Monday, September 12, 2011

Washa, Washa, Washa!

Here it is! How to wash and prep your cloth diapers. If you use cloth diapers, you eventually have to wash them which can be a hassle if you’re not sure how to do it or find yourself with a routine that just isn’t working. When you’re first starting out you may be asking yourself, “Is there anything I need to do before I put cloth diapers on my little one?” The answer is yes, you have to prep them. If you’re using used diapers, they can just be washed by using whatever routine works for you.

Prepping NEW Diapers –
Before you put your diapers in the washer, hopefully you know what they are made of and how to successfully prep/wash them. If not, that’s okay; I’m here to help you figure it all out! Different diapers may require different prepping/washing methods in order to get the best out of them.
Normally Pockets, AIO, and AI2′s come with instructions on how to prep them for use and some even claim that they can be used out of the package.  But in my opinion, before using your new diapers; all cloth diapers, covers and wipes should be washed on Hot with a Cold rinse and dried at least once before initial use.  Wash with 1/4 – 1/2 the amount of suggested detergent.  Dry your PUL lined diapers in the dryer on High heat the first time to help seal the PUL.  Bummis Diaper Covers can be tumbled dry on low heat or hung to dry.  Inserts and wipes can be dried in the dryer on normal heat.
Unbleached natural prefolds, any hemp diapers and Organic Cotton Velour diapers for the first time you will need to prepare them for use. Meaning, you need to remove any natural wax from the fabric and make them absorbent. Be sure to wash these diapers separately initially until the natural wax is removed.  Prefolds arrive very flat,  they will fluff up beautifully after washing and drying a few times.  Wash on HOT with some detergent (1/4 -1/2 the normal recommended amount).  Then, tumble dry on normal to high heat.  Repeat this process 3 times.  Test for absorbency by pouring some water onto the diaper.  If the water absorbs readily into the diaper – your diapers are ready to use.  If the water stays on top of the diaper, like it’s repelling then you need to do some more washes until it no longer repels.  Hemp diapers may need up to 8 washings before they reach maximum absorbency but check after 3 washings as they may be ready to use at this point, why waste water if you don’t need to? Hemp can be used after one wash but will not have reached it’s maximum absorbency.
Congratulations, you just prepped your diapers!

Caring for your diapers
Do not wash more than two dozen diapers at a time! Do not leave poop in the diapers for more than 24/hrs, this will break down the cotton fibers and also leave some mean staining.
Run a cold rinse or soak with 1/4 the amount of detergent, this will remove any left over poop/pee and send it right down the drain! Wash on hot cycle, cold rinse again and then hang them out to dry. If that’s not an option, tumble dry!
If the manufacturer gives you different instructions, please modify your washing routine to their instructions.
Easy enough right?

Remember when I said you may have to “strip” your diapers due to a number of reasons. Smelly diapers, leaky diapers, fleece is “repelling” moisture most of this is caused by build up, so stripping everyone in awhile even if you don’t have these problems will help you out in the long run. So here’s how to do just that.If you wash your natural diapers with synthetics or do not get all of the detergent out each time you wash, is another reason why your fleece may be repelling and your diapers are leaking.
There are a couple of ways to strip your diapers.
1.) Your diapers need to be clean, they don’t have to be dry but clean!! Wash them on HOT 2-3 times without detergent. Rinse until the water runs clear, if you’re doing this because of too much detergent. Rinse until there are NO suds.
2.) Do the same as above except instead of not using detergent use BLUE (original) Dawn dish liquid soap with HOT water. You can do this in the washer but remember that Dawn is NOT low sudsing, HE approved detergent so be sure to check with your machine manufacturers before doing this. Some parents even do this in a pot or bowl. Don’t let your diapers soak for too long like this, especially diapers with PUL. If you do, the PUL will NOT be as effective!!

A few tips
Try to avoid detergents with “brighteners” or “enzymes” as these will break down your diapers and may cause a rash. Also try to avoid laundry “soaps” as they may leave a residue on your diapers. (Dreft and Ivory Snow are detergents and OK for diapers).
Fasten diapers and covers inside out so the insides get clean and to protect any applique or embroidery.
Take a “sniff test” after washing. If your diapers smelllike detergent do another hot rinse, or try stripping to get all the detergent out.
If your diapers are “crunchy” after drying outside toss them in the dryer on the fluff cycle for 10-15 minutes to soften them up.
Should you dunk in the toilet?
You don’t HAVE to dunk in the toilet, a simple shake above the toilet or maybe a little toilet paper to budge the tough spots will do the job. Once that is taken care of just through them in the diaper pail.  If your baby is still only drinking milk (especially breastmilk) you need not worry about removing the poo as it will wash right out in the washing machine. If you want to dunk your cloth diapers or do the toilet paper method, a diaper sprayer that attaches to your toilet or bathroom sink is a great idea but not a necessity.
Do you have to use a laundromat?
Many parents may choose not to cloth diaper because of this, but it’s still possible! The good news – laundromat washing is that many times huge front-loading machines are available that can wash up to 40-50 diapers at a time. So if you can wash that many diapers, you won’t have to have as many trips to the laundromat as you though.  One of the major issues is the detergent build-up that can occur due to others using the same machines. To avoid this is to wipe out the insides of both the washer and the dryer that you will use and the detergent dispenser if possible. If you’re like me and don’t really want to do that, run a load of regular laundry through FIRST with your diaper safe detergent or just wash your diapers last.

If you have any questions, concerns, or just want to talk email me at

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