So you’ve decided to ditch disposable diapers and chose cloth diapers for your baby. Cloth diapers are the perfect choice for parents who want to minimize their carbon footprint contribution to the environment. Aside from that, selecting this type of diaper is a surefire way of saving a lot of your hard-earned money. The only thing left is to know how to wash cloth diapers PROPERLY.
HOW TO WASH CLOTH DIAPERS?
Washing cloth diapers is not just some simple task where you just put all the stinky diapers in the washing machine and wait for a few minutes until it’s done. There is a proper way on how to do that and I will explain everything in this article.
Before anything else, know that cloth diapers are not just for people who live in big houses and has multiple laundry machines. This is a common misconception among people living in small apartments. The truth is you can still utilize cloth diapers even if you don’t have your own washer and dryer. Surely, there are a lot of laundromats in your neighborhood or even just downstairs in the complex where you live in.
So enough of the chit and let’s get started.
Step 1. Choose a Good Washer.
Most laundromat machines have enough power to wash poo-and-urine-infested cloth diapers. A standard top loader with agitator will do just fine. The only issue left to resolve is the capacity. When you have a lot of cloth diapers to wash, you may need two washers to finish faster.
Step 2. Start Loading.
So let’s get down to the real business. After you have found a good washer, you can start loading the cloth diapers into it. You can also throw your travel wet bag inside the washer along with the other diapers. Make sure that your travel wet bag has been turned inside out because it’s the internal part that needs to be washed and not the external part.
Step 3. Pre-rinse.
- Pre-rinse first.
Now this is a very important part in washing cloth diapers; you need to do some pre-rinsing first. You can treat this as a preliminary way of cleaning all your cloth diapers but this is not the real cleaning part yet. The sole purpose of pre-rinsing is getting rid of most dirt elements that are stuck in the diapers. After you have done pre-rinsing, another cleaning cycle must be initiated (the main wash). That is the part where all remaining dirt will be removed so the diapers will be at their cleanest state possible.
When you ignore pre-rinsing and deliberately proceed to main wash, expect that the diapers won’t be as clean as they are when you have done a pre-rinsing first. Just imagine all kinds of dirt (urine, poo, etc.) getting mixed and spun inside the machine with your detergent. Your diapers will just swim with all the dirt inside if you won’t do a pre-rinse first. That won’t certainly promote a good overall cleanup.
In this particular step, it is not necessary to use any detergent as you can just use water. Again, this is only for the sole purpose of eliminating most of the dirt. However, it would be better if you use a little bit of detergent.
I recommend the use of mainstream detergents for the pre-rinse; those that have a real brand and not just some cheap ones or DIY detergents. The advantage of using branded detergents (e.g. Purex) is they are designed not to leave buildups and residues.
You can mix the cloth diapers with a single capful of detergent. This is usually enough but you can add more if you want to.
- Configure the machine for pre-rinse.
Depending on your local price, you can start inserting coins or card into the machine slot. For the pre-rinse, you can set the machine to normal (wash type), warm water (for the water type), and heavy (for the soil level). Press start! You can set the pre-rinse for about 30 minutes.
I emphasize the “warm water” for the water type because it is helpful for the machine to spin away the dirt much easier compared to cold water. Using cold water could save energy when you have your own washer but in cases where you’re paying at the laundromat for your washing cycles, then I recommend warm water since you’re paying for it anyway. However, I don’t entirely condemn the use of cold water. If the machine doesn’t have warm or cold feature, or if you simply don’t want to use warm water, then you’re free to go for something you’re comfortable with.
Note: The PUL fabrics (the fabric where the urine and baby feces are stuck) in your cloth diapers are originally made for military and medical purposes. So you don’t have to worry putting them in high water temperature because they are designed to withstand that kind of condition.
Step 4. Do the Main Wash.
After about half an hour or after the pre-rinse is done, it is time for the main wash! Thanks to the pre-rinse, almost all of the pee and poo are now gone. But this doesn’t mean the diapers are now ready for use. They are not a 100% clean yet; this is where main wash comes into the picture.
Personally, I recommended Tide detergent for the main wash. You can also use Free Clear if you want to. The point is to use a detergent that is compatible with your baby’s skin or fit with the water that you use. Above all, it’s more important to use branded detergents and not some DIY ones. The latter may not have enough or may not have any surfactant at all; the “magic” ingredient for cleaning.
You can put a capful of Tide detergent (or the detergent of your choice) in the machine and turn it ON again. The configuration is the same with the pre-rinse; normal (for wash type), heavy (for soil level), and warm (for water type). Set the timer for at least 30 minutes.
Step 5. Dry.
You can dry immediately after the main wash. Contrary to most beliefs, there is no need to make multiple rinses. But if it makes you more comfortable and confident for your baby then you can rinse the cloth diapers again.
One way to find out if you need to rinse again is to touch one of the cloth diapers with your bare hands. If it still feels slippery, then you may need to do another rinsing. If not, you can now transfer the diapers to a drying machine.
You can now insert coins into the machine and configure to medium temperature. You can also set it to high temperature; the PUL fabric will do just fine.
- Do NOT use dryer sheets when drying cloth diapers because this is not your regular laundry where you can use dryer sheets. You must NOT use synthetic fabric softeners because they will buildup in the diaper fibers.
Another good way to dry is to hang the diapers under direct sunlight. That way, you can save energy and money though it’s only applicable during summer time or whenever the sun shines.
Some parents, probably including you, are hesitant in using cloth diapers because of the fear that constant reuse may cause dirt to infect their baby. But it’s not really a problem as long as you know how to wash cloth diapers PROPERLY. Follow the steps above and incorporate all the important tips mentioned whenever you wash your baby’s diapers and you’ll surely live a hassle-free cloth diaper lifestyle!