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July 29, 2014

Cleaning Cloth Diapers

Doing your own cloth diaper laundry is not for the faint of heart.
I can tell you that I touch pee filled inserts.
I inspect poopy diapers and hand rinse if things are too intense.
I smell diapers out of the drier.

None of this is gross to me.

The main thing you need to know: There are options. Please do what works best for you and your baby’s bum!
If you do things incorrectly you can risk your baby battling rashes or worse, ammonia burn.

There are things to take into account.
Every child is different.
Everyone has different washers, water quality and cleaning agents.
 And each is a huge factor in finding the wash routine that works best for you and your child.
Brand new, never used diapers need to be prepped before use in order to ensure that their absorbent enough to be used.
Synthetic fiber and Bamboo (or bamboo blends) can be prepped like any other load of laundry. 
Wash, dry, use. 
Hemp and cotton just need to be washed twice in hot water, then dry.

With Pre-Loved Diapers, your best bet is to strip them to be sure that you are in control f what goes on your baby's bum. You never know what the diapers have been through or what they were washed with.
A RLR soak will break down any bacteria holding mineral deposits left on the diaper.
A 30 minute cold bleach soak with clean diapers will disinfect.
Non-HE washer: 
Small- 1/3 cup
Medium- 1/2 cup
Large/XL- 3/4 cup
HE TL (or FL WITH a dispenser you trust)
Small- 1/4 cup
Medium- 1/3 cup
Large- 1/2 cup
1/2 full- 1/2 cup
3/4 full- 3/4cup- 1cup
Smaller container: 
1 Tablespoon per gallon of cold water

After bleaching, rinse with HOT water, and follow with a HOT wash with detergent to completely break the bleach down!

After a diaper is used, depending on how old your baby is, there may be steps to take before washing.
Some parents use a diaper sprayer, which is attached to the toilet, to get solids off the diaper.
Others use the 'Dunk and Swish'
You guessed it.
Dunk it in the toilet, swish it around.
Others, mainly with babies who are not on solids yet, wait for the washer to do all the work.

Next would be the Diaper Pail.
Diaper pails can either be dry or wet.

A wet pail isn't recommended due to the drowning risk in having a bucket full of water left around.

Dry pails are generally a hamper or basket, sometimes with a waterproof PUL liner, where dirty diapers are placed until wash day.
Closed pails have lids, open pails do not.
There is a crowd that says that Homemade Detergent goes hand in hand with cloth due to the chemicals you leave out of the equation.
Others say that Cloth Diaper Detergent is the only way to not ruin your diapers.
Others say that Mainstream Detergents (without fabric softener) is the only way to truly get your diapers clean.

I want to point things out about each ‘camp’.

DIY Detergent:
I fell for the DIY hype. I thought that I had found an alternative for the harsh chemicals that are in mainstream detergents. I thought that it would be better for my extremely sensitive skin. What I didn’t know was  the DIY's are mostly mixture of water softeners like Borax, Washing Soda, Baking Soda, boosters, like Oxi and grated/melted soap. 
The biggest argument against DIY: Have you ever heard of soap scum? Yeah, your main cleaning agent, if it is even used, leaves a nasty residue in your shower...
You think it wont leave residue on your clothes and especially your diapers?
Another point, water softeners and boosters are not cleaning agents

Cloth Diaper Specific Detergent:
The “cloth diaper safe” so-called detergents are extremely weak if they include any surfactants at all. The people who started the “cloth diaper safe” detergents are telling you to use just tablespoons of their booster to remove fecal matter from your soiled diapers because their mix is so expensive.
The choice if yours, just make sure that you do your research on the ingredients in your cloth safe detergent.

Mainstream Detergent (without fabric softeners):
Detergent is molecularly designed to rinse clean in water.
 Absolutely any mainstream detergent (without fabric softener) is fine for cloth diapers. Some may work better than others, depending on your water type or washer.  
People can have sensitivities, sure, and may prefer Free & Clear detergents, but the diapers themselves are not affected by anything other than synthetic fabric softener.
So if you want tropical smelling diapers... Go for it!

Now we are to the nitty-gritty.
What you all have been waiting for...

My Wash Routine
I can only share with you what works for me.

1. Rinse/spin *DIAPERS ONLY* warm with line 2 of detergent.
2. Heavy duty power wash *Add normal load of laundry* hot with full cup of detergent.
3. Dry Normal with a 10 minute timed dry at the end if needed.

If there happens to be any staining,  I set the diapers and inserts out in the sun for 30-60 minutes then do a quick wash.
The sun visually bleaches the stains then rinse again to open the stain particles and remove them with the friction of the washer.

 Properly cleaned diapers will never smell after washing, will not repel liquids, and will not cause rashes or burns on your baby. If you find yourself needing to strip or bleach your diapers due to any of these issues, it is an indicator that they are not properly cleaned and you need to change your wash routine. Properly cleaned diapers will not require stripping or bleaching.

We never will suggest to just bleach and be done. Or just sun them and be done. We always follow it up with something that will open the fibers and use friction to release the particles. Always. 

There you go!
If you have any questions or want more information, feel free to check out the Facebook group that opened my eyes, saved my diapers and wallet!


Darby Hawley said...

Love these tips Erin! Thank you!!

Angela Tozier said...

I noticed you addressed the three camps as DIY, cloth specific, and mainstream. Its obvious that you are of the mainstream camp, which is totally fine but what about those of us who don't necessarily use "cloth safe" detergents but would prefer more natural ingredients. I have used non mainstream detergent for about 5 years now on all my clothes, including diapers with no issues. I mean, after all, I got into cloth diapers initially for the environmental/less toxins reason anyhow, so most mainstreams are counter-intuitive for me anyway. Sometimes it bugs me that people insinuate that only mainstream detergents can clean diapers. In my 2.5 years of cloth diapering, I have never bleached. I did have some tweaking to do because of hard water and being new to cloth diapers and washing them( no fb groups when I started) and I got rid of microfiber once realized it wasn't a good match for us, but I really wasn't that difficult. So I guess I'm in the "uses more natural not necessarily cd specific detergents (not DIY and I don't use Borax anyway)that include all the important ingredient that constitute detergent" I have used soap nuts, Ecos, Biokleen, Molly's suds and Charlie's soap all with success. I now stick with Molly's suds and Charlies soap - love their hard water booster. All of our clothes are clean too. Tide and mainstream detergents aren't the end all be all to cloth diapering, nor is it the solution to everything ( not that you are necessarily saying that, but its the vibe I get from many of the mainstream camp people giving advice out there and it quite irks me I guess)