Can Cloth Diapers go in the Dryer?
Yes, cloth diapers can go in the dryer. However, just as with any other clothing or fabric items, exactly how long they spend in the dryer, what temperature you dry them on will change according to the material, style, size, and brand.
Dryer-Safe Cloth Diapers
In general, flats, pre-folds, and fitted diapers can go in the dryer on any heat setting. A higher temperature will not damage the natural fibers.
However, do not put wool diaper covers in the dryer. This will cause severe shrinkage.
Dryer-Sensitive Cloth Diapers
If you have pocket diapers or all-in-two diapers, you put both parts of your diaper in the dryer, but the diaper will dry more quickly than the insert. Therefore, you can dry both pieces together, remove the diapers as soon as they are dry, and continue drying the inserts.
This will minimize the amount of time your diaper is in the dryer and prolong the life of the PUL.
You can put all-in-ones in the dryer but, again, use the lowest practical temperature setting and leave them in for the shortest time.
Cloth Diaper Dryer No-Nos
Do not put cloth diaper covers in the dryer.
How to Dry Simple Being Cloth Diapers in a Dryer
To keep your Simple Being cloth diapers in tip-top shape, they should be dried on the lowest practical temperature setting and spend as little time as possible in the dryer.
To work out the best temperature and timings for your particular dryer, you can use a two-step process. It will take a little trial and error to get the timing and heat right, but once you have it worked out, it’s easy to use the same timings every wash day.
Settings for Your Dryer
First, put the inserts and diapers into the dryer. Next, set the dryer to run on low heat for 60 minutes. At the end of the sixty minutes, check the diapers and inserts and if the diapers are dry, take them out and continue drying the inserts.
If not, continue drying them for another 15 minutes and check again. Keep doing the 15-minute check until the diapers are dry. If you want to get precise, you can check at shorter time intervals.
This process will let you work out the shortest possible drying time for your diapers so you can keep their time in the dryer to a minimum.
As for the inserts - they will not be damaged by their time in the dryer. The more time they spend in the dryer, the fluffier and more absorbent they will get.
Softeners For Simple Being Cloth Diapers
Do not use dryer sheets of any kind with your cloth diapers and covers. Dryer sheets coat the fibers of the fabric, which makes them feel softer to the touch and reduces their ability to absorb fluids.
If you want to use a softener with your cloth diapers, invest in wool dryer balls. Not only will they help to soften your diapers, but they will also speed your drying time.
How To Dry Other Cloth Diapers
Before we jump straight into it - a disclaimer:
This is a general guide to drying your cloth diapers and does not supersede any instructions from any specific diaper brand manufacturer. Always follow the manufacture’s guidelines.
However, if you no longer have your instructions, can’t find any brand-specific information, or trust us implicitly - which is understandable, we are fabulous! - this is our general guide to drying cloth diapers in the dryer.
Drying Cloth Diapers With a PUL/TPU Cover
For other brands of pocket diapers and all-in-one diapers, the process is similar to the one described above for Simple Being diapers.
What Temperature Should I Use for Cloth Diapers in the Dryer?
Keep the temperature of your dryer as low as possible.
When it comes to PUL, heat is not your friend. A high dryer temperature or a prolonged time in the dryer on even a low heat can cause delamination.
The first time you dry your diapers, set your timer for an hour and then check how dry they are. Check again, every half hour or so, until you have established the shortest possible drying time.
Drying Cloth Diaper Inserts
Cloth diaper inserts are less like to suffer damage in the dryer. They can be dried at a higher temperature and for longer than all-in-ones or the outer part of pocket and all-in-two diapers.
Inserts will generally benefit from time in the dryer as this can make them fluffier and, consequently, more absorbent.
Drying Cloth Diapers Without a PUL/TPU Cover
The majority of flat and pre-fold diapers are made of cotton and can be put in the dryer at any temperature. If the diaper you buy isn’t pre-shrunk, then you can expect to see some shrinkage after your first wash and dry cycle.
However, after this, your diapers should not shrink any further, and you are good to go.
Fitted’s are slightly different because they have elastic at the leg. This elastic can be damaged if you put your diapers into the dryer on high or even medium heat. Instead, only dry fitted’s on a low heart.
Also, be sure to let fitted diapers cool down before you stretch the elastic in any way, as the hot or warm elastic is more prone to damage than cool or cold elastic.
Drying Cloth Diaper Covers
Cloth diaper covers should always be either hung up or laid flat to dry. If you can’t hang them to dry, then laying them flat on top of a towel will help speed the drying process a little.
How Does the Dryer Damage Cloth Diapers?
You’ll hear plenty of people talking about how they throw their diapers in the dryer, on high, and never have a problem.
While this is possible, it is just as likely you’ll encounter one of the following issues:
The waterproof outer covering of your all-in-on, two-in-one, or pocket diapers is made from a type of fabric called PUL. To make PUL, a layer of 1mm thick polyurethane known as TPU is stuck to a later of material, usually polyester.
The fabric and the polyurethane are stuck together with a heat-activated glue. This process is called lamination.
Under regular use and care, the bond between the two layers can last for years. The exact lifespan of an item made with PUL will depend on how it is treated.
Washing or drying a PUL item under conditions that are too hot will weaken the glue between the polyurethane and the polyester, causing them to separate. This process is called delamination.
Despite what you might read on the internet, you cannot fix delamination or reverse the process. Once it begins, you can stop the delamination from getting any worse, but you cannot reverse the process.
A diaper that is experiencing delamination can still be useful. In the early stages of delamination, you can use the diaper as usual, but be careful to wash and dry a delaminating diaper carefully, without heat.
Once delamination has progressed to the point where the diaper leaks, you can still use it as a swim diaper or even as a pair of pants during potty training.
Fading Colors and Patterns
Some cloth diaper users feel their patterns or colors fade when they put PUL cloth diapers in the dryer.
We can’t comment on other brands, but Simple Being cloth diapers do not fade in the dryer. The lamination process seals in the colors and patterns, keeping them as fabulous as the day your first bought them.
As your diapers tumble around in the dryer, there is a slim but definitely possible chance that the snaps could bang against the sides of the drum, causing cracking or breakages.
This type of damage doesn’t happen often, but when it does, a chipped, cracked, or broken snap can render your diaper useless. It can also damage the PUL fabric, potentially beginning the process of delamination.
Doing up the snaps before the diapers go into the dryer will minimize the chances of this happening.
However, it’s worth weighing up the time and effort needed to do up the snaps on all of your diapers each time you wash them against the slim possibility of them being damaged.
Less “Sticky” Hook and Loop Fabric
Pressing both sides of your hook and loop strips together before the diaper goes in the dryer will help to prevent the tiny hoops and hooks of fabric from bending out of shape and becoming less “sticky.”
It will also minimize the chance of them becoming “clogged” by picking up random fibers in the dryer or sticking to other items, such as insert, and causing pilling.
Another issue you’re likely to hear about is elastics being damaged by the heat in a dryer. Again, while this is entirely possible, it is more likely if you wash and frequently dry, use an excessively high temperature for drying, or leave a diaper in the dryer for too long.
Leaving your diapers to air dry for too long - too much exposure to UV rays - can also cause damage.
Cloth Diapers in the Dryer: Top Tips & Hacks
If you are putting your cloth diapers in the dryer, these are our top tips and hacks.
- The first time you put cloth diapers in the dryer, make an effort to monitor the drying time and check them frequently. This is time-consuming, but you only have to do it once, and it will allow you to keep time in the dryer to a minimum.
- Use the lowest practical heat setting.
- Do not put fabric softening sheets in the dryer with your cloth diapers. They will coat the material and reduce the absorbency of your diaper.
- A dry, fluffy towel in the dryer with your diapers will help to reduce your drying time.
- Using wool dryer balls will reduce your drying time and soften your diapers without affecting absorbency.
- Always separate your pocket diapers and inserts before they go in the dryer. This will reduce drying time and minimize the chance of finding a damp, bunched-up insert in your pocket.
- When you take your diapers out of the dryer, wait until they have cooled before stretching the elastic in any way. This will minimize the chance of damaging your elastic.
Don’t Fear the Dryer
Cloth diapers are an investment, and it is natural to worry about damaging them in the dryer. However, as long as you make the effort to work out the minimum drying time and use a low or no-heat dryer setting, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t put cloth diapers in the dryer.