Washing and Caring for your Cloth Diapers
THE GOLDEN RULE
Before we go into how to care for and wash your diapers we have to give you the #1 rule:
Always first refer to the washing and care instructions from the manufacturer for each of your diapers. Many manufacturers have specific instructions on how to best care for your diapers. It is important to know and understand these instructions, especially for any future warranty issues you may have. It is best that you are familiar with the wash and care instructions for all the cloth diapers you have in order to best proceed with your wash routine choices. We know that much of this information might be conflicting, but this will be potentially important information for you to have knowledge of.
PREPPING YOUR DIAPERS
When you receive new cloth diapers, you will need to prewash the diapers before you use them. Diapers covers, All-in-Ones & All-in-Twos with fleece and inserts made out of microfiber only need to be washed once prior to use. Toss them in your washer, run a regular wash cycle and dry them (or hang dry your covers, if you prefer) and they are ready. For cotton, hemp, bamboo and other natural fiber diapers or inserts, you need to wash them 4-6 times before use to remove the oils from the natural fibers, soften the fabric and have them reach their full absorbency. You can do this by washing them with other regular clothes. Or by boiling them in hot water for 5-10 minutes a few times. If you choose to boil be sure that this is only for inserts. Any diaper with PUL waterproof material, elastics and snaps of hook & loop should NOT be boiled. We also suggest you use fresh, clean water for each time. Lastly, be sure to wash them separately from your microfiber diapers so that the natural oils don’t build up on your microfiber.
If you have purchased a wool cover, you will need to treat it with Lanolin prior to first use. Learn more about this here:http://www.diaperpin.com/clothdiapers/article_howtolanolizewool.asp
CLEANING YOUR DIAPERS
The K.I.S.S. Method
We subscribe to the K.I.S.S. Method for cleaning your cloth diapers - Keep It Simple Silly. Washing your cloth diapers should be as easy and straight forward as possible. In order to get to a routine that is simple and won't require lots of intricate steps or processes there are a couple important factors to consider:
1. Type of Washing Machine: Do you have a regular, top loading machine? Or do you have a high-efficiency (HE) front loading machine? Or do you have an HE top loading machine? What are the wash cycle settings and other settings available on your machine? ALL of these questions are important because based on the answers you might need to make specific choices.
2. Water Type: Do you have soft, regular or hard water? This can be important because they type of water you have can be the difference between how much detergent to use or whether you should use a specially formulated detergent. All of which can be the difference between having constant stink problems or not.
3. Detergent: The brand and how much detergent you use is very important. There are many detergents out there and people who cloth diaper use them all. However, that does not necessarily mean that it works for one person it will work for you.
Find Your Own Routine
While it's great to get advice from other cloth diaper-ers, it is important to realize that everyone's situation is unique. When you do illicit advice from others make sure that you have the same type of washing machine and water type. Also, if you just ask about which detergent people use ask them what their wash routine is. We've heard of people suggesting a detergent, but then talk about how they do 4-5 rinses each time!!
Water, Water, Water
Water is going to be your best friend for washing your diapers. The ultimate goal of washing your diapers is to get as much water into your wash and rinse cycles as possible. There is a reason why water is called "the universal solvent." Water will help you solve most problems you might have and is vital in every step of the process.
For tips on how to work with high-efficiancy washing machines read our blog post about this: "How to Trick Your HE Washer"
Washing is not as overwhelming as it sounds! To avoid stink and minimize stains, you will want to wash your diapers every 2-3 days (unless you are using wool, which does not need frequent washing).
Washing routines will vary greatly depending on the washing machine you are using. However, a good general regime to follow is:
1. A warm rinse cycle - no detergent: This will rinse out the pee and poop that is on your diapers. (we generally recommend using the delicate cycle for this since it is a full wash cycle)
2. A warm or hot wash cycle - with detergent: This is to get your diapers clean.
3. A warm rinse cycle - no detergent: This will rinse our an residual detergent that might still be in your diapers, which can trap icky stuff in your diapers and cause stink issues. (again you can use delicate)
You can then choose to hang dry or machine dry your diapers normally. If you choose to machine dry your diapers we suggest that you use low heat when you are drying any diaper with PUL waterproofing, elastics, snaps or hook & loop as high heat can cause lead to damage. If you are only drying inserts then you can use any heat setting that you would like.
You should never use fabric softeners at any point during the wash cycle.
You should never use detergents with fabric softeners, whiteners/brighteners, enzymes, and/or fragrance. If you used these types of detergent, you will need to “strip” your diapers and switch to a different detergent. Any detergent can work to get your diapers clean. You just have to find the one that works best for you.