One of the most important aspects of cloth diapering is establishing a good washing routine. Proper washing is essential for keeping your cloth diapers clean, hygienic, and odor-free. Here are some tips on how to achieve a good washing routine for your cloth diapers. Remember that some things like the type of washing machine, or water harness can change this routine. Always check with machine manual to ensure you are using proper settings.
Before washing: Always discard of solid waste. Never leave it on the diaper as it will not break down in the wash. This can be done using a diaper sprayer or by simply holding the diaper under running water. This step helps to prevent stains and odors from setting in.
Before you wash your cloth diapers, it's important to pre-rinse them to remove any left over solid waste and excess urine.
- Wash in Hot Water
Washing your cloth diapers in hot water is important to ensure that all bacteria and germs are eliminated. Make sure to use a cloth diaper-friendly detergent that doesn't contain fabric softeners or harsh fragrances, which can cause buildup and affect absorbency. Run the washing machine for a full cycle to ensure a thorough clean. You can bulk your load with other clothes, but make sure not to over fill your machine, and don't add items that could get tangled around the diapers and stop them from getting properly agitated and washed.
- Extra Rinse (Optional)
After the wash cycle is complete, you can do an extra rinse to ensure that all detergent has been removed from the diapers. Any leftover detergent can cause buildup, leading to odors and reduced absorbency. An extra rinse cycle also helps to ensure that all bacteria and germs are completely eliminated. Do NOT do an extra rinse if you have hard water as you are only reintroducing the minerals back into the fabrics. If you have a high efficient (HE) machine, an extra rinse shouldn't be needed.
- Hang, Lay Flat or Dry in Dryer on Low setting
If possible, it's nice to line dry your cloth diapers in the sun. Sunlight has natural disinfecting properties and can help remove stains and odors from the diapers. If line drying is not possible, you can also use a dryer on low heat, but avoid using dryer sheets, as they can cause buildup on the diapers. When letting diapers out to dry, ensure there is no tension on the elastics.
- Use a Water Softener
If you live in an area with hard water, using a water softener can help improve the effectiveness of your washing routine. Hard water can cause mineral buildup on the diapers, reducing their absorbency and causing odors. Adding a water softener can help to prevent this.
- Strip Your Diapers (When needed)
Over time, your cloth diapers may develop buildup from detergent, hard water, or other factors. When this happens, it's important to strip your diapers to remove the buildup and restore their absorbency. There are several methods for stripping cloth diapers, including using a special detergent or doing a vinegar soak. Follow the instructions for your chosen method carefully to ensure a successful strip.
By following these tips, you can achieve a good washing routine for your cloth diapers and keep them clean, hygienic, and odor-free. With proper care, your cloth diapers can last for years, making them a cost-effective and eco-friendly option for diapering your baby.