So, you have a bag, or pile, of fully rinsed dirty cloth diapers and are unsure what to do now. You have come to the right place! If you are looking for information on dealing with solids refer to Part One.
The next step in the cloth diapering journey is transforming dirty diapers back to clean diapers. If you use a diaper service you just hand them in and receive clean diapers ... but not all of us are that lucky! Washing and drying cloth is a bit more involved than regular laundry as there are a few protocols to follow in order to ensure diapers are clean, absorbent, and stain free. In addition, every household is different, washing machines or lack of one, water softness, schedule, and number of diapers will affect which routine works best for you. The best way to discover your ideal routine is trial and error. Check any information that accompanied your diaper to be sure your routine isn't voiding your warrantees, and if you have specific issues research them on diaper forums or share them with us!
There are a few considerations to make when starting your cloth diaper washing journey. On average washing diapers yourself will add two loads of laundry a week (more if you have fewer diapers or just enjoy frequent laundry). You will want to inspect your machine to determine how much water it will allow for your load of diapers. Most front load and high efficiency machines use weight to determine the amount of water used in a cycle. If your machine has a heavy duty, heavily soiled, or extra water option, use it. If you find that still is not enough water to get the diapers moving around you can add a soaking wet bath towel to your load to trick the machine.
A general rule of thumb when washing baby laundry is to be sure you get all the poop and urine off of it, maybe its a diaper, maybe its a leotard or a pair of pants. A good way to be sure is to do a short wash on cold first. I like to run a short cycle to rinse out all the urine as well and help eliminate any buildup inside the diaper.
Next I do a long warm or hot wash with a cloth diaper safe laundry soap or detergent. You want to be sure your diaper absorabency will not be compromised by any build up caused by your detergent. I recommend Charlie's Laundry Soap (if you can find the powdered washing soap you are in luck!) as it cleans thoroughly without leaving anything behind to cause leaks. You may need to use less detergent than you would for a normal load as you do not want anything left behind once the diaper is rinsed (think less bubbles). Many cloth diaper users and diaper companies suggest original powdered tide as the best detergent for diapers, I have never tried it.
After your long cycle and rinse, I do a second rinse to be sure the diapers are fully clean and ready to be dried. This extra rinse is also a great time to add a bit of white vinegar if you have any lingering urine smell in your diapers (you may notice this after a few months and doing a vinegar rinse infrequently can eliminate this issue).
Depending on what type of diaper you are washing you will need to adjust your drying process. Items made of pul or tpu (think waterproof fabrics), generally your covers, pocket diapers, all in ones, and wetbags, should not be dried by machine, but hung to dry. Items made entirely of absorbent material, flats, prefolds, fitteds, etc. can be dried by machine, take care to use a lower setting for items with snaps or other material attached as you do not want them to melt or burn your fabric. unfolding diapers from the washing machine before placing in the dryer can help to be sure they dry efficiently. If you have time to dry your diapers on a line it will help protect the integrity of the material and contribute to a longer diaper lifespan than using the dryer. Do not use dryer sheets as they can cause issues as well.
3. Sunning Your Diapers
If you are like me, you are super excited to show off your diapers at every turn. Take the opportunity to show off a bit and put those diapers out on a clothes line to catch some sun. Sunlight is the friend of your diapers as it can help not only in drying them, but also fades stains and has antibacterial properties. If you want good smelling, good looking, absorbent diapers for many more diaper changes let them bask in the sunlight often. If its winter, take advantage of a sunny window and lay them out on a table or hang them on a rack and grab some rays.
With all this having been said, the most important part of caring for your cloth diapers is to be flexible, and to do what works best for you and your diapers. Have a great tip or funny diaper story? Please share it below, it takes a village to cloth diaper and we all need a laugh everyday!
I am a highly opinionated and sassy mother of three and wife to one. I hope you enjoy reading about my efforts to tackle the infuriating obstacles of life using straight talk and humor. If I say it, I mean it, or maybe I am being sarcastic. I like to focus on topics from my everyday life: parenting, cooking, crocheting, and a whole list of other things that inspire my rage.