The first time I tried line drying my diapers was for economic reasons. No, not the savings that I might accrue on my electricity bill- I was simply out of quarters. We live in an apartment and I wash my diapers in a coin-operated machine. One week I forgot to plan well, and I found myself at the end of the day with a load of diapers to do and only enough quarters for the wash. I washed as usual and hung the diapers inside on a drying rack. There was snow on the ground outside, so waiting for a nice day was out of the question. This method worked well enough. The next morning my prefolds and all of my covers were dry, if a bit stiff and oddly shaped, but my pocket diaper inserts remained damp. While I liked saving the money on the dryer, the stiffness bothered me, so I returned to my coin and energy wasting ways and continued to use the dryer.
Fast-forward to spring: my diapers had developed a serious funk. Remember that whole shared-washer thing? I can’t control the types of detergent my neighbors use in the washer, or the fabric softener sheets they put in the dryer. Something nasty was building up in the diapers I worked so hard to keep clean. I tried numerous stripping methods: detergent, baking soda and vinegar, baking soda and lime juice, multiple washes with hot water, and switching to a pricier highly recommended detergent. While these things helped, the diapers still had a lingering scent. Not terrible, but not fresh either. I wanted fresh.
While browsing some cloth diaper websites I came across a suggestion to line dry diapers to get rid of odor. Since the weather had improved, I decided to make a second attempt. I picked a sunny morning, washed up my diapers, and hung them out in the sun. By the end of the day they were both dry and fresh smelling. I was sold.
Now I plan my washing so that I can finish by mid-morning and get my diapers out in the sunshine. I use a standard collapsible drying rack, because I can’t string an actual line in our back area. The rack is a bit wobbly, so when I put it out I use a few patio chairs around it as a wind break. I have found that I can avoid shape problems by shaking my diapers out right before I hang them up. A quick snap to get rid of bunches or wrinkles and up they go.
Covers I hang on the lower racks out of the sun to prevent their vibrant colors from fading, and pockets and All In Ones I hang white (inner) part out to prevent fading. I have found that the sun and fresh air not only leave my diapers smelling great, they also fade stains, thus making my diapers look even better. Line drying does make the pre-folds a bit stiff, but I have if I roll them around a little when they are dry they loosen up, and they don’t seem to bother my son’s bum at all. If you have a dryer, a quick five or ten minute fluff would give your line-dried diapers that soft dryer feeling.
Give line drying a try- this is the perfect time of year for it. Pick a clear day and grab your drying rack. You will save your laundry quarters or save money on your electricity bill, have fresh smelling diapers, and reduce energy consumption in one easy step. What cloth diapering mom wouldn’t love that?
By Amy C.