Today, we're going to talk about how you wash
your cloth diapers and how to get rid of stains!
How do you wash your cloth diapers?
In your regular home washing machine. Or a Laundromat if need be. Or, if you are really tight on money or don't have access to a machine, get flats and wash them by hand or in a camp style washer (bucket with plunger type of thing). I know some people can’t fathom the idea of washing a poopy diaper in the same washing machine that washes their clothes <gasp!>. Seriously, just get over it. When the disposable diaper blows out and your baby gets poop all over their onsie you don’t just throw it away. You rinse it and wash it. Same with cloth diapers. Rinse the poop away and put it in the pail. Then wash them ever other day or so.
If you were to ask 100 cloth diapering families about their wash routine, you'd likely get 100 different answers. Depending on your machine (top vs. front loader) and it’s settings you’ll have to figure out a routine that works for you. You could probably Google the type of machine you have + cloth diapers and there will likely be a lot of different threads and posts about how people clean their diapers.
Detergent use is well debated topic. Many cloth diaper companies will tell you that you must use a cloth diaper safe detergent without additives (or whiteners or brighteners) or it will void your diaper’s warranty. There are several brands – bumGenius, Rockin’ Green, Little Love Buns, just to name a few. For me personally (and a lot of other cloth diapering folks out there - especially those with hard water), the CD safe detergents just weren't getting my diapers clean enough. What works and for me is Tide Free & Gentle. I’m not overly concerned about the warranty on my diapers because I have a pretty large stash, but if you’re strapped for cash then you might want to try CD safe detergents first and see if they’ll work for you and your water type.
A safe bet for a wash routine is this: a regular cold wash without detergent, followed by a regular hot wash with detergent, then an extra rinse at the end. You can try this first and then tweak it to find what works best for you. Your diapers should come out of the washing machine smelling clean (or like nothing actually). If they don't, rewash them and consider changing up your routine or detergent.
Here is my typical wash routine (in my Samsung HE frontloader): Pre-rinse on COLD with no spin, then heavy duty wash on HOT with extra rinse (using Tide F&G up to the “1” line), then I do an additional rinse at the end. I hang the shells/covers and stained inserts out to dry (outside preferably) and tumble dry the other inserts and wipes. The whole washing process takes a while – like 2.5 hours – but I don’t mind doing diaper laundry for some reason. Just a quick note, I rinse every dirty diaper (pee or poop) before it goes in my diaper pail and I think it's prevented me from having problems with ammonia.
What about stains? Well, have no fear – the sun magically bleaches away most poo stains you will run into. Just place your freshly clean, wet diaper/insert/whatever out in direct sunlight and in a few hours the stain will be gone. Just make sure you place them cotton/suede cloth/fleece side up. Live in a cooler climate? No worries, just place your stained diapers in direct sunlight by a window and that will usually work too.
Join me tomorrow and we'll talk about how to prep your cloth diapers!