Can You Dry Baby Clothes? Tips for Safely Drying Delicate Fabrics

As a new parent, you’re probably juggling a million things at once, and laundry is no exception. One question that often comes up is, “Can you dry baby clothes in the dryer?” It’s a valid concern, given how delicate baby clothes are and how important it is to keep them in good condition.

From my own experience, I’ve found that drying baby clothes requires a bit of extra care. You want to ensure they stay soft and safe for your little one’s sensitive skin. In this article, I’ll share some tips and best practices for drying baby clothes, so you can keep them looking fresh and cozy without any guesswork.

Key Takeaways

  • Mind Fabric Types: Understand the different fabrics used in baby clothes—such as natural fibers (cotton, bamboo) and synthetics (polyester, nylon)—and follow care labels for the best drying methods.
  • Watch Heat Levels: High heat can shrink and damage baby clothes. Use low heat settings on the dryer, or opt for air-drying techniques to maintain fabric integrity and size.
  • Practice Safe Dryer Use: Choose delicate or low-heat cycles and avoid overloading the dryer. Place items with elastic or embellishments in mesh laundry bags for extra protection.
  • Air-Drying Advantages: Air-drying is the gentlest method, reducing the risk of shrinking and further wear. Ensure proper air circulation and avoid direct sunlight to prevent fading.
  • Use Gentle Detergents: Select detergents that are hypoallergenic and designed for sensitive skin to avoid irritation. Brands like Dreft and Seventh Generation are recommended.
  • Choose Safe Fabric Softeners: Opt for baby-safe or sensitive-skin fabric softeners, or use natural alternatives like white vinegar to keep clothes soft without harmful chemicals.

Understanding Fabric Types Used in Baby Clothes

Cotton and Common Natural Fibers

Cotton is popular for baby clothes due to its softness and breathability. It’s gentle on sensitive skin and minimizes irritation. Other natural fibers like bamboo, hemp, and linen offer hypoallergenic properties, making them ideal for babies with allergies. While drying, these fabrics can shrink, so always check care labels and use low heat settings.

Synthetics and Blends

Synthetics include polyester and nylon. They offer durability and stretch. Blends combine natural fibers with synthetics, enhancing the benefits of both. These fabrics dry quickly and resist wrinkles. However, use low or medium heat when drying to prevent damage and retain fabric texture.

The Impact of Heat on Baby Clothing

Potential for Shrinkage

Heat can cause significant shrinkage in baby clothing, especially fabrics like cotton. High temperatures can lead to clothes becoming smaller, making them uncomfortable for the baby. Care labels usually indicate safe drying methods. Using a dryer on a low heat setting or air drying can help preserve the size of the garments. Natural fibers like bamboo and linen also shrink less when dried at lower temperatures.

Maintaining Fabric Integrity

Retaining the integrity of baby clothing fabrics requires careful handling during the drying process. High heat can weaken the fibers, resulting in wear and tear. This is particularly true for synthetic materials like polyester and nylon, which can lose their elasticity and resilience. To maintain fabric strength, it’s best to use a gentle cycle or lay the clothes flat to dry. Checking the care label ensures the drying method aligns with the fabric’s requirements, helping to keep baby clothes in optimal condition.

Best Drying Practices for Baby Clothes

Air-Drying Techniques

Air-drying is the gentlest method for drying baby clothes. It minimizes the risk of shrinking and damage to delicate fabrics. Find a clean, well-ventilated area for air-drying. Hang clothes on a drying rack or clothesline, ensuring ample space between items for proper air circulation. For indoor drying, keep clothes away from direct sunlight to prevent fading. Use clothespins or hanger clips to secure garments without overstretching the fabric. Lightweight materials like cotton, bamboo, and linen dry faster, while thicker fabrics like fleece may need more time.

Using a Clothes Dryer Safely

Using a clothes dryer can be convenient, but safety and settings are crucial. Choose a low-heat or delicate cycle to protect fabric integrity. Avoid overloading the dryer, as it can cause uneven drying and increased friction, leading to wear and tear. Place delicate items, particularly those with elastic or embellishments, in mesh laundry bags. Add a dryer sheet or a wool dryer ball to reduce static cling and creasing. Remove clothes promptly after the cycle ends to prevent wrinkles and folding lines. Regular maintenance of the dryer, including cleaning the lint filter, enhances its efficiency and safety.

Recommended Detergents and Fabric Softeners

Choosing Gentle Detergents

When selecting detergents for baby clothes, prioritize options explicitly designed for infants. These usually contain fewer harsh chemicals and fragrances. Look for labels like “hypoallergenic,” “free and clear,” or “sensitive skin.” For example, brands like Dreft and Seventh Generation offer baby-specific formulas that are less likely to cause irritation. Avoid detergents with added dyes or perfumes, as these can aggravate sensitive skin. Opt for liquid detergents over powders to prevent residue buildup on delicate fabrics.

Safe Fabric Softeners for Baby Clothes

Fabric softeners can make baby clothes softer, but not all are safe. Choose products marked as “baby-safe” or “sensitive skin.” Downy and Method offer gentler options that maintain softness without irritating a baby’s skin. Always check labels for harmful chemicals like formaldehyde or synthetic fragrances. If possible, use natural alternatives like white vinegar, which can soften fabrics without any added chemicals. Adding a half-cup of vinegar to the rinse cycle can soften clothes naturally.


Drying baby clothes can seem daunting but with the right approach it’s manageable. By focusing on low heat settings and gentle cycles we can protect delicate fabrics and avoid shrinkage. Air drying is another excellent option especially for materials like cotton and bamboo. Choosing the right detergents and fabric softeners is crucial for maintaining softness and preventing skin irritation. Brands like Dreft and Seventh Generation offer great baby-specific solutions. Whether you use a dryer or air dry the key is to handle baby clothes with care to ensure they remain soft and comfortable for your little one.

Drying baby clothes safely involves using a gentle cycle on the dryer or air drying to prevent damage to delicate fabrics. It’s important to follow the care labels and avoid high heat, which can shrink or wear out baby garments, similar to the recommendations by The Spruce. Using a drying rack or line drying can also help maintain the quality of the clothes, as advised by Good Housekeeping.

Frequently Asked Questions

What fabrics require special care when drying baby clothes?

Baby clothes made from cotton, bamboo, hemp, and linen require special care due to their delicate nature. These fabrics can shrink or get damaged if exposed to high heat.

How should synthetic baby clothes like polyester and nylon be dried?

Synthetic materials like polyester and nylon are more durable and stretchy but should still be dried on low heat settings to prevent damage and maintain their integrity.

Can high heat settings shrink baby clothes?

Yes, high heat can cause baby clothes, especially those made from cotton, to shrink. It’s important to use low heat or delicate settings on your dryer to avoid this.

What are the best practices for air drying baby clothes?

Air drying is ideal for preserving the quality of baby clothes. Hang garments on a clothesline or lay them flat on a drying rack to minimize the risk of shrinking and damage to delicate fabrics.

Is it safe to use a dryer for baby clothes?

Yes, it’s safe if you use low-heat or delicate cycles. Avoid overloading the dryer and use mesh laundry bags for delicate items to prevent damage.

What type of detergent is best for baby clothes?

Use gentle detergents designed for infants, with labels like “hypoallergenic,” “free and clear,” or “sensitive skin.” Brands like Dreft and Seventh Generation are recommended for their baby-specific formulas.

Should fabric softeners be used on baby clothes?

Safe fabric softeners marked as “baby-safe” or “sensitive skin” from brands like Downy and Method are recommended. Natural alternatives like white vinegar can also maintain softness without irritating your baby’s skin.

What should be avoided in detergents for baby clothes?

Avoid detergents with added dyes or perfumes, as these can cause irritation to your baby’s sensitive skin. Always opt for gentle, baby-specific formulas.