I have read so many articles about washing diapers. Some of the instructions were really long and I wondered if I really needed to do every step. I am thirteen months into my cloth diapering journey, and my biggest piece of advice is to do what works for you.
Our washing machine and dryer are in our detached garage. It really isn’t a huge deal (please remind me that I said that if it snows again this winter!).
I do prep my diapers before I use them initially. That means that before I used any of my cloth diapers, I washed (and dried the prefolds and inserts) three times before I used them. This makes the diapers more absorbent. As I get new diapers, I just throw them in with my dirty diapers. I still wash them three times before I use them.
I have had two different washing machines so far in my cloth diapering. We have lived in our house for five years and a few appliances have needed replacing recently, so I don’t think the death of the washing machine had anything to do with my washing cloth diapers.
When Clarissa was younger and breastfeeding exclusively, I simply put the diapers (and wipes) into my diaper pail after she used them. Once she started eating solids, her poop changed consistency. It became thicker and messier. So I started “rinsing” them. After I took the soiled diaper off of Clarissa, I would bring it and the used wipes to the toilet and swish it around until most of the poop was off the diaper. Then, I would put the diaper and wipes into the diaper pail.
Note: You really don’t need to soak the diapers. Getting most of the solid part off is key. The first couple of times I did it, I was pretty grossed out. I had to remind myself that I was saving my family money and preventing Clarissa from being exposed to so many chemicals. After a week or two, it wasn’t a big deal. But my husband still thinks it’s gross!
My first washing machine was nice, other than the fact that it only lasted four and half years. I guess a better word for it would be fancy. It was energy efficient, but that doesn’t matter when you’re washing diapers. First, I used a scoop of bumGenius Diaper Detergent. Then, I set my water level to high and my temperature to hot. I had a soak feature on my washing machine so the diapers would soak in the hot water for two hours.
My new washing machine is more basic, but works just as well. First, I use a scoop of the bumGenius Diaper Detergent. Then, I set my size to extra large, my temperature to hot, and my mode to heavy. This washing machine has an option for a double rinse, so I select that.
After washing, I take out my pail liner and covers and hang them on our drying rack. Then, I put the inserts, prefolds, breast pads, and wipes in the dryer on high for 80 minutes. I found that the automatic cottons setting left them feeling damp.
I have found that a consistent schedule works for me. I like to wash my diapers on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at dinner time whether I am running out of diapers or not. This way, I have time to wash and dry diapers before I go to bed. The covers are dry and ready to stuff by morning.
You can try a few things. Figure out what works best for you and your family. You will get into a groove eventually.
Some people strip their diapers on a regular basis. I have only done it once so far, at about nine months of use. The liners that I use with the prefolds were starting to feel rough. So I decided to try stripping all of my diapers and they were all like new afterwards. This was a long process, so make sure you have several hours to devote to this.
First, I divided my diapers into two loads. I did my prefolds, liners, and covers one day and my pocket diaper covers and inserts the next. I didn’t worry about my wipes. With each load, I first did a load of wash as usual. Then, I did an extra large load with hot water and a few squirts of the blue Dawn dish soap. This helped to eliminate any build up on my diapers. Next, I did a cold rinse. Then, I did an extra large load with hot water and a tablespoon of arm and hammer baking soda. This eliminates any lasting odors on your diapers. I did one last cold rinse before drying the diapers.
It was a long process, but worth it because my diapers were like new and almost four months later are still in great shape. I think I may try it next time in fewer steps and see how it goes.