Once I ordered my diapers and they arrived, the next hurdle was determining how to launder them. It really isn’t as scary as it sounds! There are a hundred different ways to do it and everyone has to decide what works for them. But, here is what I do. I have a diaper pail that has a lid. I put wet diapers straight in. For poopy diapers, I swish them around in a clean toilet bowl and wring them out, then I add them to the pail. About every two days I dump all of the contents into the wash and do a cold rinse cycle. Then, I do a wash cycle with detergent. After the washer fills up with water and it swishes the detergent around I turn the washer off and allow the diapers to soak in the water for several hours (and sometimes over night). Then, I turn the washer back on and let it finish washing. I usually run one more rinse cycle just to make sure all the detergent is out because detergent residue can give your baby a nasty case of diaper rash or skin irritation. In the summer I hang my diapers on a clothesline to dry (and I have been known to hang them over the bar stools in the dining room!). Besides saving energy, hanging them on the line outside also eliminates stains! Sunlight really works – try it! I also put all of my diapers in the dryer in the winter. If my diapers have poopy stains I use Oxiclean spray and leave it for a minimum of 24 hours before laundering as usual. And, if they are really bad, I bleach the inserts – but NOT the covers. This brightens them right up!
What kind of detergent do I use?
I have literally tried them all! I’ve used lots of name brand detergents and off brands as well as “green” or environmentally friendly varieties. I like Charlie’s Powder the best. As I mentioned earlier I like Oxiclean for a pretreatment and on occasion I use Biz detergent for soaking or bleach although this is not part of my regular routine. If I don’t have Charlie’s I use Biz and on occasion I have used Purex naturals. You have to figure out what works for you but one thing to keep in mind is that “free” versions of detergents (as in free of dyes) that sounds really great but something in it is not great for cloth diapers. Read the label- do not use anything containing “whitening enzymes”. Above all, DO NOT use Arm and Hammer Fabricare Advanced Powder Detergent. It has whitening enzymes in it which apparently “eat” skin causing severe rashes. Avoid whiteners and brighteners. Tide, Ivory Snow and Dreft are considered harsh and are also not recommended for regular use.
If you talk to other cloth diapering mamas you’ll get a thousand other tips and washing scenarios. I tried dozens of detergents and lots of different methods and finally came up with what works for me and it is likely that you will too!