July 3, 2010

The Low-down on Line Drying

Most cloth diapers come with instructions for tumble dryers but what about line-drying? I don't have a dryer so here is what I have learned about the compatibility between cloth diapering and the washing line...

Obviously the first thing you need to consider with line-drying is your climate. If you reside where the weather is dry, hot and sunny, you are obviously at an immediate advantage. I live in a warm climate but it is often rainy and when it is dry it is also humid. However I still find that almost everything will dry in 24 hours. The common sense rule is that the wetter your weather the more diapers you will need to successfully line dry and have enough for your baby's bottom each day!

Whatever your weather I recommend having a line that is under shelter (such as on your veranda) as this saves having to rush out to collect diapers off the line the minute it rains. An inside line is also an advantage for extra items or those that need more drying time. I generally hang my load to dry in the morning and leave everything there until the next day when hanging out the next load. Fast drying items such as covers and pockets get picked off the line as necessary.

So what dries well and what items are best avoided for the line? Well I have a range of prefolds, covers, doublers, pocket diapers and inserts. As I said above, almost everything (with the exception of thick inserts on rainy days) will dry within 24 hours. From a brief flirtation with a Kissaluv fitted diaper I found that these types of dipes take a very long time to line-dry and can sometimes can get stinky. If you solely rely on line-drying then I'd advise to avoid Fitteds and All-in-ones unless you have a consistently hot dry climate or windy weather. However you could also try my other method, which I resort to it rains for several days in a row – hanging items to dry on on the handle of the oven while baking! (Not sure if this is recommended by manufacturers though so watch you don't melt something and void your guarantees!)

Line-drying is obviously the more eco-route to diapering yet I find that the prefolds get very stiff drying this way and I spend each evening ironing (yes ironing!) the daily set to soften them up and make the easier to fold. It doesn't take long but if I had known about this chore in advance I would have probably saved up to buy more pocket diapers and been more ecological in the bargain.

One big benefit about line drying is that most stains quickly disappear by virtue of the suns magical bleaching power. It doesn't even have to bright sunlight for marks to fade away. The outdoors air also gives the diapers a fresh scent that can not be replicated in a dryer. To me it's a sweetly satisfying feeling to see my diapers blowing in the breeze each day and it's also a great way to give directions to anyone looking for my house – just look for the diapers on the line!


I line dry a lot in the summer (at least, when I'm not having a baby in July) and have a distinct advantage because of the constant Kansas wind. My diapers (mostly pocket diapers and inserts, but some all-in-ones) usually dry within a few hours. My biggest problem is making sure I don't hang them when it's too windy and risk them blowing away (or being ripped by the wind) so I usually hang dry covers and pail liners inside.

If you have a dryer (and I'm very glad I do), you can throw them in the dryer for five minutes or so to loosen them up after drying outside. They're softer and it'll take off any bugs that might have come inside off the line.

just found this post trying to get information about cloth diapering with no dryer. I'll be living in costa rica, without a dryer, and in the worst cases, a pair of jeans can take 3 days to dry on the line. I was wondering about the thick inserts, are there any thin, gauzy inserts that can be folded to fit in place? or something similar?