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Thursday, March 24, 2011

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The Science of Washing Cloth Diapers

If washing CD's is THE reason, or even A reason that you won't even consider CDing then I am here to let you know that it really is not that much more work.  I have a stash of around 16 CD's and I wash every other day.  That seems like a lot, but once I got my "washing system" down, it is just another part of the day that I don't even blink an eye at.

First, the set up.  Next to my changing table I have a Rubbermaid trash pail that I line with a diaper pail liner (you can get these at any CDing website).  When I take the diaper off, and there is only pee in it, I pull the insert out (if it is a pocket diaper) and throw it into the pail.  If there is poo in there, I just place that in the toilet and flush.  When Sam was exclusively breast feeding his poo was entirely water soluble so I would throw the CD straight into the pail as it will wash right out in the washing machine.  There have been times where I have done the toilet dunk and that works (I don't get disgusted easily in this regard).  Now that he is on solid foods I have ordered a diaper sprayer and can’t wait for it to get here! I keep some baking soda on his changing table and sprinkle that in the pail after a poopy diaper.

When it is time to wash, I take the pail liner filled with the dirties and place them in the washing machine.  This has been a trial and error process and I have learned a lot from following on Facebook.  The method I use is what works with our HE front load washing machine and our very hard water.  First things first, I use Rockin' Green CD laundry soap in Hard Rock and love it and absolutely adore their 2 sided, magnetic laundry scoop!  I start with a warm/warm cycle and use half of the recommended amount of Calgon water softener along with half of the small side of the scoop full of Rockin' Green (remember, I have a front load machine so I generally use, at most, half of the recommended).  Once the first cycle is complete I run a second cycle on hot/cold with half of the large side of the scoop full of Rockin' Green.  The keys to this cycle are: to pause the cycle once the machine fills with water and add 2 pitchers full of HOT water through the detergent port and let it stay on pause for as long as my machine allows in order to soak and to add an extra rinse to the end of this cycle.  That's it for washing, it may seem like a lot but like I said, I HAVE IT DOWN.

On to drying.  I do not put anything with PUL (the diaper covers, pail liners) in the dryer to help them last longer.  I like to dry my CD's outside so that they can sun in order to get any stains and smells out.  The sun acts as a natural bleaching agent.  I do put my inserts, prefolds, doublers, etc. into the dryer for a brief amount of time so that we do not get "crunchy diaper syndrome."

Once dry, I stuff my pocket diapers with their liners and place them all into their drawers and that's that.  No folding.  Stuffing yes, but that isn't necessary, I just do it so that I don't have to stuff when I am changing him.  And honestly, most of the time the clean diapers lie in a pile in front of the changing table for a while before being put away.

A few key notes:
    •    Do not use dryer sheets with your CD's, they can cause build up which makes them repel
    •    Bleach is not recommended on CD's
    •    Check with your CD manufacturer's website as to their washing recommendations

Well, that is all I really have to say about washing.  I promise, it isn't nearly as bad as it seems.

Happy Cloth Diapering!

By: Michelle P.


Andrea G. said...

Michelle, your post could not have come at a better time. Our HE washer and dryer set are being delivered tomorrow and I have basically heard nothing but horror stories of front loaders and cloth diaper washing.

Really, thank you. Now I don't have to sneak my top-loader back into the house tomorrow (I'm kidding... kind of).

Alyssa said...

Thanks for posting. I haven't been very consistently CDing my 27 month old b/c I was never able to get the wash routine to work just right with my front loader and hard water. I have started CDing him again (mostly due to how pricy disposiables can be). Now, I am anxious to try out your rountine. I hope it works b/c I'm pregnanct with out second and plan on CDing that child more consistantly.

Amanda said...

Thanks for posting these tips! I've tried a variety of methods w/my front-loader b/c like many I'm getting the ammonia smell - I am told it's caused by detergent buildup in the diapers. I've tried vinegar (to strip out any detergent residue), baking soda, additional wash cycles WITHOUT detergent and additional rinse cycles but the ammonia smell still comes back. I had never tried adding additional water through the detergent port though! Literally trying it as I type.

Craig and Michelle said...

I did a lot of "stalking" on diapershops Facebook page in order to devise this system and thought I could help others by typing it up! (I did see on one post that Stacy said instead of adding all of the water in the main wash she adds some in the prewash and some in the main wash, I tried that today). This is what has been working for me with no ammonia stink! They do stink in the pail after a couple of days but I am starting to rinse them before putting in the pail and my MIL is making me some hanging, zippered wet bags. So that is one thing that I am changing, to have a zippered bag instead of a pail that isn't sealed since it is in his bedroom. But other than that, they don't stink on him or out of the wash and it isn't a harsh stink like before.
The extra water and Calgon seem to be what really did it! And it really is a quick system now that I have it down.
Another thing I found is that if I leave the detergent drawer open, that will allow an over night soak! But I need to do some research to see if that is bad for the machine for some reason.
One other front loader tip-I have been leaving the door to it open when not in use and it doesn't have that mildew smell anymore.
Hope this helps you devise a system of your own :)

Nicole said...

What about those of us with top-loader machines? Any tips for us?

Momma said...

Great! I was wondering how to get extra water into my front loader. Never thought about using the place where detergent goes. What a great idea. And that would do double duty... I'm sure it would keep the dispenser nice and clean, instead of getting detergent buildup!

Lara + Chris said...

I am so scared of this part of CDing. I have several routines that I've heard of, and I just have to keep reminding myself that it takes some trial and error. But I'm not gonna lie - I hope I get it right the first time! haha

Breeana said...

I thought you weren't supposed to wash cloth diapers in hot water or on hot cycles?

And I've been having a problem with the smells not coming completely out of the diapers and inserts... which has been pretty discouraging.

Thanks for the tip about diapers with PUL! I'll start hang-drying those.


Christine said...

Thanks for posting this. It's nice to hear other washing routines!

Sarah said...

I think it's interesting that you don't do a cold wash, but a warm initial wash instead. I am currently battling with stink (just got some Rockin Green Classic samples today) so I am hoping that doing some switching of our wash routine will help. Thanks!

Craig and Michelle said...

What I do is to compensate for not having a top loader since the front loaders don't use as much water and you can't really soak over night.
This is also focusing on hard water issues. It is all trial and error figuring out what works for you: your washer, water type, the diapers you use, and how often you wash. I am no expert by any means but have become one in what works for us :)
I have truly learned a lot from following diapershops on Facebook! Stacy is great and quick at answering all questions.

The Beck Bunch said...

You are going to love your diaper sprayer! I never thought I would need one but once I got mine I can't imagine what it would be like without it.

Tent Revival said...

A top loader is easy. I just use 1/4 oz of Allen's naturally and wash hot on high with 24 diapers or less. I think the trick to avoiding smells is to use cd friendly detergent for all of your laundry. If I had to have a more complicated routine I think I'd go nuts.

Heather said...

I finally figured out my CD washing schedule and now I am having fun laundering diapers!!! I realized two things.... most importantly, diapers have to be washed often (like every two or at most three days). Also, rinse and wash on cold first to get the stinkies out.

Anonymous said...

I will try the baking soda thing and I want to get and outside rack to dry on but for now sometimes put them on the fence. I do like that you don't dry the PUL diapers I will try that too to see if I can get mine to last longer as well. thanks!