Despite the dozens of theories and methods going around the ‘net, I prefer to K.I.S.S. my diaper laundry = Keep It Simple, Silly!
This is the dirtiest laundry you’ll ever do, so the advice to use minimal soap (or soap substitutes) doesn’t make any sense in my household. To boot, a lot of “cloth diaper safe” detergents are being exposed as nothing more than laundry boosters, causing problems with ammonia build up, stink, etc. I used Nellie’s Laundry Soda with my eldest and it was a battle all the time with rashes and stink.
Since we switched to Tide? No problems and clean, fresh diapers every time!
WHAT ABOUT STAINS?
This isn’t common, as breastfed baby poop is water-soluble. If I do have any stains on inserts or covers, after washing them I just pin them to the clothesline (cough – volley ball net) outside. The sun naturally bleaches away ALL stains. It’s CRAZY effective, and only takes a few hours!! After I bring them in, I toss them in the dryer for 10 minutes or so to fluff them up (if you only line dry, your covers and inserts will be stiff).
WHAT ABOUT POOP?
As mentioned, most young baby poop is water-soluble – so you just toss your diapers into the machine. The first rinse will take care of that, and then the second cycle (the hot wash), does the cleaning. The final rinse gets rid of any detergent residue, to prevent irritation to baby. I put on rubber gloves when I put the diapers in the washer, then wash my hands (and gloves at the same time)!
Older babies who are eating solids often have more solid waste that can be “plopped” off into the toilet first (did you know you’re not supposed to dispose of poop in landfills? Even in disposable diapers?? Crazy!)
Some fathers in particular are very squeamish about washing dirty diapers in a machine. Thing is – disposables have a horrendous (and deserved) reputation for poop-blowouts, so either way, you’re going to be washing poopy fabric as a parent. It’s your choice whether you’d like to have that on cloth diapers…or on you AND your baby’s clothing and furniture! 🙂
WHAT ABOUT THE ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT OF WASHING DIAPERS?
This may be an issue if you live in a water-rationed place (like a desert), but for us, it’s an easy choice.
Do you wash your clothes? You wouldn’t choose to wear plastic underwear just because fabric clothing needs to be washed in water, would you? Seems silly when you put that common argument to clothing! 🙂 We do 3 loads of diaper laundry a week on average. In comparison, I do about 10 loads of clothing laundry a week.
The disposables used on my eldest daughter (before we switched to cloth) are still sitting in our local landfill, festering inside a plastic coffin, and will be there still in the next 450-550 years. Five hundred years. Five hundred years ago, Christopher Columbus discovered North America!
OKAY, LET’S HEAR THIS EASY ROUTINE…
I do laundry on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and sometimes on Sunday. To keep your diapers clean and bright, you really shouldn’t go longer than 3-4 days between washes.
HOW DO YOU STORE YOUR DIRTY DIAPERS?
I toss dirty diapers and cloth wipes into 4 Kanga Care wet bags that I have snapped to the end of our changing table. When I fill up a bag (they fit approx 22 diapers), I take it down to the laundry. The bag and all of its contents can be thrown into the washing machine (and dryer, too!) The bags are kept open, as air circulation actually PREVENTS odor! We don’t have a stinky bag or room as a result. Yay!
I wash with regular liquid Tide (HE version for my machine). I use up to line 2 or 3 on the cap, for about 15 diapers in a load.
WHAT ARE YOUR SETTINGS?
Basically I do a rinse-hot wash -rinse sandwich!
On my machine (Maytag Bravo XL HE toploader), that means I press:
1) Rinse cycle (21 minutes)
2) Heavy Duty cycle on WARM/HOT + extra rinse (1 hr, 20 min) —> this is where I add my Tide detergent (up to line 2 or 3 on the cap)
3) Rapid Wash cycle (33 min)
HOW DO YOU DRY YOUR DIAPERS?
You can either hang them, or use the dryer. If you dry on hot, you risk damaging the elastics in your diapers, but if you hang dry all the time, you risk stretching them out with gravity. I do a happy compromise and dry in the dryer on Bulky + Low heat. DONE!
ps. Never use fabric softener, it can coat the fabric and stop your diapers from absorbing properly.
SO THAT’S IT? THAT DOESN’T SEEM SO SCARY!
It’s not scary at all – even for people with low-ick-thresholds!
I put dirty diapers in zippered bags, and then three times a week, I do a rinse-hot wash-rinse and dry the diapers in the dryer.
Any stains get bleached away by the sun! Easy! 🙂