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Monday, September 19, 2011

How cloth diapering works part 2 - Washing

I realize that I was absent on Friday - I was getting ready for my cloth diaper party. We had a lot of fun, and I learned a lot! Many thanks to Erin for making the trip out here to teach us!

Also notable, yet unrelated - Izzy started walking this weekend! Yes, we are very proud, but I'm also sad to see my baby growing up!

Now, on to business. Washing your cloth diapers -

Waiting for wash day:
I keep 2 diaper pails, one by the changing table for wet diapers, and a small bucket by the toilet for "dirty" diapers. The wet ones just go straight into the big pail and wait for wash day. The dirty ones get rinsed out and put into the smaller pail to wait. (Those diaper liners I talked about last week really come in handy here.)

I actually still do a wet pail for my dirty diapers, but almost no-one does that anymore. A wet pail is just a bucket full of water and a little bleach or detergent to soak the diapers in. I can't seem to convince myself that I don't need to soak the dirty diapers...

Also, you can buy a sprayer that hooks up to your toilet to spray the poop off of the diapers. These seem great, but we haven't gotten one yet. They look like the sprayers that are on a lot of kitchen sinks.

Wash day:
It's best to wash diapers every 2 to 3 days, to prevent them from smelling. This may seem like a lot of washing, but it's really easy and there's not really much folding to it. Folding is my least favorite part of doing laundry anyway!

Tip: it's actually better to keep your diaper pail open, if possible. This allows air to flow through them and actually prevents stink. I can always tell when I accidentally left the lid down on my diaper pail because the diapers smell just like ammonia by wash day. It's not big deal either way, though. They still wash clean on wash day!

So, here's my routine:

1. Dump the water out of the wet pail and empty both the wet pail and the "dry" pail into the washing machine. Run a cold water wash cycle with "biokleen bac-out" as a prewash.

2. Run a hot or warm water wash with detergent

3. Do a final rinse with 1/2 cup of vinegar, just to make sure I got all the soap out.

That's it! Some people do skip one of those rinse cycles, some people may add another. When I lived in  New Orleans, I didn't do a prerinse, I just did a rinse after the initial wash to make sure they were clean. Now that we've moved, I find I need that extra rinse to get them really clean. It just depends on your water.

Also, it does matter what kind of detergent you use. Many detergents contain things that will build up in the cloth and make the diapers hold on to stink. Yuck! (This kind of makes me wonder what kind of buildup is in all of my clothes from using mainstream detergent!)  Fortunately, most diapers can be easily stripped if this happens.

Stripping you diapers can consist of simply rinsing them over and over in your washing machine several times or soaking them overnight in a little bleach water. There are many other options out there for stripping your diapers, too. Some women even boil their cloth diapers to strip them, I've read. At some point, most cloth diapers do need stripping.

Here's a great chart to help you decide what detergent will be best for you and your baby:

In New Orleans, I used All Free & Clear and it worked great. Since we've moved, I had to switch and now I use Country save. Both are cheap and will work great for all your laundry! When I run out next time, I'm going to try making the homemade laundry detergent some readers have asked me to test out for them!

I've been fortunate to have someone around to ask for help troubleshooting whenever I've had questions. There are (as I was reminded Friday night) a lot of options out there when you are cloth diapering, and it's easy to get overwhelmed! If you have any questions or need any help getting started, please comment, email or facebook me! I'd be glad to help you any way I can!

Also, I've started a Facebook page for my followers, so head on over and click "like" if you want to be a part of our conversations over there!

That concludes our cloth diapering series! I've got some great recipes to share the rest of this week!

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