Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Fluffy Stuff Monday...on a Tuesday: How to wash cloth diapers

I thought about posting yesterday, tried to get it done but it didn't happen. Maybe I was too ambitious to try to post on certain days? After all things can be unpredictable with a little one! Maybe I was just building up the anticipation for this post, I know you've been dying to know how to wash your fluff!

Actually, this is one of the questions I am most asked. Of course its a big concern because, I mean, what do you do with the poop? Will it come out in the wash? Will it ruin my washer? How do I get the smell out? How do I remove stains? What detergent do I use?

So here's the haps:

1. Wash diapers on a cold cycle, without detergent.
2. Wash them again in hot water, with detergent.
3. Do an extra rinse.
4. Dry in dryer on low or line dry.
5. To remove stains hang clean, wet diapers in the sun.

And that's it! Everything washes right out of your diapers and if your diapers are clean, your washer is clean. Wash routines can vary based on the type of washer you have, but this is basically what you need to do. If you do less than this, your diapers will not get as clean, although you may need to do extra rinses. For example, front loaders use less water and so you need to figure out how get some extra water in the wash/rinse cycles because this is definitely not the type of laundry that benefits from water saving measures.

Now let's talk about poop, shall we? Washing at the beginning is very easy; exclusively breastfed or formula fed poop washes right out of diapers no problem. It can stain though, and a day in the sun can do wonders for stained diapers. Even meconium washes out very easily (although it definitely stains). 

Once baby begins eating solid foods there are some extra steps. Poop needs to be thrown in the toilet. You can use a diaper sprayer that hooks up to the side of the toilet to spray the poop off of the diaper. You can also use flushable liners (they look and feel similar to a used dryer sheet), that work by being laid on top of the diaper next to baby's bottom and then can be lifted and dropped straight into the toilet. Then continue with your diaper routine. Roo hasn't started solids yet so I have no first hand experience with this, but I'll let you know when it happens! 

What about detergent? I could write an entire post on detergents, but the best type of detergent to use is one that is safe for cloth diapers. Most brands have one they also produce or can recommend other specific detergents. The most popular are Country Save detergent, Allen's Naturally, Charlie's Soap, and Rockin Green. Some people have good luck using free & clears, but most diaper companies don't recommend these. Check out these detergent chart comparisons at Diaper Jungle and Pinstripes and Polkadots. Most detergents have enzymes, brighteners, and other additives that can compromise the quality of the material in diapers, and can build up on the diaper causing leakage issues and skin irritation. 

If you have hard water, make sure to use a hard water specific detergent. Regular detergents have an additive to fight hard water, while homemade and more natural detergents do not. If you use a more gentle laundry soap in hard water, the detergent will spend its time working to fight off the extra minerals in hard water instead of washing your diapers and they won't get as clean. You'll have more odor, leakage, and repelling problems. 

And that's the basics for your cloth diaper laundry routine! 


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