I have been meaning to post about washing cloth diapers for a while but never really know where to start. Everyone I know washes diapers a little differently, but there is the basic outline that everyone sticks to. The reason in the different ways we all wash diapers is that we all have different washing machines, water quality (soft/hard), and diapers.
Here is the basic “How to wash cloth diapers” that everyone starts with
1. Put the diapers in the wash and run a cold cycle with an extra rinse without detergent. Make sure your water settings are set to “large load”. The more water you use, the better. This just rinses the diapers and any extra big “deposits” left on them. If you have pockets be sure to un-stuff them before putting them into the wash. I unstuff them before putting them into the laundry bag so I don’t have to deal with smelly 4 day old urine/poop when I am doing laundry.
2. Change the cycle setting to Hot/Cold with the extra rinse and add detergent. What detergent you use will depend on what you like, what works with your diapers and what you can afford. More on detergent below.
3. Run another laundry cycle on cold with no detergent as an extra rinse for your diapers. Some people just run an extra cold rinse, some people run the whole cycle. This will depend on your washer and how well your diapers rinse. I have to do two wash/rinse cycles after the original wash because my washer sucks so badly. If I do not do the extra cycles then my diapers get build up and smelly. I believe this step is why so many people have build up/smell issues in their diapers, they just do not get all the detergent out at every wash. I know all the extra cycles are not as “green” as we want BUT it is better than having smelly build up diapers that give our babies rashes. E hardly ever gets diaper rash.
I have an old crappy washer that needs some love. It was making some very bad noises today doing a not so large load of clothes. I think it might be nearing its retirement age. Having an old crappy washer means I do need those extra rinses.
A friend of mine has an HE washer and this is her regimine for washing her diapers:
We do one rinse/spin cycle (no detergent),then I add a couple soaking wet towels to the load (otherwise the machine doesn’t use enough water) and do a heavy-duty cycle, hot water, extra rinse. That usually does the trick, but sometimes if it’s a bigger load I do another rinse/spin at the end. It took some experimenting to figure out what worked for our machine, but with this routine we haven’t had build up issues in forever, so I’m pretty happy about that! – Alison P.
The kind of detergent you use will depend on the type of washer you have (HE washers need to have very low suds detergents), what type of water you have (hard/soft), and how your diapers handle detergent. We have very sensitive skin in this house, and hard water so I prefer to use the un-scented Hard Rock laundry detergent. It works great for us. I know people who hate that brand. You can always make your own detergent, or get one of the many cloth diaper safe detergents. There are great lists out there that tell you the best cloth diaper detergents so you don’t have to feel so lost in the woods.
A fair warning, if the detergent you are using has artificial colors/scents/fabric softeners they are not good for your diapers. You at best will have build up and diaper rash issues, and worst might ruin your diapers and have to throw them out because they wont absorb anything! Be fore warned.
Also, if you use those detergents on your regular clothes, and use the same washer to wash your diapers, even with the cloth diaper safe detergent, you still might have build up issues. I suggest stripping your washer before starting to cloth diaper, and sticking to natural laundry detergents for all of your laundry needs so you do not have to worry about build up issues and cross contamination.
As I said earlier, everyone washes their diapers a little bit differently. Do what works best for you, but remember, it never hurts to run that extra rinse cycle if your diapers are getting a little extra build up/smell.
How do you wash your diapers?