How To Dry Cloth Diapers: What You Need To Know, Dryer VS Line-Dry


Drying a piece of clothing may seem like a pretty straightforward task to accomplish, right? I thought this myself until I began cloth diapering. Turns out there are a lot of recommendations out there about cloth diaper care, washing, and drying! I’ve gathered up all the information you’ll need to know about drying cloth diapers.

Cloth diapers can go into the dryer, however it is best to dry them on a low heat setting in order to avoid damaging any elastic or waterproofing material on the diaper.

The main question people have regarding drying cloth diapers is whether to dry them in the dryer or hang them up to air-dry. In this post I’ll cover which diapers are best to dry in the dryer and which ones to line-dry, plus many more tips to make your diaper stash last longer.

Dryer Safe Cloth Diapers

  • Prefolds
  • Flats
  • Cloth Diaper Inserts (without the cover, shell, or outer layer which has waterproofing material sewn on the outside)

Another common question people ask is “Can cloth diaper inserts go into the dryer?” Cloth diaper inserts can go into the dryer. Inserts are made of materials like microfiber, hemp, cotton, and bamboo which are all safe to dry in the dryer. Check out my post here which covers everything you need to know about using cloth diaper inserts.

Prefolds, flats, and inserts are all safe to throw into the dryer to dry because they are only made with absorbent materials such as cotton, hemp, bamboo, and microfiber. None of these materials will be damaged by heat so feel free to toss them in the dryer!

  • All-In-One Diapers

Many All-In-One diaper are safe to go into the dryer on a low heat setting. Always check the manufacturers recommendations because they will be different for each brand of diaper.

The issue with drying All-In-One diapers, or any diaper that has waterproof material or elastic sewn onto it, is that the waterproof material (PUL & TPU) can be damaged and degrade by heat. Even washing this type of material in water that is too hot can ruin the waterproof material as well as the elastic in the legs and waist.

When a diaper’s TPU or PUL is damaged by heat this is called delamination. A delaminated diaper will no longer be waterproof and you will have leaking issues. In order to prevent delamination, make sure you do not wash or dry your diapers on a heat setting that is too hot.

  • Fitteds

Many fitted diapers can also be dried in a dryer. The main consideration with fitteds is to make sure the elastic doesn’t get too hot. When you take the fitteds out of the dryer be careful not to pull or stretch them until the diapers are completely cool. If you decide to line-dry your fitteds it’s best to hang them sideways so that the elastics around the legs are not being pulled down by gravity and getting stretched out.

Stretched elastics will cause gapping and a poor fitting diaper which always leads to leaking problems.

Best To Line-Dry Diapers

  • Diaper Covers

Diaper covers are best hung up to dry. Because a diaper cover is coated with a layer of waterproof material called PUL or TPU this type of diaper is particularly susceptible to delamination and leaking issues cause by heat.

Diaper covers typically dry fairly quickly and because you can use covers more than once before needing to wash them, it usually isn’t a big deal to hang-dry covers. If you find that you are running short on covers with your wash routine you may need to add a few more to your stash.

Need ideas for good places and ways to hang your diapers up to dry? Check out my post here on cloth diapering in an apartment for some creative ways to line-dry without a clothesline.

Cloth Diaper Materials That Don’t Like Heat

These materials are used to make cloth diapers and you should take care not to expose them to high heat which can damage the materials and cause leaking issues with your diapers.

  • PUL or polyurethane laminate is a laminate fabric used to make cloth diapers waterproof. It has 2 layers, one side is made of polyester and the other side is polyurethane film. These layers are bonded together. PUL is bonded onto fabric with a chemical bonding process using solvents.
  • TPU or thermoplastic polyurethane is a type of plastic material that is also used in the waterproofing of cloth diapers. TPU is bonded onto fabric using a heat process.
  • Elastic is sewn around the legs and waist of cloth diapers to keep the material snug against baby and to prevent any leaks.

Recommendations From Top Brands

Every brand of diaper should give some guidance and recommendations in regards to care of the product. Always check with the manufacturer of each type of diaper in order to find out the best way to dry the product. This can make the difference between a diaper that last a few months and a diaper that lasts for years. Here are a few examples of different care instructions from some top cloth diaper retailers and manufacturers.

Thirties brand diapers touts drying in direct sunlight as “the very best method for drying, disinfecting, and getting rid of stains”. They also recommend drying on a low temperature and adding a wool dryer ball or dry towel to shorten the drying process. Check out their laundering tips here.

Smart Bottoms make adorable All-In-One diapers and as you can see in their short how-to video, you can toss these diapers into the dryer and dry them on normal with a medium heat setting. Easy!

GroVia makes both All-In-One and Hybrid diapers. Here’s what they have to say about PUL and TPU. “PUL or TPU covers or shells need to air dry. Most everything else can go in your dryer (check your diaper’s label and follow its instructions). But, you can also air-dry on a clothesline or drying racks.” Check out their popular hybrid system on Amazon here.

Kangacare sells Rumparooz pocket diapers and fitteds and they recommend lying your diaper flat to dry in indirect sunlight or tumble drying them on low heat.

As you can see, the best way to dry your cloth diapers really depends on which brand and what type of diaper you purchase. You may want to consider what your washing and drying preferences will be before you decide which product to choose!

How To Prolong The Life Of Your Stash

  • Many people line-dry their diapers because the dryer is harsher on the diaper materials and causes more wear and tear. Line-drying or air-drying will make your diapers last longer over time. This is one of the best ways to prolong the life of your stash.

Here is another great tip from Green Mountain Diapers to make cloth diapers last longer:

  • Invest in a larger stash. The more diapers you have in rotation the less wear each diaper will be subjected to. If you only have a dozen diapers, you will be washing and drying them very frequently. If you double your stash to 24 diapers they will last twice as long.
  • Limit the use of bleach and other laundry additives that are harsh on fabric and other diaper components. Disinfectants and other chemical additives should be used sparingly as they will degrade the diaper materials very quickly if used regularly.

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