Whether you're expecting your first child or your fifth, the decision to use cloth nappies can be quite a daunting one. There are a lot of myths about them and many people believe they're difficult to care for. Knowing there's a fast way to dry your nappies can help to put these worries to rest, and hopefully start you on your cloth journey!
In short - most cloth nappies can go into your clothes dryer, but it's not necessary. Most parents opt to mainly air dry for a number of reasons, mainly environmental and cost of electric. But nowadays many houses have solar panels which negates these issues almost entirely. That being said, there will always be rainy days and of course not everyone has an outdoor space to dry their nappies in, and sometimes you just need those nappies quick!
High vs Low Heat
There's a few things to bear in mind about drying cloth nappies as much like clothes, not all nappy fabrics are suited to high heats. Cotton can be tumbled on a high heat, but anything else (PUL, TPU, bamboo, hemp etc...) should generally be tumble dried on a low heat setting. This will take a little longer but will preserve the fibres and waterproof laminate of your nappies, and keep them working at their best. Just keep in mind that cotton fitted nappies contain elastics which aren't suited to regular tumble drying on a high heat, but shouldn't be an issue on occasion.
If you are looking into high heat tumble dryable cloth nappies then your options mainly lie in flats such as cotton prefolds and terry towels. These are quick to dry as they can handle very hot temperatures due to being exclusively cotton. The outer wraps will need air drying or a low heat, but wraps generally dry within a few hours anyway. Almost any nappy system can be tumble dried on low, with the exception of wool wraps.
Benefits vs Disadvantages
Having dry nappies almost on demand is a huge benefit to many new parents, particularly in the early days when you want to focus on your newborn. Tumble drying will also fluff up your nappies which is useful in hard water areas, especially since you shouldn't use fabric conditioner on them. But fluffing up your nappies isn't necessary, particularly if you use fleece liners as these will keep baby's bum feeling super soft, or "Like a fluffy cloud" as my toddler says!
Obviously a large disadvantage is energy consumption, although with newer tumble dryers it's still more energy efficient than manufacturing 5,000 disposables. And of course there are ways around this such as solar panels or using a green energy company. Another downside to tumble drying is that it can shorten the lifespan of your nappies, as the extra battering instead of a gentle outdoor breeze can take a toll on them over time.
There's a few alternatives to consider if you think you'll need a bit of help in drying your nappies. The first is a heated clothes airer which is a little investment but will save you a fortune on your energy bill! Modern ones cost just 4p per hour to run, meaning you can have a full load of nappies dry overnight for less than 30p. Many come with covers for faster drying, but a bed sheet will do the same job.
If you happen to have the heating on anyway then an airer placed next to a radiator is a fantastic way to use energy that would otherwise go to waste. You can also get airers which hook onto your radiator for a few pounds, and they fold flat for easy storage. Remember not to place your nappies directly on the radiator unless they are cotton. Top tip: Place a sheet over the airer and the radiator to create a 'heat tent' which will dry your nappies faster.
And finally, a ceiling pulley clothes airer is great if you live in a house with high ceilings or a large over stairs area. Heat naturally rises so having your laundry up high will help it to dry faster, as well as keeping the nappies out of sight during the drying process. Some people even hang their nappies off of their curtain poles for the added heat, as these are often directly above radiators!
In short, if you want to dry your cloth nappies in a hurry then the clothes dryer is an option. However it's not necessarily required and many parents opt for air drying with great success, but of course the dryer is always there if you need it - it's not all or nothing. Remember that some fabrics are better suited to high heat than others so be sure to check before tumbling on high! As well as this, make sure you're aware of any potential disadvantages such as shortened lifespan and increased energy consumption rates when choosing whether or not to use the clothes dryer for your convenience.
How do you dry your nappies? We'd love to hear your techniques in the comments!