.:washing cloth diapers:.
If you’ve made your supply of diapers, then caring for your hard work will be a high priority! Whether purchased or handmade, the method of washing determines how long and well a cloth diaper will last.
SO – how is it best done?
There are several determining factors, many of which are personal preference and/or are dictated by how much time one has to dedicate to the chore.
.:Prologue: sans detergent:.
To the 21st century person the thought of washing clothes without laundry detergent is a bizarre idea. The notion that washing particularly dirty things without this key ingredient seems even more outrageous. While it may seem incomprehensible to wash them without detergent read on to discover why it is the wisest move.
The reason for it is this: washing with commercial laundry soap creates build up in the fibers of the diaper causing it to repel liquid – precisely the opposite of what it needs to do in order to function properly.
If you have read or heard of people ‘stripping diapers’ they are referring to the removal of this film and/or rank smells. Save yourself the frustration by not using detergents!
But how then, you ask, will they be cleaned?!
The answer is so simple and so much cheaper you’ll feel like composing a ditty in its honour.
Allow me to introduce:
A 1:1 combination of the two clean diapers outstandingly. For a medium load a tablespoon of each will leave them smelling pristinely of n o t h i n g. That’s right. It’s brilliant. Want to know more about these magic powders? Then click right here.
There is preparation involved prior to the actual washing of a cloth diaper and these steps are essential to prolonging their lives and keeping them in top working order.
Doing these steps is strongly encouraged each time regardless of the chosen washing method. Firstly, not doing so can/will result in smelling, stinking diapers – a kind that works itself into their fibers and can end up living there in a permanent way. Not only is this unpleasant, it’ll reduce their lives and the tolerance you have for your laundry room…
Secondly, the wash cycle isn’t able to do nearly as good a job on them which can result in partially clean diapers. This build up will cause leakage problems as well as smelly ones.
And lastly, another reason to take this approach is to cut out a washing machine cycle. Many suggest running dirty diapers through on a cold rinse before beginning a proper warm wash. By following the prep below, water and electricity are saved.
a) always rinse out both diaper and inserts following a change. Run them under warm water in the sink, swish and squeeze them out. If tossing a still soiled diaper into a pail and letting it percolate for a few days seems appealing at first, you’ll change your mind.
b) in the event your baby has given you a yellow or brown masterpiece, dump as much of it into the toilet as possible, swish it about then rinse out the remainder in the sink.
c) toss the rinsed diaper and inserts into a plastic pail, bucket or rubbermaid until ready to begin a load (they should be washed every couple of days).
.:by washing machine:.
Virtually every household has a washing machine. If your living situation doesn’t provide you with one, there are alternatives that work very well. Washing alternatives are farther down the page.
a) dump the rinsed diapers and inserts into the washing machine
b) fill a plastic container with warm water (size isn’t an issue). Add 1 tablespoon each of washing soda and borax. Stir to ensure it gets properly dissolved.
c) choose a medium load and a short, warm wash cycle. Add the washing soda/borax solution.
d) run cycle. Line or rack dry.
Hand washing cloth diapers is the ultimate treatment, though is understandably not possible for a lot of families. However, it is a super-wonderful-grand-amazing thing to do for diaper longevity and even doing it every now and then will save them that extra bit more.
a) rinse diapers and inserts as indicated above.
b) when ready to begin a load, fill a large sink or rubbermaid with at least 8 gallons of warm water.
c) sprinkle 1 tablespoon each of washing soda and borax over the water and stir to ensure it’s dissolved well.
d) add diapers and make sure they’re well submerged. Swish and let sit for approximately 15 minutes.
e) take diapers one by one, fold them in half and rub them together, squeeze and squish.
f) if there are any obviously soiled inserts due to yellow or brown masterpieces, apply a stain fighting soap (a handmade cold process laundry bar is perfect for this) and rub vigorously.
g) place washed diapers and inserts into an empty rubbermaid or sink, drain the grey water.
h) rinse inserts that have been soaped separately. Rinse them thoroughly.
i) rinse diapers very well by running them under the tap and hand wringing. This can be cold if preferred.
j) line or rack dry. There will be dripping when using this method so if rack drying, hanging them over the sink or placing a towel, bucket or large rubbermaid to catch the drips is a wise plan.
If you’re looking for alternative ways to wash diapers or want to cut down on water and energy use, then consider a wash pod! We call it a wash pod because it is exceptionally pod like. In actuality it’s called a WonderWash (slightly more difficult way of referring to it, especially when fighting for words in the general sleepless stupor of new parentage).
It is known that washing machines use a behemoth amount of water each load, small or not. Anyone with the unwelcome experience of high electricity bills knows deep down the hot water tank is largely to blame. While on a quest to find an alternative to using hot water in the washing machine, the WonderWash was discovered and put through its paces.
It has an approximate 8 gallon capacity which is able to handle the washing of 30 cloth diapers in two loads.
The only downside of its design is the frame. The frame is flimsy and if you are of the mind, as we certainly were, to crank the handle forcefully, then it wobbles and pitches about (despite the suction cups on the bottom). We fixed it by making it a wooden frame. This 1000% improvement keeps the pod properly balanced and makes it possible to vigorously crank the handle during washes.
a) rinse diapers and inserts as directed in washing prep above.
b) separate diapers and inserts, place diapers into the wash pod.
c) fill pod to about 4 inches below the top opening with warm water.
d) in a small container dissolve 2 teaspoons each of washing soda and borax in warm water. Pour mixture into the wash pod.
e) fasten lid on tightly and crank for a good 2 minutes. Let rest for a few minutes then crank for another minute.
f) drain the grey water into a rubbermaid or if washing outside it can be the ground.
g) refill the pod with rinse water, it can be cold, and crank for 2 minutes. Drain.
h) squeeze* remaining water out of diapers. Line or rack dry.
There will be dripping with this method, so if rack drying, place a rubbermaid, towel or bucket underneath to catch the drips.
* if you happen to have a wringer, they make wringing out inserts a snap. Putting diapers through on a much looser tension can be done too.
Why washboards have fallen out of common use is beyond me. They are magnificent!
When dealing with poop there is nothing more useful or effective.
To get poopy diapers as clean as possible, this is the easiest, best way. Nothing beats it.
a) dump as much poo into the toilet as possible.
b) briefly rinse the diaper under a warm tap, enough to get it wet through.
c) apply a generous amount of a stain fighting laundry bar (interested in making your own? see below).
d) rub the diaper lining against the washboard until it lathers richly.
e) rinse slightly, check to see if any spots have been missed. Rub some more if needed.
f) rinse well, expelling all traces of soap and deposit diaper into holding pail.
This method can be used on heavily wetted diapers as well if the smell is particularly knock-out or there are signs of staining. If diapers are rinsed after each change, pee staining is very unlikely.
.:homemade laundry bars and their wonders:.
If you’re so inclined, making laundry soap is another very useful thing to have. Not only for diaper cleaning but for stain removal of all sorts. Cold process soap making is relatively easy with a few key safety measures and supplies.
A bar made with 100% coconut oil and 0% superfat makes a ridiculously amazing laundry soap that’s able to remove weeks old blood stains. Brilliant, right? The magic it performs on diapers is enough to thrill even the most sleep deprived parent.
If you are already familiar with soaping, a batch of these will be the work of a moment.
Interested in venturing into soap making? this is a perfect, simple place to begin.
But how and what and every other question? Please visit this blog Humblebee and Me. She is extraordinary. Here is the best place to begin, but you’ll likely want to spend hours looking at everything else as well.
It may be a reflex to throw cloth diapers into the dryer. While for the first few washings and wearings, drying them in the drier will actually help them to work more effectively (the dryer seals needle holes in the PUL layer), using the dryer on cloth diapers regularly will shorten their lifespan considerably.
Consider other methods of drying to prolong their lifespan, save energy and a decimal place on your power bill!