Many parents know the advantages of using cloth diapers rather than disposables. Cloth diapers can save money, they’re better for baby’s skin, and they are kinder on the environment. However, even with all this, many parents continue to shell out big bucks for disposable diapers, figuring they just can’t handle the inconvenience of washing cloth diapers.
For some, the biggest deterrent to cloth diapering is the laundering. You would think cloth diapering mamas individually hand-washed every single poopy diaper. The truth is, cleaning those cloth tushie covers is almost as easy as handling any other kind of laundry. You throw a load in the washing machine, turn it on, and let it go. The machine does the work. Then you transfer that load to the drier or clothesline and let it finish the job. Finally, you put the diapers away and reuse them.
Here are a few things to keep in mind to make cloth diaper washing as easy as possible and to extend the life of your diapers.
1) First, collect the soiled and wet diapers in an enclosed container. A kitchen trash receptacle with a lid works well. You can line the receptacle with either a plastic trash can liner, or you can purchase a reusable cloth laundry bag which is friendlier to the environment. The reusable bag can be washed along with the diapers and line dried.
2) Once the bag is full, dump the contents into the washing machine and set it to perform a cold rinse cycle. You can add soap if you want, but the main purpose of the cold wash is to remove soiled matter and help prevent staining. I have found plain water works really well. When the cold wash cycle finishes, set the washing machine to wash with hot water. Then add a normal amount of your favorite detergent, plus 1/4 to 1/2 cup of borax, and let the cycle run. At the end of the hot wash cycle, you can re-rinse if you like. Otherwise, take the diapers out and toss them into the drier or line dry. Depending on what kind of diapers you are using, set the drier to run either a regular or cool drying cycle, and turn it on. You can also line dry the diapers, but that really would be more work. Reuse the diapers again and again.
More Cloth Diaper Washing Tips:
- For babies who are still exclusively breastfed, don’t do anything extra with poopy diapers. The washing machine will take care of it. When the baby is eating solid foods the poop will be more solid and will need to be scraped off. Gently shake the diaper over the toilet to remove poop. You should try to get as much off the diaper as you can, but the washing machine can still handle a surprising amount of residue, so you don’t have to overdo it. Just get rid of the really solid stuff.
- Do not use bleach or fabric softeners. Bleach will break down the fibers in the diapers, shortening their useful life. Fabric softeners tend to add residue to the diapers which can irritate baby’s bottom as well as cause the diapers to repel, rather than absorb water. Which is the opposite of the intended purpose! Rely on the hot water and soap to sanitize the diapers. If they smell clean, they are clean. A lot of moms even find that cold water washes work just fine too and save money as well as extend the life of the diapers.
Cloth diapers may seem more complicated at first, but it’s really more work for your washing machine, and maybe a bit more patience for you. Once you’ve washed a few loads, it becomes second nature and you too will be scratching your head when your friends balk at using cloth diapers on account of the laundering.