As a parent you will need no introduction as to how often baby clothes need to be washed.
As each washing cycle brings about the need to dry your baby’s clothes – both quickly and safely – it’s worth taking some time to consider exactly how you should dry baby clothes.
So let’s jump straight in.
How To Dry Baby Clothes
Here are 6 things you need to know about drying baby clothes.
1. Read The Care Label
The first place to start in ensuring your baby’s clothes are washed and dried correctly is the care label.
Identifying the fabric of your baby’s clothes will help you select the right setting on your washing machine, and help ensure you don’t use too high a heat when washing, which may lead to shrinkage.
Clothes or sheets that are made from fabrics like cotton can usually be tumble-dried on a low setting without risking shrinkage (more of this later), and this is the kind of information you should be able to find by reading the care label.
2. Avoid Twisting & Wringing
Once you take your baby’s laundry out of the machine or basin if hand-washing, it’s important you avoid twisting and wringing them too hard.
Twisting and wringing can damage the fabrics and result in the clothes losing their shape, so it’s better to gently squeeze any excess water off instead.
3. Use The Sun For Whites
Did you know that the sun acts as a natural bleach for white clothes?
This means that drying your baby’s white clothes outdoors on a sunny day will make their tiny clothes even whiter.
4. Avoid The Sun For Non-Whites
The flip side to the above is that the sun can also fade non-white laundry items.
So if you are drying non-white items outside in the sun, you should turn them inside out to help minimize any fading.
5. If Drying Naturally, Encourage Air Circulation
As we all know, if there’s one thing that parents of young child don’t have much of, it’s time – so anything you can do to speed up the air-drying process is well worth it.
It’s therefore worth keeping in mind that air circulation is key to fast drying.
If you are drying items outdoors this won’t be much of a concern, but if you are drying your baby’s clothes indoors, particularly in a small space, then you may want to boost the movement of air using an electric fan.
6. If Using A Dryer, Use A Low Heat Setting
Many parents wonder if it’s ok to dry baby clothes in the dryer.
For anyone unfamiliar, tumble dry is an alternative way to dry clothing compared to air drying, using a machine (tumble dryer) to dry your items rather than a clothes rack or line.
Heat typically damages the fibres in garments, which can result in shrinkage, so for this reason if you are planning on drying your baby’s clothes in a dryer, you should use a lower heat setting.
How To Dry Baby Clothes Without Shrinking
The makers of baby clothes know that everything they manufacture needs to stand up to a lot of wear and tear, so typically the materials chosen are less delicate and are able to stretch a bit here and there.
However, if you are concerned about shrinking a particularly nice item or one which you a re looking to keep (perhaps in case a future sibling may wear it), then remember that it is heat which causes clothes to shrink.
So for those extra special or delicate baby clothes, you can eliminate the risk of shrinkage by washing in cold water and then either air-drying, or using the lowest heat setting in a tumble dryer.
Can You Use Dryer Sheets On Baby Clothes?
Dryer sheets are designed to leave clothes feeling static-free and smelling fresh when they come out of the dryer.
Although many adults use these sheets, experts recommend not using dryer sheets on baby clothes for two mainreasons:
- The chemicals in these products can irritate your baby’s sensitive skin.
- They can degrade the fire-retardant properties in children’s clothing – for example in pajamas, sleep sacks and swaddles.
Fortunately there are several alternatives to dryer sheets if you’re looking for other ways to soften your baby’s clothes and stop any static, including:
- Wool dryer balls (removes static)
- Aluminum balls (removes static)
- Vinegar (softens clothes)
- Baking soda (softens clothes)
Should You Wash Baby Clothes Before Wearing?
As we covered in a recent article, it is strongly recommended to wash brand new and second hand baby clothes before use.
For new clothes, this is because the clothes were probably stored in a warehouse before they were shipped to the shop, and at these warehouses they may have been in contact with bugs, rodents and other nasties.
And even if the warehouse had good levels of cleanliness, there’s still a chance the new clothes could have collected dust or other dirt particles.
It’s also a good idea to wash second hand clothes before use, because even if the items were washed after their last use, these clothes could have been sitting in storage for a long time collecting dust.
Is It Better To Air Dry Or Tumble Dry Baby Clothes?
A lot of parents wonder if it’s better to air dry or tumble dry their child’s clothing.
Air crying is certainly better for the environment, and will also save you money as you won’t need to run another appliance in your house.
Air drying could also increase the lifespan of your baby’s clothes, and eliminate the risk of shrinking their clothing.
However, air drying is often weather dependent, requires you to have enough drying space in your house, and is a lot slower than using a tumble dryer.
So if you have limited space, live in a wet climate, and don’t have the time to wait for clothes to dry naturally, then you’ll probably say a tumble dryer is the better option.
Overall, the side of the fence that you sit on in the air dry vs tumble dry debate will come down to your preferences, time constraints and what you find more convenient.
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