With the right routine, washing cloth diapers can be a breeze. For us, it took a bit of trial and error but oh so worth it!
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Over the past couple of years I have done a ton of experimenting with cloth diapers. I’ve tried out many different brands and styles of cloth diapers. From wool covers to flats you name it and I have probably tried it!
Not only have I experimented with the cloth diapers themselves but also our wash routine. We have been through two different washing machines, 5 brands of detergent, and various tips and tricks from other cloth diapering moms. I’ve washed daily and even waited a week at times. I’m no expert by any chance but I’d definitely say that I have more than dipped my toes into the world of cloth!
I’ve had several questions about cloth diapers but one of the main ones I get is “How do you wash your diapers?” I thought it was time I finally made everyone a post so here it goes!
I’ll start off by saying that my wash routine may or may not work for you. Several things play into factor when it comes to properly washing diapers. Water hardness, type of detergent, and your washing machine are all factors. For more information, head on over to Fluff Love University for all things cloth diaper related!
Dirty Diaper Storage
After removing a dirty cloth diaper you’ll need a place to store it until wash day. Some people use pails with a liner but all I have ever done is used wet bags. I have one large Applecheeks brand and another from Planet Wise.
For wet diapers I simply toss it into the wet bag and reuse the cover. After the cover has been used about 3-4 times I’ll also toss it into the wet bag as well.
For those glorious poo diapers I do things a bit differently. For exclusively breastfed babies (no solid food or formula) they can be placed directly into the wet bag but for older babies the waste needs to be removed before putting it in your washing machine.
Since my shower head reaches the toilet all I do is give the poop a spray and then the diaper goes into the wet bag. Easy peasy!
Typically, I wash diapers every 3-4 days but have done daily in the past and at one point waited a week before washing. All methods worked out!
It may come as a shock to most but I do NOT use a homemade or an all natural detergent. Unfortunately homemade detergents do not have the ability to clean human waste. It may work for you and that’s great but I can assure you that for me and my hard water it wouldn’t end well.
As far as natural detergents go, there are several options to choose from. Seventh Generation has a few different plant based detergents that work well for many. However, these didn’t work for us either…
Although I really didn’t want to use it, Tide powder is the top choice for cloth diaper detergent. In my moments of frustration I decided to give it a try and it was a hard pass. Wren broke out in a rash both times I attempted!
We used Gain liquid for quite a while and it seemed to work pretty good but always left a bit of a detergent build up. This also led to rashes.
After reading that powder was often a better idea for cloth diapers I gave Gain in the powder form a try. Ding ding! We have a winner! This detergent has worked wonders and we are rash free.
It is important to know exactly how hard or soft your water is when using cloth diapers. If you have too soft of water then chances are you’ll need an extra rinse. However, with hard water (like us) you need to add a water softener to prevent mineral buildup on the diapers.
You can get a water hardness test kit from Amazon. Super easy to use! Just dip the strip in water and match the color to the numbers. You only need to do this one time unless you move of course!
I chose to use Borax as a water softener but Calgon is another alternative.
Diapers need to be washed twice. The first wash is called a prewash which is done to remove most of the urine.
First, I turn my knobs on the washer to read “light” “cold” and “large load”
Then I measure out 1/4 cup of Borax and line 2 of Gain powder.
Lastly, I toss the diapers in and let them do their thing!
Now that you have removed most of the nasty from the cloth diapers you can do the main wash.
I remove the diapers from the machine and “fluff them” so they can properly agitate.
For my diapers I like to wash on hot in the main wash. I turn the knob to read “heavy”
I measure out 1/2 cup of Borax and line 4 of Gain powder.
Toss the diapers back in the machine and you’re done!
Air Dry or Machine Dry?
Both options are completely fine to use but I prefer line drying for a couple of different reasons. Number one is to save energy and two, the sun is a natural stain remover so win win right there. On rainy days or if I’m in a major hurry I do use the dryer but do my best to line dry as much as possible.
The last step in washing diapers is the folding and putting away. I’m probably not the best person to offer advice on this because I am the worlds worse for leaving laundry in the baskets.
For a while I tried to be organized and neatly fold the diapers into their own little compartments but now I know better. I have two drawers that’s used only for diapers. The top drawer I throw the prefolds in and the bottom drawer holds everything else. I literally just throw it all in there without folding. Wow, can’t believe I just said that out loud!
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Michael Alden says
Water density like hard or soft is vital to take steps of cleaning cloth diapers with the best detergent. Water may contain compounds of calcium and magnesium and other minerals. Soft water has less amount of these minerals.
Thank you for that information!