As promised, a post describing how we get our cloth diapers so fresh and so clean. If you ask twenty people how they wash their diapers, you are going to get twenty different answers. It’s definitely the part of the process that confused me the most before we began, so I hope this will be helpful for at least a starting point.
I’ve read horror stories of the wrong kind of detergent causing all kinds of problems with cloth diapers, from stinkiness and staining to repelling and leaking. I was really hopeful that we’d avoid those problems by starting off with a well-loved detergent. I prepped our diapers when I received them by washing them in Rockin’ Green. Their detergent is free of dyes, enzymes, whiteners and brighteners, and actually perfect for all laundry, not just diapers. Rockin’ Green is available in six natural scents, and also in unscented, which is good if you’re worried about voiding the warranty on your BumGenius diapers (which technically should be washed in “fragrance-free” detergent).
You’re not here to learn how to wash brand new diapers though, so let’s cut to the poop chase. When my guy was exclusively breastfed before starting solids, the poop could go straight in the washer where it was easily rinsed away (yes really, bear with me here). The diapers go straight from baby to diaper pail to washer. I drag the bag of diapers and wipes (we use Kissa’s antibacterial pail liners as bags) down to the washer, dump the diapers into my front loader, turning the bag inside out and shoving it in behind the diapers.
The first step in our routine is a cold rinse with no detergent. Here are the settings that I use on my Frigidaire Affinity front-loader:
Fancy, right? Ugh, no. The funny thing about washing cloth diapers is that a regular old school top-loading washing machine actually does a much better job. This is because a higher water level is better for getting your diapers really clean. You can still use your HE washer though, you just have to get a little sneaky. I have two ways of tricking my washer into putting out a little more water. Number one – I do the first rinse on the “Delicates” setting. I picked that tip up on a cloth diapering message board (see! I’m not the only one who is fascinated!) and it really works. The second trick is to throw a heavy wet towel in with your diapers. You’re also better off doing a full load of diapers. I’ve heard that the ideal number to wash at once is 24.
Once the buzzer goes off on that cycle, I add two tablespoons of Rockin’ Green to the washer.
Then I choose the “Heavy” setting with the following options:
The extra rinse is key. If you don’t have that choice, you can always run another quick cold cycle at the end.
For now I’m drying these in the dryer. I did put a note on hubs’ to-do list though, to install a clothesline for me so that I can dry them in the sun soon. I really should at least separate out and air dry the covers, which dry much faster than the absorbent inserts. But I’m lazy. So it all gets thrown in the dryer for about an hour. When they come out of the dryer, I totally stick my nose in them and give them a good whiff. Mmmmm clean diapers.
There are a million different ways to wash your diapers and almost as many detergents to try. Here is a list of cloth diaper detergents that seem to be the most popular:
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