Thursday, September 3, 2009

Doing diaper laundry can be simple!

When I first started using cloth diapers, I had this fear that I would ruin them. That somehow I would add too much soap, or the water would be the wrong temperature, or I would use the wrong soap, or something bad would happen. I would mess up all my new diapers that I just bought! I don't know why, but I seriously feared washing my diapers.

A silly thought, sure, but that's actually a common concern of many new cloth diaper users! You just spent $15 + on a diaper. The last thing you want to do is ruin them!

I've learned that washing your diapers is actually really simple and I'm pretty sure it's virtually impossible to ruin them. My wash routine is very basic. There are many ways to wash your diapers, many different detergents to use, many different ways to dry them, and really- they all work at cleaning your diapers- it's just about doing what works for you!

My routine is very simple.

We keep a regular trash can with a lid ($10 plastic bought at Fred Meyer) in the hall bathroom which is across from my son's room. Inside the trash can we have a normal trash bag which contains all the dirty diapers. Because this is more wasteful, I would prefer to use a wet bag/pail liner. I will hopefully be getting one eventually, but they are certainly not necessary. It works just fine to use a trash bag and throw it away after each wash.
After the trash can is full, I wash! I wash about every 3 days. Currently I'm using Purex Free & Clear detergent. I'm not in love with this detergent, yet I have no reason to complain about it either. I've found something that works to get my diapers clean, so I'll stick with it! I always do two loads and one dry. The first load is a cold wash, the second is hot. Through trial and error I learned that you should always do a cold wash first. This helps prevent any stains from occurring. With both washes I use a tiny bit of detergent. It takes very little detergent to get your diapers clean!

Drying my diapers can be done two ways; the lazy way or the smart way. The lazy way is to throw all my diapers (covers, inserts, rags, etc) into the dryer on medium setting. It usually takes less than 20 minutes to get everything dry. I call this the lazy way because I don't believe this is the best way as I've noticed it really wears and tears on my diapers. Just like our clothes, the more times things are dried, the more wear is caused to them.
The smart way, and the way I believe that really helps contribute to long lasting diapers, is to either hang them to dry or lay them on your kitchen table. Really, anything better than the dryer is better. A clothes line is optimal and nice, however your couch, bed, table, heck even a clean floor! would work as a place to lay your diapers to dry. Avoiding the dryer is going to make the elastic and velcro last longer and keep them looking newer for longer.

After my diapers are dry I stuff them and prepare them for wearing! This takes less than 10 minutes and is almost always done while watching TV. :)

And that my friends, is it! Sounds simple doesn't it? That's because it is! Using cloth diapers doesn't have to be complicated or include 12 different steps. It can be and it is easy! Does it take an extra 20 minutes of my time every few days? Yes. Does it cost more money up front? Yes. Are the benefits of using cloth and the cuteness factor totally worth it? YES!

Reader Contribution
by Samantha at Mama Notes


Jessica said...

Thanks for your post. I think I need to hang mine to dry more often...and I am glad to read about the soap you use. Another friend told me she uses Surf free and clear and only striped her diapers once and has used the same diapers for five years! Then, all my other friends tell me to use this other soap, which is fine, but not ava. at Target, so I'd have to order it...
Anyways, thanks.

hosiewosie said...

I was really afraid of washing diapers at first too, especially pockets! I use mostly prefolds though, and wasn't as scared about those. I can't believe your dryer is done in 20 minutes! Mine takes a lot longer, so I'm getting a clothesline!!!

Sarah said...

When I started my cloth diapering "experiment", I had one diaper that I washed very carefully each day on the delicate cycle. After ordering more diapers in a trial package, I was paranoid that I was going to do something wrong. I switched laundry detergents and hung them out to dry when the weather permitted. I ended up getting a lot of stink and have since switched back to my original detergent and have also eliminated an extra "prewash" I thought I needed with more diapers. Now, it's just an extra rinse at the end with my original detergent and no more stink!

harmonywear1818 said...

wow, have I complicated things. I think I will try to simplify my routine and see if that work better.

sleepissweet said...

I've found that the clip-style hangers that sometimes come with baby clothes are great for hanging the covers up to air dry in the laundry room, or on the shower bar. (Since we never actually use the hangers for baby pants--those just go in the drawer!) My covers have been wearing out faster than I would like with machine drying, so I've switched to air drying them inside most of the time. I can clip one cover to each side of the hanger.

Julie said...

@sleepissweet, you're absolutely right. drying in the dryer does put a lot of unnecessary wear and tear on your pockets and covers. Often they should almost be dry by the time they come off the spin cycle in the wash. If you have enough in your stash it definitely pays off to line dry or hang your pockets/covers to dry inside the house.

Ryan, Corrie, Max, and Jack said...

I'm a dork, but I love doing laundry, and hate that I only have a drying rack to use and not lines outside! Don't get me wrong, i love the dryer and am thankful for it, but I enjoy hanging clothes/diapers up. It feels productive and somehow relaxes me. Like I said, I'm a dork!
thank you for posting your routine! I love reading what other people do, esp. if it simpler than what I do!


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