the thought of washing and drying the cloth diapers.
Whether machine washing is recommended and whether they can use the dryer to dry cloth diapers remains one of the frequently asked questions.
When I had purchased the very first cloth diaper stash for my baby, I was very concerned about using the dryer.
Those diapers seemed way too important, delicate and expensive for me to just toss them in the dryer and take the risk of ruining them.
I had too many questions on my mind.
What if the dryer is too harsh on the diapers?
What if the PUL cover loses its elasticity?
What if the diapers lose their color due to the heat?
Well, these concerns are not unreasonable at all. But there’s still a way to safely use the dryer without damaging your cloth diapers. Read on to learn the answers to all your dryer problems.
Can you dry cloth diapers in the dryer?
If you’re anything like me, you’re probably treating your cloth diapers like a baby- gently and softly.
Though there’s nothing wrong with that, handwashing the diapers and line drying them under the sunlight may not always be an exercisable option.
During those times, the dryer comes to your rescue as a dependable ally.
The outer waterproof layer of the cloth diapers are usually made up of PUL or TPU fabric. Exposing the cloth diapers to too much heat can cause damage to the PUL laminate and the elastic of the diaper cover.
But if you live in a cold geographical location and bright sunlight seems to be a rare occurrence or if you are in the middle of a cunningly cold winter, you have to depend on your dryer to dry your cloth diapers.
Take proper precautions and read your wash instructions that came with the diaper to create a wash routine that suits you and is appropriate for your cloth diapers as well.
The pros of using the dryer
1.The diapers dry faster:
Obviously. One of the main disadvantages of cloth diapers is that they don’t dry that easily and if you sun dry them, it might take you a minimum of two days to get your cloth diapers dry.
The inserts of the pocket diapers and AIO cloth diapers are especially hard to sun dry.
This means trouble for those of you who own a smaller stash of diapers. You really need the washed diapers to dry fast before your diaper stash runs out.
Using a dryer, you can dry your cloth diapers faster thus refilling your diaper pail before you run out of clean diapers.
2.Dryer makes your diapers soft
Washing your cloth diaper inserts leave them wet and crumpled.
Leaving them directly under sunlight often gives you a hard insert to deal with especially natural fiber inserts like cotton and hemp.
Running them in the dryer will make the inserts soft and fluffy. These softer inserts are gentle on your baby’s skin and absorb the pee more quickly leaving less chances for a leakage.
3.The heat of the dryer helps kill bacteria.
We know that the used diapers contain bacteria and germs due to the pee and poop present in them. The moisture of the diapers creates a perfect environment for the bacteria in them to thrive. People usually recommend sun drying the diapers to kill the bacteria in them.
But using the dryer serves the same function too. The heat generated in the dryer when you use it, helps to effectively kill the germs and bacteria in the diapers making them clean inside out.
Infact, this is also why heat drying is recommended if your child has had a recent yeast infection in order to kill any fungus still living in the diaper.
Cons of using the dryer
1.Regular exposure to heat can damage cloth diapers
The outer layer of the cloth diapers are made up of PUL (Polyurethane Laminate) which can be considered a hybrid of plastic and rubber.
Although good quality diapers are made to withstand heat and maintain its integrity, too much exposure to heat can cause it to break down.
This PUL cover is what keeps your cloth diapers waterproof so any damage done to them will make your diapers leaky. Hence, we need to make sure that we don’t use too much heat on the cloth diapers.
2.The elastic of the diaper might get worn out
Although agitation of diapers is necessary to keep them clean and fluffy, too much of it can cause damage to the elastics in the cloth diapers. Too much heat in the dryer can cause the elastics to weaken too.
In fact, this is true even with sun-drying. It is advisable not to leave your cloth diapers in direct sunlight for more than a couple of hours.
Some words of caution for using a dryer for cloth diapers:
- Do not dry cloth diapers made up of wool in the dryer as the heat produced in the dryer can cause the wool to shrink.
- Use low or air dry settings so as to be gentle on the diapers.
- Do not use dryer sheets. These sheets usually contain fabric softener and fragrance- both of which are bad for your cloth diapers.
- When drying PUL covers in the dryer, make sure to read your manufacture guidelines before tossing them in the dryer. Some manufacturers recommend only line drying for covers and it might void your warranty when you use a dryer.
- While putting diapers with Velcro in the dryer, make sure the Velcro is closed so that the diapers don’t stick to each other and get tangled.
- You can use the regular heat setting on the diaper inserts, flats and prefolds. As they have neither a waterproof PUL cover nor elastics, you need not worry about breaking them or wearing them out.
- A shorter hot cycle of about 10-15 minutes once a month is claimed to be beneficial for the PUL lamination of the diapers.
Steps to dry your cloth diapers in the dryer:
- The first step while doing any laundry is to segregate them. Separate the diaper inserts from the diaper cover and unsnap them.
- If there are any Velcro diapers, make sure you close them.
- We recommend that you dry the diaper cover separately in a low heat setting or air only setting which protects your PUL lamination and elastics from heat.
- Then dry the inserts in the normal setting.
What about diaper liners?
Diaper liner is a layer you add to the cloth diaper that acts as a barrier between your baby’s bottom and the diaper to catch the solid poop.
They make your job of cleaning the diaper a much easier one. If you are wondering whether you can wash and dry your reusable liners in the machine, you can certainly do that but with precaution.
Reusable diaper liners are usually made up of fleece. Fleece is a synthetic insulating fiber made from polyester and it will definitely degrade when exposed to a lot of heat.
However, you can dry them in the drier on a low to medium heat setting and must remove them promptly after the cycle is finished. The pain about drying liners in the dryer is that they get lost in the heaps of your diaper laundry. You can toss them inside a pantyhose or a laundry bag to keep them all together.
Do your diapers come out of the dryer still damp?
If your cloth diapers, especially the AIO and diaper inserts seem to take forever to dry even after a low heat cycle in the dryer, you might want to check the lint collector of your dryer. If the lint collector is full, it drastically reduces the efficiency of your dryer.
If there seems to be no issues with the dryer, you can also contact your diaper manufacturer to ask for some advice because many diapers are actually designed for commercial use (I.e diaper services) hence can easily endure a medium heat cycle.
If the above suggestions don’t work for you, you might need to buy a few more diapers to make up for the longer drying period of your diapers.
Thumb of rule for using the dryer:
- Try to line dry diaper covers. Always check your manufacturers recommendation before tossing the PUL covers in the dryer.
- Your pocket diapers and AIOs can be dried in low heat/ air only settings.
- Never use high heat settings on synthetic diaper inserts like microfibres.
- You can use a normal setting for natural fiber inserts and prefolds like cotton, hemp and bamboo.