Drying reusable nappies in winter can be a pain and it is a question we get asked a lot at this time of year. Here are our tips for getting your nappies washed and dried with the main one being, - it doesn’t have to be warm and sunny when you hang out the washing.
As we get into winter - those damp, dank and dark days where stepping outside seems distinctly unattractive - getting your nappies dry can seem never ending.
Bamboo is a fantastic material for nappies because it’s so absorbent - but that’s also why it doesn’t dry as quickly as those poly-cotton shirts or teeny tiny socks. Which can leave you:
(a) with random white rectangles spread around every nook and cranny of the house
(b) no room to wash and dry anything else
(c) frustrated and ready to go single-use for the next few months.
Read on to find out what you can do to speed up your drying.
Hanging your washing outside doesn’t have to be reserved for summer. There are three things that play a part in drying our washing: heat, breeze and how dry (or damp) the air is.
The hours before the country gets battered by a hurricane are great for getting nappies on the line - they’re small enough they won’t blow away, and they really benefit from a bit of (very) fresh air. A crisp winter’s day when it’s 2 degrees but sunny? Not as good as a windy one - but good enough.
Hang out your bamboo inserts in December and they’re unlikely to come inside dry. But when you do bring them in, they dry far more quickly than if they had been sitting inside all day. And they smell soooo good. (Don't leave PUL shells outside in extreme weather.)
If you have a family and are averse to using a tumble dryer, then sorting an outside covered area for washing can help - which means you can get your washing out any day that the air isn’t too damp. This can be in a garage, greenhouse or pretty much anywhere - the main thing to remember is you’ll need airflow, so don’t shove them in the garage and close the door. A carport might not be the most on trend in house design...but it’s a winter wonderland when it comes to washing.
Get them high
If you are drying inside, get your nappies as high as you can - because heat rises. If you have space, a ceiling pulley will be your new best friend. A ceiling pulley over a boiler (or other heat source) can comfortably dry bamboo inserts in ten hours. Alternatively, you could use a radiator drying rack over the top of the door.
If you’re short on space then you can hang inserts on a sock airer - it can be easier to find a high space for a little hooked sock airer than a full drying rack!
If you have an airing cupboard, or your boiler is in a cupboard, then this is the ideal place to rig up an overhead line (make sure there is enough airflow to stop moisture gathering on your walls!)
Try a dehumidifier
The amount of moisture in the air is a big player in drying. A dehumidifier will suck the moisture out of the room, helping your nappies dry more quickly - and it may also be better for your baby’s health. If you use a heated drying rack and get a lot of moisture on your windows then you may find a dehumidifier is more effective than heat.
Increase the air flow
Airflow is key in drying washing - and many modern houses are so well insulated that airflow is virtually non-existent. It’s easier to dry clothes in a cold, draughty old house than it is in a warm modern one! Think about opening a window vent or how you can increase ventilation - this will help a lot.
Buy extra inserts
If you don’t mind having the boosters drying for a long time; but you simply don’t have enough nappies to last, then you could buy additional boosters to give you a day’s extra flexibility. Alternatively you could experiment with charcoal boosters, which dry significantly quicker than bamboo or hemp.
Use a heated airer
We know that lots of reusable nappy parents use heated airers. These dry nappies in super quick time and don't crank up your electricity bill too much either, costing just a few pence per hour to run. We do get asked quite a lot about whether it's OK to put nappies and inserts directly onto the heated airers. We wouldn't put the pocket shells directly onto the heat but we would most certainly put the inserts on there, just make sure you shape hemp inserts by giving them a tug when they first come out of the washer.
Use a tumble drier
Given the right circumstances, it’s perfectly possible to never tumble dry a nappy - but in some houses and busy lives, that’s not going to work. If you do need to tumble dry, your carbon footprint is still less than if you use single use nappies. You could also consider drying the nappies overnight on a rack; and finishing them off in the dryer in the morning, as a way to reduce the amount of drying time and energy used. (Remember to use a low heat if you tumble dry your inserts.)
What are your winter drying tips? We'd love to know what works for you.