Changing Diapers: the Hip Mom's Guide to Modern Cloth Diapering

Monday, April 11, 2011

Washing Cloth Diapers

I was very excited and anxious to start using cloth diapers on my 5-month old daughter. But choosing what method I would use to wash them was one of the most overwhelming and confusing parts of getting started. I have a front loading, high efficiency washer which I quickly learned made it much more difficult to get my daughter’s cloth diapers clean. With old school washers you can soak the diapers for hours and then wash them, but no such luck with high efficiency washers! Luckily there are a ton of great resources and friends out there to help get me on track.

First I tried a homemade laundry detergent recipe that my cloth-diapering cousin uses for her son’s dipes. I bought all of the ingredients and mixed it all together. But before I started a load I started doing some research on the internet. I checked out some blogs and found some really helpful sites on facebook. I determined after some reading that the homemade recipe wasn’t for me. It called for Castile soap and from what I read, regular soap is a no-no for cloth diapers.

Then I tried Green Mountain detergent, which was recommended to me by a lady who I met through CraigsList. It was way too sudsy for my HE washer. To get all of the detergent out I had to run several rinse cycles. (as you have probably figured out by now, I have enough detergent to use on our regular cloths to last me quite a while!) On to the next trial!

It wasn’t long after the Green Mountain fiasco that I was introduced to Rockin’ Green laundry detergent. I was at a cloth diaper party (where a retailer brought diapers that were several different brands so we could pick which one(s) we liked the best) and the woman had Rockin’ Green detergent with her. I had been researching that brand a little online but didn’t want to pay the shipping costs, so I was excited to be able to purchase it there and take it home for a test run. At that time I didn’t realize I had hard water so I bought the Classic Rock kind (when the bag I have runs out I will buy the Hard Rock kind next time, for hard water). Now that I had a detergent that was cloth diaper safe and worked well with a high efficiency washer, it was time to tackle the task of decided what method to use.

I tried the basic ~cold rinse~hot water wash~cold rinse~ method that I had seen talked about over and over, but my daughter’s diapers did not come out smelling clean. (keep in mind, I use a diaper sprayer and dry pail) After much trial and error, I have landed on the following wash cycle: cold short cycle wash with a little detergent~ full hot cycle wash with recommended amount of detergent (2 tbsp)~ extra rinse and spin. At the beginning of the hot water cycle I had a gallon of hot water (from the tap) to add weight and water (to trick the washing machine into thinking there are more items in there) so it will add extra water and help get the diapers more clean. I then add another gallon of hot water during the wash cycle through the detergent drawer.

The truth is, wash routines will vary from home to home because our children, diapers, water, detergent, and washing machines are all different. If at first you don’t succeed (and chances are, you won’t succeed the first time), try and try again. It took me several weeks, several detergents, and several wash routines to find the one that worked best for my household. But now that I found it, washing diapers is a breeze (and they come out smelling clean!). Try not to get frustrated. Reach out to friends, family and bloggers to get tips to try until you land on the system that works best for you. It’s all worth it in the end! (I also highly recommend line drying your diapers… it saves a ton on energy costs and helps whiten them in the process).

My next adventure? Making my own diapers for my daughter! Wish me luck!

Becky is a wife and work at home mother. She has been married for 2 ½ years. They have one beautiful daughter who is 7 months old. She is truly blessed!  She also owns an Etsy shop, Blessed Creations.

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