Washing cloth diapers is easy if you follow some simple steps
- Remove any solid waste. If your baby is on solid foods (or formula fed), get as much poop off the diaper as possible. There are products to help with this process, for example the Spray Pal* and a Diaper Sprayer* can be very helpful. Poops from solid foods will not dissolve in the washing machine. Poop from exclusively breastfeed babies can go right into the washer without rinsing.
- Rinse the diapers. There are a few ways to do the rinse. My preferred way is to rinse the diapers in hot water because warmer water is more likely to open the fabric fibers. You can also set your washer to “rinse” cycle and do a cold water rinse. This will remove any breastfeed poop and also get urine out of the diapers.
- Wash your diapers on hot and add detergent. Set the washer to “hot” and do a normal cycle. You may need to do some experimenting to see how much detergent to use. The general rule is to use 1/4th the recommended amount of detergent. If you are using a detergent made and advertised specifically for cloth diapers, then use the amount of detergent recommended on the package. You might be able to use less detergent if you have soft water. If you see soapy bubbles in the water during the wash cycle, you are using too much detergent (more is not better, it can actually be bad for the diapers).
- Rinse the diapers again. Usually this rinse step is included in your normal wash cycle, but remember to add one if your washer does not include a rinse step.
- Dry the diapers. If you plan on putting your diapers into the dryer, make sure to dry everything on low heat. Diaper covers, or diaper shells (for pocket diapers) should ideally be line-dried. This will keep the diaper shell in nice condition, and prevent separation of the waterproof layer from the fabric. Some brands will tell you that their diaper covers cannot be dried in a dryer or they will shrink, so read the packaging carefully when you purchase diapers.
What if I have a front-loading washing machine? Front loading washers are more difficult to use with cloth diapers. The great thing about front loaders is that they use less water; the bad thing about them (for cloth diapering) is that they use less water. Getting clean diapers really requires that the diapers get nicely agitated in water. People who have front-loading machines will do much better if they wash smaller loads more frequently rather than larger loads less often.
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