Air Dry or Tumble Dry Baby Clothes – Debate Solved!

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Choosing a variety of cute little outfits for your baby is one thing. Washing them and more importantly, drying them is a different challenge. After all, you don’t want to stretch or shrink those dainty little outfits. With so many conflicting opinions around, you might be wondering whether you should air dry or tumble dry your baby clothes?

The essential differences between air drying and tumble drying come down to a few simple factors. Tumble drying requires electricity and can shrink certain fabrics. Air drying exposes the clothes to the sun but can lead to stretching if hung up and should rather be dried lying flat. 

Air dry vs tumble dry baby clothes

You might be changing your baby’s clothes more than once per day and you’re contemplating what will be the quickest way to get your infant’s clothes dry. You might be weighing up the options between air dry vs tumble dry. Let’s compare.


Depending on your unique circumstances, one option might be more convenient than the other. Air drying requires you to be home during sunlight hours which could be a problem if you’re working all day. Tumble drying on the other hand requires electricity but needs considerably less effort. It’s also easy to tumble dry your little one’s clothes at night.


Tumble driers are notorious for shrinking clothes, whereas air drying in the sun will never shrink your clothes. The trick here is to tumble dry on low heat and for short periods. Here’s an in-depth guide I wrote about shrinking baby clothes when washing or tumble-drying.


Some fabrics, such as woolen jerseys will stretch if pegged to the washing line. The best is to lay these items on a flat surface outside. To avoid damage to fabrics, always read the instructions before placing them in the tumble drier. 

Odor reduction

Another benefit of drying clothes in the sun is that it enhances freshness and also reduces odors. Sun-dried clothes don’t require any chemical laundry fresheners and are generally whiter than clothes that are continuously tumble-dried.


Clothes dried in the tumble dryers often have static cling. This might result in you having to buy dryer sheets. There are however instances of babies developing allergies to these and it’s an additional cost. Air drying on the other hand doesn’t require dryer sheets and eliminates that pesky static cling.

Tumble drying baby clothes

One of the first laundry-related questions many parents ask is, whether you can tumble dry baby clothes. While many parents believe you shouldn’t tumble dry baby garments because of shrinkage, the good news is that most types of infant clothes can be dried in the tumble drier

Using a tumble dryer is quick and easy and allows you to get on with other things while the clothes are spinning dry. A few tips to consider when you’re using a tumble dryer include the following:

  • Check labels to make sure the clothes can be tumble dried
  • Always dry on a low setting
  • Always check how dry clothes are after 30 minutes – don’t dry for too long
  • Wrap clothes inside a towel or laundry bag to minimize potential damage


  • Quick and easy
  • Requires minimal effort
  • Not dependant on the weather
  • Can be used at night


Air drying baby clothes

Many parents who have access to washing lines and who live in sunny areas, enjoy the benefits of letting the warm sun dry their infants’ clothes. While some items, such as woolen jerseys can stretch if they’re pegged onto the line, it’s best to lay these items flat on an outside table or flat surface. You can do this by placing the clothes on a thin towel on a flat surface. 


  • Environmentally friendly
  • Saves the cost of electricity spent when using a dryer
  • Reduces creases on clothes
  • Increases the lifespan of some materials
  • Doesn’t shrink fabrics
  • Ultraviolet rays kill germs that might still be on the clothes after washing


  • Clothes can stretch if left hanging – must be laid flat
  • Air drying is dependent on the weather
  • Takes more time

Alternatives to tumble drying and air drying your baby clothes

Not all parents agree with using a tumble drier because of the additional costs to their electric bills. In fact, studies have shown that tumble driers make up at least 6% of a home’s energy expense. Tumble dryers are also not environmentally friendly. On the other hand, air drying might not always be an option either. 

You could be working all day, live in a very rainy region or live in an apartment where getting access to a washing line is time-consuming. Fortunately, there are a few alternatives to consider. 


If you have a radiator in your home, it’s a great way to get little clothes dry. I know this might leave you worried that the clothes might get moldy as they dry, but I have a solution to your problem. 

Simply put a dehumidifier on in the room where you’re using the radiator. It’s an ideal way to remove moisture from the air which minimizes the risk of dampness and actually dries the clothes faster! 

Heated airer

Another popular option is the plug-in air heaters which work well because they dry clothes quickly, are economical and heats the room it stands in. Many parents who swear by this drying method advise that you should cover your airer with a dry sheet as this makes the clothes dry quicker. 

Airing cupboard

Airing cupboards are not only great for hanging the regular laundry on rainy days but also ideal for your infant’s clothes and blankets too. Woolen sweaters can easily be laid flat to dry without stretching or shrinking. 

Clotheshorse (Clothes airer)

If you have a regular clotheshorse, you can easily drape your little one’s clothes or blankets over the racks and dry overnight. It’s always a good idea to place the clotheshorse in a sunny spot of the house. Additionally, placing it in front of a draughty, open window will also get the clothes and blankets drier quicker. You can also point a fan at the clotheshorse to speed up the process.

I’ve included a short clip to show you a few alternatives to drying your baby clothes indoors during the colder months. 

Should you air dry or tumble dry baby clothes?

Many people caution against tumble drying your infant’s clothes. The reality however is, that if you read the labels, and use low heat, short drying time, the clothes should be fine. Sunlight is always more gentle with less possibility of damage so if possible, that should always be your first choice.

And what about the time when you should consider stopping the usage of baby detergent which I wrote about in another article? That’s another hot topic discussed among many parents who are busy washing their baby’s clothes.

Once you decide on tumble-drying make sure to read my article specifically about that.

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