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Cloth Diaper Wash Routine Made Simple

Lately, I have been again fielding a lot of calls about stinky diapers and babies with rashes.  When I ask people to describe their was routine, I get some very long and complicated sounding stories. Cloth diapers should be simple. Cloth diapers should not add time and money to your life. Cloth diapers are the dirtiest laundry in your house and they need to be treated just like dirty laundry.

A basic wash routine for cloth diapers should consist of these things:

  • Always store dirty diapers in a ventilated container- the more air and light your diapers get while waiting for the wash cycle to start the better.

  • Start with a cold rinse cycle with enough water to cover the diapers in a top loader and a small/ med load size setting in a front loader ( adding a towel or a few pieces of laundry during this process with a front loader that will not allow you to set load size may be helpful) You want the majority of the gross stuff- poop and pee – to go down the drain now so that you are washing the diapers in “clean “ water.

  • After the rinse and spin cycle is done fill your washer with other laundry. All washers work best when they are about ¾ full front loaders and newer energy saving top loaders without agitators especially. Clothes need things to rub against to get clean without different weights of laundry in your machine your diapers just fill with soapy water and float or flop around not getting as clean and they could or should.

  • Match your water level- load size and detergent amount. Its really that simple small loads – small water level and small detergent amount – large loads (ideal) large water level and large detergent amount. With free and clear or all natural detergents you may need to add at least a small loads worth extra to make sure diapers come clean as these detergents are weaker than other mainstream detergents.

  • Then, wash (hot) and rinse as normal.

  • Dry diapers using whatever method the manufacture recommends. Most can me machine dried but some covers may need to be line dried only.

There are of course exceptions to every rule and there are circumstances that may require extra attention.

Hard water: You may need to add a water softener such as Calgon to your wash cycle each time you do laundry to allow your detergent to properly dissolve and form suds. You don't want giant frothy bubbles but you want suds to show up when the washer starts.

Used diapers may need to be sanitized before use and any time your child has battled yeast or a bacterial infection you will want to sanitize diapers - this can be done by running a cold wash cycle with a half cup of bleach in cold water then washing as normal with detergent. Bleach should not be used on a regular basis as it shortens the life of elastic and PUL.

Diapers that have been washed or dried with fabric softener may need to be washed on the hottest normal wash cycle with the max amount of detergent or if petroleum or zinc based rash creams have been used you may need to scrub the diapers with a small amount of dish soap and a soft brush then rinse and wash as normal on the hottest water with max detergent. These products interfere with absorbency and are really hard to get out with just a cold water.

Proper washing should prevent odors and rashes from happening and will avoid the need to spend time and energy stripping diapers.

Please feel free to contact us about diaper washing any time so we can help you get the best wash routine going.

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