Thursday, April 4, 2013

Cloth Diapers Part 3: Washing Procedures and Detergents

Washing can be the scariest and most challenging part of cloth diapers, but it doesn't have to be. As most thing in regards to cloth diapering, once you get a routine down, its just as easy as disposables!

Most cloth diapers will come with basic care instructions. With those instructions, my helpful suggestions on this post and asking other cloth diapering moms, you can come up with an easy washing method that is good for your family

Here is my washing procedure. It's simple, easy and works with our laundry schedule.

  1. Remove wet/soiled diaper and dispose of waste in the toilet (please flush, too!) spray with a diaper sprayer if necessary.
  2. Pull out inserts and throw all parts of soiled diaper into a diaper wet bag
  3. Replace wet diaper with fresh, clean diaper
  4. Once you have a full bag of soiled diapers (or you are running low on diapers) simply empty the contents of your wet bag into the washer
  5. Rinse diapers on a COLD rinse without any laundry soap
  6. Wash the diapers on HOT with a cloth diaper approved laundry soap with the highest level of water possible.
  7. Rinse again on COLD without any laundry soap. (Many washing machines have a cold rinse cycle that automatically happens after a wash) This is optional and is just in case there is any residue left on the diapers.
  8. Remove diapers promptly after washing. Line dry in the sun or place in dryer on LOW.

Facts and myths about washing cloth diapers: 


1. It is ok to wash cloth diapers with any laundry soap.

Many laundry soaps contain chemicals or dyes that can be harmful to cloth diapers. It is important to avoid laundry soaps containing:
  • Fabric softeners
  • Natural/Essential Oils
  • Perfumes
  • UV brighteners
  • Stain guard ingredients
  • Enzymes
Using soaps with these types of products will cause a build-up of residue on the diapers and will cause them to leak and not work properly. If the wrong soap is used or you notice a residue build up on your diapers you can strip your diapers of residues or chemical build up. Find out more about stripping cloth diapers and how to do it:
Stripping Cloth Diapers
Here are some soaps that are great for cloth diapers. They are all natural and wonderful to use on ALL your clothes, not just diapers!
  • Charlie's Soap - This is my personal favorite. The liquid 128oz is around $20 and I used it for all our laundry and it lasted almost a year! Can be found on Amazon and usually at Central Market.
  • All Free and Clear- Probably the easiest to find as it is sold in most retail/grocery stores.
  • Allen's Naturally- Much like Charlie's soap, but a little more expensive. Very good for those who have reactions to other soaps
  • Soap Nuts/Eco Nuts- These are like actual nuts that are dropped into your laundry. The nuts go into a little bag and are dropped into the washing machine like laundry soap, but can be reused up to 10 times!
  • Homemade Laundry Soap- I LOVE my homemade laundry soap. I have used both powder and liquid and found that the liquid seems to work better. Both are very easy to make and very economical!


2. Line drying cloth diapers is better than the dryer.

Although most cloth diapers can be dried in the dryer it is best for the diapers (and for your baby's bum) to dry them in the sun. There are so many benefits to drying your diapers in the sun
  • Bleaching from the sun helps remove pesky stains
  • Line drying will prolong the life of your cloth diapers. (The dryer, even on the lowest setting is rough on diapers, especially the velcro, elastic and snaps)
  • It's more Eco-friendly to line dry because it save electricity and money
** I dry my prefolds in the dryer because it helps them stay fluffy and more absorbent.

3. Soiled diapers will ruin my washing machine.

If you are breastfeeding, here is another wonderful benefit: breastfed baby poop is water soluble. This means that it will dissolve in water and will not get stuck anywhere, or clog anything up inside your washer.  I still try to put as much of it down the toilet as possible anyways.

Now, when your baby starts on solids, your baby's soiled diaper will need to be emptied into the toilet first before being washed in your washing machine. Just simply dump the poop from the diaper into the toilet and flush. For those especially messy diapers there are some wonderful cloth diaper accessories to help you. A diaper sprayer that attaches to your toilet and biodegradable liners are both great helps. Learn more about these on my Cloth Diaper Accessories blog post. 

Here are links to some cloth diaper washing instructions

Washing cloth diapers does not have to be labor-some or gag-worthy. With the right method and maybe a few accessories, it can be just like doing a load of regular laundry. Please feel free to ask any questions in the comments below or email me! Happy cloth diapering!

This is the third post in my Cloth Diapers series. Here are the other Cloth Diaper posts in the series:

Until The Whole World Hears,
Katie <><
Trained Labor Doula
Cloth Diaper Educator

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