When it comes to the washing of your cloth diapers the task can seem massive and daunting, but the good news is that it doesn’t have to be!
When I started cloth diapering the advice was to us 1/2 quantity of detergent, then when the “detergent” builds up and nappies start leaking you’ll need to “strip” your diapers. Oh, no wonder i was set up for disaster. When I think about it now I really didn’t have much idea about how to properly care for my cloth diapers.
Busting Washing Myths for Reusables
The truth is when you only use 1/2 of the recommended dose of detergent the results are dirty diapers that stink of ammonia. Ammonia is that nasty old urine smell. It also increases the risk of diaper rashes which can get nasty. All this really makes using cloth diapers just plain difficult! The solution: Wash with enough detergent for the hardness of your water and according to how soiled your wash load is. If it’s diapers then you will possibly need more detergent than normal. It’s common sense and at the end of the day what you want is clean diapers.
Stripping only needs to be done when your diapers have developed a build up of oils. This build up could be caused by fabric softeners and diaper balms. Never use fabric softeners on your diapers for this reason. If you have to use a diaper balm then using a diaper liner is the solution. The liner can be either disposable or reusable. If you care for your diapers properly you should never need to strip them.
If you do need to strip your diapers, simply wash them with blue Dawn dish soap by hand – don’t use dish soap in your washing machine! Then wash as normal – see the simple procedure below for your regular washing routine.
How to Wash Cloth Diapers
- Keep it Simple: Wash every second day. Pre-rinse in warm water, wash in warm water no hotter than 86°F, then add an extra rinse cycle.
- Amount of Detergent: Use the recommended amount of detergent, or more if needed to get your diapers clean. If you’re using an eco detergent, use salt based as the ones with coconut or plant oils aren’t the best for diapers due to the build up of the oils.
- Wash for Long Enough: Your diapers need to be exposed to the full amount of detergent for at least 45 minutes to be completely clean. A 20 minute wash cycle just is not enough!
- Keep away from Additives: Never use vinegar, baking soda, boosters, essential oils or fabric softeners. Constant exposure to these can harm your diapers. They can cause rashes and ruin the elastic and laminates.
Please don’t make it more complicated than it needs to be! Looking after your diapers properly will extend their life considerably.
Can Washable Diapers go in the Dryer?
If at all possible, line or rack drying in the sun is the premium choice. The sunshine actually sanitizes them, it’s loads cheaper, and as a bonus you get some sunshine in your day too. Air drying vs machine drying will also help extend the lifespan of your cloth diapers. However this is only possible if you have sunshiny weather which unfortunately is not the case for many moms.
Yes, your cloth diapers can go in the dryer. Machine dry on low or medium heat only as high heat can damage your laminate covers. If you’re using the dryer make sure your diapers are cool before stretching, folding and stuffing to ensure the laminate is not damaged. Using wool dryer balls is beneficial as you generally get 25% faster drying time saving on costs, wear and tear, and time.
Wash Diapers in Hard Water
If you have a build up of Mineral deposits on your washing due to extremely hard water, then a laundry treatment such as RLR is very useful. It isn’t a soap or detergent, but an additive to use with your detergent. It’s only needed if your diapers are getting dingy from your hard water.
For sanitizing your diapers after a yeast infection or for secondhand diapers, it is generally considered safe to add 1/4 cup of bleach to your wash cycle. Please refer to manufacturer’s directions regarding the use of bleach.
Always remember, keep it simple. Washing your cloth diapers doesn’t need to be complicated. If you do come upon obstacles just come back and research and keep on loving the cloth and most importantly loving the little ones!