Drying Your Cloth Diapers

I’d love to tell you that I spent the morning stringing my cloth diapers from the clothesline in the early light.  And then hours later, tucking the soft white laundry into neat folds.

The truth is, when I hang them to dry, my cotton prefolds resemble white shingles.  They are hardened, rough, and rigid and have to be bent instead of folded.

Now, I could still hang them and them cart them all into the house while slightly damp for a quick fluff in the dryer.  Or I could just dry my prefolds and hang the polyester diapers and covers out to dry, but both of those seem too labor intensive.

So what do I do?  I hang ninety percent of my laundry all week, but I still toss my diapers into the dryer.  I can’t seem to replicate that fresh soft feel without a stint in the dryer.  I don’t mind our rough towels and cloth napkins, but I do want her diapers to be soft.

Do you have an easy solution for softening up air-dryed diapers?  Do you have other diaper truths you’d like to confess? (Also, many thanks to Suzannah at the Smitten Word for the photo!)


  1. I find that softening the fabric in the wash helps a lot. I use vinegar poured in during the rinse or a little baking soda tied in a sock. Then, even line-dried fabric stays soft. It’s not quite as fluffy as stuff dried in the dryer, but they don’t come out like shingles!

  2. I dry mine in the dryer for 20-25 minutes then put them out on the line, it softens them enough and then they dry thoroghly outside.

  3. i line dry my prefolds and they come out stiff, but a few snaps (read: shaking violently) and they are soft enough. after a few minutes of being worn the are plenty soft. a cup of vinegar in the rinse cycle helps also.

  4. I line dry then toss them in the dryer dry or almost dry to soften up for a few minutes.

  5. I recently read that air-drying half your laundry loads could keep about 1,000 pounds of CO2 a year out of the atmosphere.
    Keep up the good work!

  6. This is funny…I don’t line dry for this reason exactly. I don’t like crunchy diapers! I always dry in the dryer and I just love how soft and fluffy they come out! Besides with 5 kids I don’t have much time for line drying…

  7. Jennifer says

    I exclusively line dry. And my 15mo has never complained of rough diapers. 🙂 Maybe we should ask ourselves *why* we think diapers need to be super soft? Is it our own preconception? If it doesn’t bother her, then it doesn’t bother me! That being said, when/if she does express dis-satisfaction with her diaper experience, I would consider changing my laundering habits.

  8. I have heard such good things about adding vinegar to the rinse!

  9. We line dried most of our laundry when I was a kid, and my Mom would hang laundry in the evening and leave it on the line overnight so the dew would land on it and soften it. Also she sometimes hung laundry and let it get rained on to soften it. I’ve done that in the past with diapers and it works! Obviously this won’t be an option every time you wash diapers, but I’ve been known to hang out diapers in the rain!

  10. I’m so glad you posted this! I’m having the exact same issue. I appreciate the tips given by your commenters.

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