Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Handwashing Flat Diapers with Molly's Suds Cloth Diaper Powder

Handwashing diapers is not my favorite job in the world, but there are certain times when I have to do it.  I usually reserve handwashing for camping trips, traveling, and the Flats and Handwashing Challenge.  This year, I'm using a new detergent in the Challenge.  We started using Molly's Suds Cloth Diaper Powder in September of 2013.  It was the detergent that saved us from having to give up on cloth diapering our son with eczema.  I'm now an Ambassador for Molly's Suds, and I'm excited to share more details about how I'm using this detergent for handwashing.

The thing that made me most excited about using Molly's Suds in the Handwashing Challenge, was that I wanted to avoid having to rinse, rinse, rinse... and rinse.  Every time I handwash, I always add way too much detergent.  I end up with bubbles everywhere and have to keep rinsing the diapers until I'm able to get all the extra detergent out.  Molly's Suds (ironically) never seems to get overly bubbly when I use it in the washing machine, so I hoped that it would be a good choice for handwashing.  I usually use 2 Tbsp of Molly's Suds for 2-3 days worth of diapers in the washing machine, but I knew I would need to optimize the amount needed for handwashing.

How to Handwash Flat Diapers with Molly's Suds Cloth Diaper Powder
1. Unfold flat diapers so that they will rinse and wash easily
2. Rinse the diapers with HOT water
3. Soak the diapers in 1-3 Tbsp of Molly's Suds
4. Wash the diapers by agitating them with a plunger, using your hands, using a washboard, etc.
5. Wring extra water out of the the diapers (this step is optional, but helpful)
6. Rinse the diapers to remove residual detergent
7. Sniff test: did you get the diapers clean?  If not, repeat step 3 (Did you add enough detergent? Did you agitate the diapers enough? Did you soak the diapers in HOT water that was around 120 degrees?)

My first time handwashing washing with Molly's Suds was definitely an experiment.  I had five flat diapers, three covers, and a pathetically small 1-gallon bucket.  I am missing the 5-gallon bucket I previously used to handwash diapers, and the 1 gallon bucket is really too tiny to agitate the diapers effectively.  Because of this, I washed 1 day's worth of diapers in two "loads".  I started by rinsing the diapers in hot water.  My son is about 14-months-old, and even pee-soaked diapers from that morning were rather unpleasant smelling.  After the diapers were rinsed, I soaked them in hot water with 1 Tsp of detergent.  I went outside, did some gardening with my daughter, and returned about 1 hour later to see how the diapers were doing.  I agitated the diapers for a few seconds and wrung out a few to see how they were smelling: they were not smelling good.  It was obvious that I needed to completely unfold the diapers and actually do some WORK!  I agitated the diapers again, wrung, and rinsed the diapers.  This time they smelled clean and fresh. 
Handwashing with Molly's Suds.  This bucket is too small to effectively hand wash.
My poor attempt at agitating diapers in the tiny bucket was really hampering the handwashing I was too impatient to sit and actually agitate the diapers for enough time.  After my first day of rinsing the diapers in the small 1-gallon bucket, I was reminded that I had a medium-sized plastic trash can which was perfect for fully agitating the diapers.  This allowed me to wash 1 day's worth of diapers in a single load using 1 Tbsp of Molly's Suds (I might be able to reduce that amount since it seemed like more than enough detergent).

As I expected, Molly's Suds was not overly "sudsy" and I didn't have the issue of needing to rinse the diapers many times (one rinse was enough).    I noticed that after adding the detergent the diapers actually smelled worse, but this was temporary!  Molly's Suds was loosening all the yucky stuff out of the diapers.  When I came back after 30-45 minutes of soaking in hot water, I did a 2-3 minute agitation by hand, squeezed out excess water, rinsed in hot water, and the diapers smelled fresh and clean.

Because the diapers needed to be opened up to allow the detergent to really get in and do it's job, I think that thicker styles of diapers might need (1) more agitation with a plunger or washboard, (2) a nice, long soak in hot water and Molly's Suds, and (3) possibly the addition of an additive like Oxiclean.  Since I have previously used Oxiclean to save a soiled and dried cloth diaper, I know that it can handle really tough jobs.  I plan to add 1 tsp of Oxiclean if I have a particularly yucky load of diapers to handwash.

Line drying Flats on my shower curtain rod.

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