When someone thinks about cloth diapering, I think the most intimidating part is washing them after they’ve been used. Do not despair, once you get a basic knowledge it’s nothing to be feared, in fact it is one of my favorite parts of cloth diapering.
First things first, know what detergent to use. Cloth diapers can’t be washed with most “normal” detergents. Most contain additives and fragrances that cause a build up on the diapers. When a buildup has accumulated on them they stop absorbing moisture and become very stinky. Fabric softeners are also a huge No-No and should never be used with cloth diapers or wipes. They will also waterproof the diapers that are supposed to be absorbent (also for reference you should never use fabric softener with towels because the same thing happens).
So what detergents do you use? Here is a helpful chart that I found online. I use Charlie’s Soap for my family. It is the greatest laundry detergent I have ever used. You only need a very small amount, it is eco friendly, and can be used in High Efficiency machines. It gets our clothes cleaner than anything I have ever seen and they come out smelling great and soft as ever. It has no perfumes and is safe for the most sensitive skin. I buy mine at Earth Fare for now, but when we move I will order it from barefoot-eco.com.
I have done tons of research and have read all kinds of different ways that people wash their diapers. Lots of cloth diapering mamas care for their diapering systems in different ways. Here is a step by step guide for how I wash my cloth diapers.
First of all, I put all the diapers in the washing machine and run a cold rinse cycle with no soap. After that is complete I add soap and run a regular Hot wash cycle. When that is finished they get dried on the clothesline on sunny days or in the dryer on cold or stormy days. It should be noted that the poop of exclusively breastfed babies does not need to be cleaned off before going in the washing machine. It sounded weird to me at first but we have not had the slightest problem with it at all. If your baby is formula fed or has started eating solid food, the poop needs to be rinsed off before going in the washing machine. Most people rig a dish sprayer to their toilet and spray the poop into the toilet and flush it. If you don’t like this, some manufacturers make flushable liners that can be dumped in the toilet and flushed.
Line drying the diapers is a little more of a pain, but there are a bunch of really great benefits of it. First of all, the sunshine kills all the bacteria in the fabric. It also bleaches most stains out of the diapers and makes the white items really white. I also love the smell of line dried clothes. Drying in a clothes dryer does work just fine though and you should never feel guilty for using your dryer, after all, when you have a new baby and are cloth diapering and worrying about a million other things, you may not have the time to hang all the clothes out on the line.
As far as storing dirty diapers, there are two major methods. They are dry pail and wet pail. It is just like it sounds. Dry pail is just a place to put the diapers until they are washed. This is the method I use and I use a kitchen sized garbage can. Wet pail is where you use the same type of container, but it is filled with water or some solution to fight stains and keep the odor low. If you plan on cloth diapering, you will just have to look at the positive and negative things and see what fits your situation the best.
We did not really know what to expect when we first started cloth diapering. Having done it now for three months, I can say that it is very easy on us. We wash diapers two to three times a week, which is not that much extra laundry. We were expecting to be doing laundry so much more, but diapers are about half of the extra laundry generated by a baby. I would say that we end up washing our clothes that get spit up on a lot more than diapers.
*I have not been paid or compensated for reviewing the products listed in this post. I’m just a cloth diapering mama wanting to inform other cloth diapering families.