Wednesday, August 22, 2012
My Diaper Laundry Routine
I've been asked TONS of times about my cloth diaper/mama cloth washing routine and I can't even begin to count the number of times I've had to sit down and write it all out! To me, it is very worth it to spell out the specifics of a cloth diaper washing routine, because it can be the difference between perfect, stain-free, fresh-smelling, new-looking diapers VS dingy, worn out, stinky, stained, and repulsive diapers.
I've been cloth diapering for over 4 and a half years now (with many more years to come once this new baby arrives!) and TRUST ME, I have been through my various washing routines, I've made my mistakes, I did all the "don'ts", and through this time I've figured out the perfect cloth diaper washing routine that has kept my diapers looking PERFECT! In fact, I've even bought some used diapers before which looked very hopeless (super dark stains, totally dingy, stinky) and today, you would never guess that I didn't buy them brand new!
Keep in mind that this very same wash routine can be used with mama cloth (aka cloth "feminine items") to keep them looking nice!
The #1 rule for keeping your cloth diapers nice is DETERGENT!
Some of the best detergents on the market to use for cloth diapers are Charlie's Soap, Rockin' Green, Tiny Bubbles and similar "Cloth Diaper Specific" laundry detergents. There are also some detergents that you can buy at the grocery store or health food store that are safe to use. Some of the ones I can think of are ECOS, Planet, Country Save, and believe it or not TIDE Original powder (must be original, no added scents or softeners etc) works VERY well with cloth diapers. I've also heard that Tide Free and Clear works just as well. Be sure to get the powder version of any detergent, it's known to work best for diapers. Also, here's a link that goes over all the detergents and their compatibility with cloth diapers. 4 stars means it works great and is safe to use, 1 and 2 stars means DONT use, it could ruin your diapers or cause issues..3 stars means its not the best but it wouldnt hurt it too much. I prefer to stick with the 4 stars, thats how i keep my diapers looking brand new.
Now personally, I use Tide. I've been a long-time Country Save and Rockin' Green user myself, until I moved to a place where we had REALLY hard water! Tide worked the best for me with hard water, and now that we live in the countryside where we have Well Water, Tide is literally now the ONLY thing that works to keep my diapers perfect. I've heard only great things and awesome results from parents who use Tide for their diapers, and it's also locally available, which is a plus! (Please note that the Harder your water is, the more you will want to use a 4-star (from the list) detergent, and not risk using anything less. Also, it helps to use a little bit more detergent than what is recommended for cloth diapers if you have hard water.)
It helps a lot to ask around and find out what type of water you are using: Hard water, Soft water, etc.
Generally, the harder the water, the more carefully you must consider your washing routine.
Pre-Washing Routine - What to do Right After a Diaper Change
- Right after, use, I always rinse my diapers with warm water, even if it was just pee. If I'm using a pocket diaper, I remove the insert from the pocket and rinse both the insert and the pocket cover. I rinse the pee out as best as I can, usually until the water runs clear. (By rinsing out the pee I am helping to prevent ammonia build up in the fibers.) If the diaper is poopy, I pay special attention to try to spray off every bit of poo and brown-ness that I can. This makes it much easier for the diaper to get thoroughly cleaned on wash day.
- For poopy diapers, I spray them with BioKleen Bac-out or Charlie's pre-spray (its not necessary, but it helps to prevent staining from Poop on diapers, and keeps them from getting stinky with use.) and then I put the diaper in the diaper pail or wetbag.
- I never go more than 2 days before the next diaper load (that way it wont get ammonia build-up from the urine, which is possible if you go many days without washing.)
**Please note that this washing routine is best for those using a top-loading washing machine. I do not have experience with washing diapers in a Front-loading or HE machine.**
-1 cold pre-rinse with no detergent (to get out the "nasties")
After the rinse:
-Add around 2 tbs cloth-diaper safe detergent (slightly more for hard water)
-Start the 2nd rinse
-Followed by a Hot wash
-There will usually be another cold rinse that automatically occurs after the wash
-Do a final cold rinse to get out all traces of detergent (this prevents soap residue buildup, and keeps them looking new)
NOTE: Do NOT use liquid fabric softener in your diaper laundry, specifically in the diapers that are synthetic fabrics (like fleece, PUL, microfiber, etc)! Fabric Softener can cause some major build-up issues, as well as cause the diapers to repel (or lose their absorbency).
**Please NOTE that it's best to air-dry any fabrics that are waterproofed with PUL or TPU (which is the glossy-looking fabric under the polyester that you will usually see as the shell of a pocket diaper, AIO, AI2, or cover. Excessive heat to these waterproof fabrics may cause delamination which may result in leaks.**
-Most diapers are safe to put in the dryer. I typically dryer-dry all of my natural fibers diapers and inserts, my microfiber inserts, and cloth wipes.
-Be sure to set the dryer on low heat/tumble dry. This is the most gentle dryer setting and will assist in your diapers lasting longer and looking great!
-For a boost of softness and also to help reduce drying time, I always add 8 (or you can add more!) Wool Dryer Balls to the dryer for my diaper laundry.
NOTE: NEVER EVER use fabric softener sheets in your diaper laundry of any kind! Fabric Softener Sheets/Dryer Sheets cause major build-up issues, as well as cause the diapers to repel.
Air Drying your diapers is a great way to preserve the life of your cloth diapers, while being super Eco-Friendly!
I always hang-dry my pockets and diaper covers to keep the lamination in perfect condition. However, some parents air-dry or line-dry all of their cloth diapers! Some great ways to air dry diapers are:
-Outside on a clothesline
-Using a Drying Rack
-Hanging over a rod, or over coat hangers which are then hung from a rod
-Placed just about anywhere around the house (over the backs of chairs, over the side of the crib, the hand-rail on the stairs, over a balcony, Ive done it all!)
If your diapers (especially the natural fabrics) ever feel "crunchy" or stiff after air-drying them, give them a good wild shaking, they'll usually soften up. If that doesn't work, toss them in the dryer for 5 minutes, and they'll fluff right up!
Note: even if you air-dry every time, it's good to toss your laminate fabrics in the dryer to dry at least once every few months or so. The heat of the dryer will "re-seal" the laminate on the waterproof fabric, keeping it leak-proof.
Using these general "rules of thumb" you can keep your cloth diaper stash (and your mama cloth!) looking nice and new, and smelling fresh!
Well, I just heard the dryer go off! Time for me to go fold some nice fluffy diaper laundry! =)