In our first post of this 3-part series, we wrote about one of our favorite diapers – the prefold! But no matter how loud we preach our love for cloth diapers from the rooftops, we know what’s really going through everyone’s minds, “But POOP?! In my WASHER!??” So before we talk more about diapers, let’s talk about the dirty stuff: laundry.
So let’s learn how (and when) to deal with the poop, shall we? Cloth diapers perform best when washed no less than 2 to 3 times per week. You can try pushing it longer, but it might end up causing more complicated laundry issues. To keep the it simple and straightforward, just suck it up and don’t go longer than 4 days without washing. It is obviously a little easier to run a quick load of wash if you have a machine in your house, but it is possible to wash in a laundromat. The advantage to using a laundromat is that you have access to many machines, so you can spread out several loads of laundry to get it all done at once.
Another Truth: Having a baby means you will ALWAYS have laundry to do. If you think washing diapers a couple times a week is bad, just try letting breastmilk-soaked jammies sit and spoil for more than 2 days. Yikes!
The diaper pail you use can be as simple as a garbage can lined with a wet bag. This bag gets washed along with your diapers. On laundry day, take your diapers and wet bags and toss them into the washing machine. A simple washing routine looks like this:
Run one cold wash cycle with detergent, which removes stains and cleans diapers.
Run a second hot (or extra hot) wash cycle, which sanitizes the diapers and rinses out the detergent.
There are many alternatives to this washing routine that pertain to each person’s particular machine and water quality, but the above is a good place to start. If you have your own machine at home with a rinse cycle option, some people like to do a cold rinse cycle sans detergent, a hot wash cycle with detergent, and a hot rinse cycle sans detergent to make sure the diapers are totally detergent-free at the end.
Not all detergents are created equal when it comes to cloth diapering. Diapers are particularly absorbent, and need to be really clean to continue absorbing well and smelling normal. Any detergent with additives or chemicals that are designed to coat the surface of the fabric get stuck in the diaper fibers and make them repellant and/or stinky. Leftover detergent in your diapers can also cause rashes for your babe. (Rate your current detergent here or, if you have your own machine, consider switching all your laundry over to a clean rinsing detergent like Charlie’s Soap. If you’re using shared laundry facilities, a super clean-rinsing detergent can end up just cleaning out the machine instead of your diapers, so best to stick with a less-specialized natural detergent, like BioKleen Premium Plus Powder.
When the wash is done, dry anything cotton in the dryer, and consider hanging to dry anything with waterproofing in it (Polyurthane Laminate), like your covers and wet bags. They’ll stay in better condition this way. Also, hanging laundry to dry in the sun is a GREAT way to further sanitize and remove stains.
If you are laundry inept and having a panic attack while reading this, don’t fret! One of our beloved local diaper services, Diaperkind (link: http://www.diaperkind.com), will drop off a huge sack of clean prefolds in the night and whisk away your dirty ones–like mystical diaper fairies! All you need to supply are the covers.
If this seems overwhelming, that’s normal. Changing your routine is always the hardest part, and there is a lot of change that comes with a baby. We guarantee that once this routine becomes, well, routine, it will seem natural and much easier than you anticipated. If you have a problem we are always happy to help you troubleshoot!