10 steps to take the guesswork out of laundering cloth diapers.
There's so many great reasons to use cloth diapers with your little one. But there's one thing that inevitably runs through every mom-to-be's mind when deciding whether to go the cloth route: “POOP?! In my WASHER!??” So, we turned to Wild Was Mama to talk to us about the dirty stuff: laundry. Here's 10 easy steps to keep your cloth diapers clean.
- Realize there is already poop in your washer. (Gasp!) Tiny specks of poop already lived inside your precious washing machine from adult clothing and whatnot, but when baby arrives into the world, those tiny specks become giant globs and huge puddles. Truth: Poop doesn’t stay so well in disposable diapers, meaning it often ends up on baby clothes. Diaper blowouts are chiefly a disposable diapering problem. And then one day, not so far away, when you have a potty training toddler? More poop. We wish we could tell you when the poop will stop, but even bigger kids occasionally are not so good at the finer points of wiping.
- Wash your cloth diapers no less than 2 to 3 times per week. You can try pushing it longer, but it might end up causing more complicated laundry issues. To keep the it simple and straightforward, just suck it up and don’t go longer than 4 days without washing. It is obviously a little easier to run a quick load of wash if you have a machine in your house, but it is possible to wash in a laundromat. The advantage to using a laundromat is that you have access to many machines, so you can spread out several loads of laundry to get it all done at once.
- The poop can wait for its washing. So now that you’ve accepted your laundry situation, what to do with the poop? (Wait for it…) NOTHING! If your baby is exclusively breastfed, you don’t need to do anything. Just throw the diaper in a wet bag (waterproof laundry bag), or the washer, and the water, soap and agitation will wash the poop right out. Exclusively breastfed babies’ poops are relatively unstinky and water soluble.
- But it doesn't have to. If your baby is drinking any formula or has started solids, you will simply hose the poop off the diaper before storing the diaper in your wet bag until wash day. While some people prefer the expediency of dunking dirty dipes in the toilet to rinse them off, or rinsing them out in the sink, a diaper sprayer hooked up to your toilet might simplify things for you and skeeve you out a bit less.
- Line your diaper pail with a wet bag. The diaper pail you use can be as simple as a garbage can lined with a wet bag. This bag gets washed along with your diapers. On laundry day, take your diapers and wet bags and toss them into the washing machine.
- Find a good detergent for cloth diapers. Not all detergents are created equal when it comes to cloth diapering. Diapers are particularly absorbent, and need to be really clean to continue absorbing well and smelling normal. Any detergent with additives or chemicals that are designed to coat the surface of the fabric get stuck in the diaper fibers and make them repellant and/or stinky. Leftover detergent in your diapers can also cause rashes for your babe. If you have your own machine, consider switching all your laundry over to a clean rinsing detergent like Charlie’s Soap. If you’re using shared laundry facilities, a super clean-rinsing detergent can end up just cleaning out the machine instead of your diapers, so best to stick with a less-specialized natural detergent, like BioKleen Premium Plus Powder.
- Follow this washing routine:
-Run one cold wash cycle with detergent, which removes stains and cleans diapers.
-Run a second hot (or extra hot) wash cycle, which sanitizes the diapers and rinses out the detergent.-If you have your own machine at home with a rinse cycle option, some people like to do a cold rinse cycle sans detergent, a hot wash cycle with detergent, and a hot rinse cycle sans detergent to make sure the diapers are totally detergent-free at the end.
- And then, the dryer. When the wash is done, dry anything cotton in the dryer, and consider hanging to dry anything with waterproofing in it (Polyurthane Laminate), like your covers and wet bags. They’ll stay in better condition this way. Also, hanging laundry to dry in the sun is a GREAT way to further sanitize and remove stains.
- You don't have to wash diapers yourself! If you are laundry inept and having a panic attack while reading this, don’t fret! One of our beloved local diaper services, Diaperkind, will drop off a huge sack of clean prefolds in the night and whisk away your dirty ones--like mystical diaper fairies! All you need to supply are the covers.
- But is it really ecologically sound? Yes! While cloth laundering does use more water than a standard load of laundry, it’s also about the same amount of water that you use in a week of flushing the toilet. By contrast, it takes 9 gallons of water to produce a single disposable diaper. Do the math for your own washer, and cloth diapering. From an ecological perspective, cloth diapering always makes more sense.