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Monday, February 23, 2015

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Cloth Diaper Drying Hacks

Punxsutawney Phil might have seen his shadow on February 2, but you and I both know that it doesn’t tell us anything about getting our diapers dry. Even here in Southern California where winter of 2015 has included several days in the 80s, there’s no guarantee that the weather will cooperate in my attempts to dry a load of diapers. But I don’t own a dryer and I’m not about to spend my entire winter feeding quarters to the coin operated dryers. If you’re in the same position or you are just looking for ways to cut the drying time needed for your diapers, here are some ideas for drying your diapers whatever the weather forecast:

1) Invest in a spin dryer. Spin dryers are small machines that spin wet clothes much faster than your standard spin cycle on a washing machine. With so much more water drained from your diapers, drying will take considerably less time, whatever method you choose. I first saw one of these in action as a teen, while visiting a friend in Northern Europe. At the time I was convinced it was one of the best modern inventions and couldn’t understand why they weren’t more widely used in the United States. All these years later, I still don’t understand.

2) Install retractable clotheslines. My HOA doesn’t allow clotheslines. They think them unsightly. Someone obviously hasn’t experienced the simple domestic beauty of clean laundry fluttering in the wind. Their loss, really. As for me, I’ve gotten around this prohibition with retractable clotheslines. My condo’s porch is only the size of a postage stamp, but with retractable clotheslines installed beneath the fence line, I have a covered clothesline when I need it and an outside play area the rest of the time. Nobody but a nosey neighbor can even tell. If putting a clothesline on your porch is not an option, look for inside spots that could handle an occasional line of laundry.

3) A shower is a beautiful thing. If you just aren’t interested in installing a retractable clothesline across your living room or in your basement, look to your shower. For more sophistication, go with something like the Lofti. The less sophisticated route is propping a broomstick over your shower door. (With the broomstick, watch for rolling! That’s a way to dump everything in a hurry.)

4) Prepare for the inevitable. All of the uncertainty of the changing weather plus the temporary nature of a clothesline in a multi-use space leads to the inevitable: You need to be ready for a lightening-quick laundry takedown. The easiest way to handle this is by clipping your diaper load to hangers on the clothesline rather than using clothespins. You can use multi-clip hangers designed for drying clothes, skirt hangers, or simply add clothespins to your standard hanger. Then whether you are surprised by a storm, a cooler night bringing in fog, or you need your shower laundry-free so you can give bedtime baths, your diaper load can be quickly moved.

5) Take advantage of your heater. Whether you’ve got central heat, a furnace, a radiator, a space heater, or a fire place, they all have two things in common: warmth and dryness. Sounds reminiscent of a clothes dryer, doesn’t it? Of course you want to be cautious about placing anything flammable too close, but it is a great way to speed drying. (And yes, wet laundry makes a great humidifier!) A portable or wall-mounted drying rack can make this even easier.

6) Dryer balls can make a big difference. If you aren’t quite ready to go completely dryer-free, use dryer balls. Not only can they leave your cloth diapers softer, but they can also speed drying time. Many people line dry their diapers and then give them a brief spin in the dryer with a couple of dryer balls to take the stiffness from the natural fibers. Since this isn’t an option for me, I’ve found that I can typically get my diapers soft enough by squeezing the inserts a few times as I fold them. When that doesn’t work, it usually means they didn’t rinse completely clean.

And if you just can’t manage to get that diaper dry before you need to put it on the baby? I promise I won’t judge if you pull out your iron or hair dryer (low temp!). Not that I know anything about that.

Bio: Becka Olson writes and mothers from her home in Southern California.

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