Sun-drying cloth diapers saves you money and energy. If you are trying to simplify your life and make best use of your family resources, why not use the energy source that offers itself to you every day: the Sun! It makes sense to sun-dry your diapers whenever you can.
- Drying rack or wash line – Even a simple string will do. You could drape the diapers over a fence, but they get bits of paint and dirt on them if you do this. (Yes, I tried.) This is the one essential tool.
- Clothes pins – Pins or clips aren’t necessarily essential, but I find them helpful. You can drape diapers over a rack or a wash line, but pinning by one edge lets the diapers catch the breeze.
- Lemon – Stains don’t hurt diapers, but we all try to get rid of them. The easiest way to brighten your diapers without harsh chemicals is to use the sun. Sometimes sun alone works. Try that first. If you still have stains, spray a little lemon juice on the area and watch them fade away. The drawback to this method is that if you used lemon, you might want to wash the diaper again before using it to avoid putting that acidic residue next to your baby’s skin.
- Saving money on energy – Why pay for the gas or electricity to run your dryer when you have a big, beautiful dryer waiting for you for free outside?
- Reduce your energy usage – The most energy used in the average cloth diaper washing routine is spent by the dryer heating up cold, wet diapers enough to evaporate away the water. If your goal in using cloth diapers is to reduce your carbon footprint, sun drying is going to make your choice even more environmentally friendly.
- Bleaching out stains naturally – The first time you see stains fade from diapers, you will be so shocked and surprised. It really works, and it’s so much easier than staying inside in the dark and trying to add chemical after chemical to make the diapers give up their hold on stains.
- Naturally fresh smell – You know that aisle of fresh-smelling sprays at the grocery store? This is the free version of that—an actual fresh smell. I love the smell of diapers and clothes that have been dried outside.
- Stiffness – The fibers of your diapers may feel stiff after they have been line dried. That’s not a permanent state. Just roll the diaper around in your hands a bit or put a full load in the dryer with several wool dryer balls on air only (no heat) for a few minutes. The fibers just need to be flexed. On the other hand, the constant abrasion and high heat in the dryer reduce the useful life of any diaper. Rolling the diaper around in your hands a bit is a good compromise to reach a balance between softness and long life.
- Harms some materials – I found that glowing snaps stop glowing when you dry them in the sun. Elastic that has residue build up can become brittle and snap when heated, but that is true in a clothes dryer as well. Just look at the materials in your diaper and be sure that you won’t cause harm to the diaper—and to the future good function of the diaper—by sun drying. Of course, with flat diapers and prefolds you don’t need to worry about this at all. All-cotton diapers love the sun.
- Dogs – My dogs acquire drying clothes. Know your furry people and make the wash line or drying rack high enough that they can’t satisfying their curiosity and need to save you from invading diapers. Dry the diapers out of reach.
Sun-drying your cloth diapers is such a simple and logical step in the effort to life a more natural, frugal life. One baby step at a time.