If you're a mom using cloth diapers for your baby you probably love it! You love knowing that you're doing the very best for your baby's skin and health, you love the adorable patterns and colors of the diaper covers, and you love that you are doing your part for the environment and landfills!
But you also know the importance of the diaper-washing routine and that it can be time consuming to do it correctly. Washing your baby's cloth diapers does not have to be a daunting task! Let's talk about some ways to save you time and ensure your diapers and the cleanest and freshest they can be for your baby.
Before You Start Washing--Get Organized
The key to a simplified cloth diaper-washing routine is organization. It's best to wash your diapers every 2-3 days and if you have set days and times instead of letting them pile up for days and days, the process with be faster and the diapers will be easier to clean.
Another way to stay organized is to have a place to store your ready-to-use diapers--drawers, shelves, baskets--have a system so as you wash them, you can assemble the diapers the way you want them, with liners, different styles of diapers, etc. so they are ready to go and always on hand. If you have a great storage set-up, it will make putting the diapers away on laundry day so much easier.
It's important to have plenty of diaper supplies on hand--you might want a variety of wet bags so when you're out with baby or if baby is in daycare or visiting friends and family, there is always a place to put the soiled diapers until you can wash them. You might want more than one diaper pail in the house--besides the nursery, it can be helpful to keep one in the bathroom or on another level of the house.
Now let's go over some steps in the laundry process to keep your routine running smoothly:
Rinsing off any solid waste from the diaper into the toilet is a key step to keeping your laundry routine quick and easy. The sooner you get the solid waste off the diaper, the better! If you have been out and the diapers are waiting in a wet bag, try to do it as soon as you get home. This will help prevent stains and odors from setting in.
The best way for a quick and easy rinse is to have a water sprayer attached to your toilet. These are inexpensive devices that connect to your toilet's water line and have a handheld sprayer that provides powerful water pressure. This way you can just spray the waste right into the toilet and flush it away.
Click the picture to buy The Purrfectzone diaper sprayer
Pro tip! Some moms highly recommend a "diaper shield" so when you're spraying off the diaper into the toilet everything is contained there. There are plenty of options online to purchase both sprayers and shields.
Dirty Diaper Storage
As mentioned above, it's a good idea to keep another diaper pail near where you spray your diapers--maybe in the bathroom or laundry room where you keep the sprayed off diapers until laundry day.
After you have sprayed them, wring them out and keep in a well-ventilated pail. It might seem counter-intuitive, but the more air flowing through the pail, the better, so don't keep a tight lid on it. Many moms keep the top off completely and swear there is no smell! The tighter you have it sealed, the more opportunity for mold and mildew to build up--so let those diapers breathe!
Depending on your washing machine and settings, this might be different for everyone, but try to get those rinsed-off diapers in for a prewash that rinses, agitates, and spins. This does not have to be a long cycle, but you want a good detergent-less wash.
As far as water temperature goes, there are a lot of opinions, so you might have to play around and find what works best for you. Thee are proponents of cold, warm, and hot water for this stage! You will find the one that does the right job for your diapers.
This step will get any extra waste off that you may have missed in the spraying step and will loosen up the fibers so the next cycle can really get in there and clean.
The Washing Cycle
Please make sure you are using a detergent that is designed specifically for cloth diapers! It might seem easier to just use what you have on hand--but this is important! Also make sure to not use too much or too little. Too little will obviously not get the diapers clean enough, but too much can cause problems and build-up on the diapers.
Again, like with anything, you might have to do a little experimentation to find the right amount for you. Depending on your level of water hardness, this amount may vary for everyone, so find your perfect amount per diaper and stick with that.
Pro tip! It is said that one tablespoon of detergent per diaper being washed is a good amount so that might be a good place to start.
Another pro tip! Do not wash more than 12-18 diapers at a time.
For this washing cycle you want the water to be HOT. Remember that these pieces of cloth are dirty and you want to get every bit of bacteria out of there, so don't be afraid to use the hottest water possible. The heat will break down the stains and kill the bacteria, plus the detergent needs this hot water to interact with its properties so it can work. Using hot water and the right detergent should have your diapers like new!
Pro tip! Use the washing machine cycle with the longest agitation at this stage. On some machines this will be called "heavy duty" or "extra heavy" or something similar.
The Rinse Cycle
This cycle is to get any remaining detergent off and many moms recommend doing it twice. If your washer has a setting for an extra rinse, go ahead and do that--if not, you will have to do it manually.
This is another step where the water temperature is somewhat controversial, so you might have to play around with it. Some recommend one rinse in hot and one in cold.
Pro tip! Do not add any fabric softeners to your diaper laundry. It will cause build-up in the material and it's not good for baby's skin.
- Some moms recommend adding half a cup of baking soda to the wash cycle. Baking soda can help neutralize odors instead of just just covering them up. If you have any issues with ammonia smell or "barnyard" smell, consider adding some baking soda. This is NOT a substitute for detergent, but an addition.
Adding a half-cup to a cup of white vinegar to the RINSE cycle is another possibility for keeping diapers clean-smelling. It's important that you don't add it earlier than that or it will neutralize the detergent. It can also help to prevent detergent build-up which is a big plus.
Another controversial subject--to bleach or not to bleach! In general, bleach will shorten the lifespan of your diapers, so you probably don't want to do it regularly, but every now and then you might need to. If you do, use no more than 1/4 cup and no more than once a month and add to the bleach dispenser on your washing machine. Apparently, bleach is the only sure way to kill yeast on the diapers--but, again, this is a controversial subject in the cloth diapering world, so do what's right for you!
Again, you don't want to use too often, but an addition of an oxygen bleach, such as OxiClean, to your hot water wash might really help with stains and odors.
Grapefruit Seed Extract
Some moms add 10-15 drops of grapefruit seed oil into the wash as a diaper sanitizer. The say the scent really freshens up the diapers--just don't use too much!
Time to Dry
If you have the outdoor space, hanging you diapers in the sun is said to be the best way to dry them. The natural bleaching and disinfectant properties of the sun is a sure to get your diapers the freshest they can be. Using this method can also prolong the life of your diapers as it is easier on the snaps, elastic, etc.
Of course, hanging them is a time-consuming step and you must have the proper space but don't worry--using your dryer is fine too! Just keep it on a low or medium setting and don't add any fabric softening sheets.
Pro tip! Adding wool drying balls to your dryer can cut down on drying time!
Hopefully some of these tips will help you work out an easy and convenient washing schedule for your baby's diapers! You want to spend as much time with your beautiful baby and as little time doing laundry as possible, so play around with these tips and develop a routine that's right for you. With the correct tweaking, you will enjoy the world of cloth diapering and all the benefits it has for your baby and the environment.
Q1. What cycle do you wash cloth diapers on?
Use a pre-rinse or “speed wash” cycle with cold water and NO detergent. This will help to loosen up any lingering muck. This also reduces the potential for staining. (Some people use a small scoop of OxiClean, others swear by opting for no detergent during cold, pre-rinse cycle method.)
Q2. How do you wash a cloth diaper routine?
- STEP 1: Remove solids. First, toss poop from the diaper directly into the toilet bowl.
- STEP 2: Store. After rinsing, toss the dirty diaper into a diaper pail or waterproof bag until you're ready to run a load.
- STEP 3: Wash.
- STEP 4: Dry.
Q3. How often do you do laundry with cloth diapers?
Two or three days.
Staining, residual stinkiness, and diaper wear and tear can be reduced by how often you do laundry. Going more than a couple of days can result in mildew stains, or more washes to get the diapers clean. It's best to do cloth diaper laundry every two or three days.
Q4. Is it sanitary to wash cloth diapers in washer?
It's absolutely safe to wash cloth diapers in your washing machine, but you shouldn't mix them with any other clothing items. It's also highly important you wash off soiled diapers before adding them to the machine. It's best if you give them a quick rinse immediately after they are soiled.
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