There are a few things to know before washing your cloth diapers. Choosing the right detergent not only will help properly clean the cloth diapers but also keep them effective and absorbent. The main thing you need to know about detergents is they are not all made alike. Some brands have extra additives and chemicals which may irritate baby’s sensitive skin or cause the cloth diapers to repel or become non-absorbent. So what kind of detergents do I stay away from? Detergents that have lots of additives and state on their packaging that it “brightens & whitens”, “optical or UV brighteners”, “keeps clothes fresh longer” are not recommended. Natural soaps that have oils are also not recommended as they can cause diapers to repel. A few brands to stay away from are Dr. Bonners Soap, 7th Generation, Bio-Kleen, Ivory Snow, Dreft, All, Purex “Free & Clear”, Gain, Arm & Hammer, Tide, Oxi-Clean. (*This is not a complete list.) So what kind of detergents is recommended? Believe it or not store brands, which are the least expensive, and usually in powder form generally have the least amount of additives and are the best to clean cloth diapers with. Powder detergents are also preferred since extra additives are used to keep liquid detergents in a liquid state. A few brands that are recommended are Charlie’s Soap, Sam’s Choice (Walmart), Sun Powder, Sunlight, Cheer, Clout (Cosco). (*This is not a complete list.) It is also recommended to use only ¼ of the amount of recommended detergent when washing cloth diapers.
Never, ever use any kind of fabric softener. They leave a waxy residue on the cloth diapers which cause them to repel & decrease in absorbency.
Hard water can also affect how absorbent cloth diapers are. It’s recommended to use Calgon Water Softener or some other type of water softener.
What is diaper stripping? Sometimes a build-up can occur on the diapers causing them to become less absorbent & less effective. Using Dawn or Ivory dish soap (*recommended for their grease cutting powers), scrub the diapers by hand vigorously and rinse thoroughly until the water runs clear. Use this method when there has been a buildup on the cloth diapers or as a preventative measure. (* The dish soap is not recommended for use in the washing machine.)
Wet Pail Method
The wet pail method is just like it sounds, a diaper pail filled with water or a mixture of water with either vinegar or baking soda. The vinegar is highly acidic and creates an environment inhospitable to bacteria, germs, etc. The baking soda absorbs smells. All you have to do is dump the entire pail, water and all, into the washing machine and run a spin cycle first to get rid of all the soaking water. If you use the wet pail method find a diaper pail with a locking lid. Many parents don’t like the wet pail method as it may pose an unnecessary drowning risk. It is heavier and more awkward and difficult or next to impossible to do with a front loading washer. Although, it does help keep diapers cleaner. Don’t forget to fold down any Velcro tabs before putting the diapers in the pail. It’s recommended to wash the diapers every 2-3 days or sooner depending on your needs.
Dry Pail Method
The dry pail method is also just like it sounds, a dry diaper pail usually lined with a mesh bag. Although it is not necessary, a stainless steel diaper pail is recommended as plastic diaper pails tend to hold odor. Using a mesh bag as a liner makes it much easier and cleaner. All you need to do is take the mesh bag and all its contents to the washing machine, turn the bag inside out into the washer and wash the contents and mesh bag together. Breastfed babies have BMs that are yogurt like and water soluble, pre-rinsing isn’t necessary before washing the diapers. Babies who have started eating solid foods create more solid BMs, just remove by shaking over toilet, spray with a 1:1 water and vinegar solution and put in pail. (*the 1:1 water and vinegar solution isn’t necessary but it is recommended as it will help lift out stains.) Don’t forget to fold down Velcro tabs before putting the diapers in the pail. It’s recommended to wash the diapers every 2-3 days or sooner depending on your needs. To combat smells put a cotton ball in the bottom of the diaper pail with a few drops of 100% essential oil on it. Lemon or orange 100% essential oils smell great alone or mixed together!