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  How to Wash Cloth Diapers (and why it's different than washing clothes) | NourishingJoy.com

 

Up until just a few years ago, my job was to live and breathe cloth diapering. I worked for Canada's premier cloth diapering company as both an instructor and a writer to help new parents (and parents who were just switching to cloth for the first time) think through their decisions to be able to decide if cloth diapering was right for them, and if so, choose the diapers that would best work in their situation.

Thus, I talked about washing A LOT! Over the years, I have answered thousands of questions about cloth diapers, mostly hinging around how to washing them.

I also wrote a full series on the science of doing laundry – how the type of water, the water quality, the amount of water, the type of agitation, water additives, the types of fabrics, the detergent ingredients, as well as other wash additives all affect HOW cloth diapers get clean – and this post is a very short summary of that full series.

Update March 2016: I used to link to the full series of articles so you could read them all, but unfortunately the company I used to work for has gone through two new owners since I worked there and has redesigned a few times, so the articles have disappeared. If I can find their new home, I'll definitely link to them again!

 

How to Wash Cloth Diapers

So, to start, let's take a look at the basic cloth diapering wash routine recommended by many diaper manufacturers and then discuss why they make these recommendations:

*Rinse on cold
*Long wash on warm or hot
*Double rinse

“Rinse on cold” – You need to have sufficient time to loosen and drain away any lingering nasties – you know, like the uric acid that’s been sitting on the diaper for two days and those little pieces of poo that remain after dumping the solids in the toilet. It’s sort of the same reason as why you scrape your dishes before you put them in the dishwasher – the more gunk the washer has to deal with, the more cycles you’re going to have to do in order to get them truly clean.

“Long wash on warm or hot” – You need time to activate and fully dissolve the detergent and give it time to do its work. Different detergents require different amounts of time to become fully activated. The length of time required for this will depend on the type of detergent, the temperature of your water, the amount of water, as well as the water quality. Once it’s fully activated and doing its work, it needs sufficient time to fully bond with the grime so the grime can be lifted from the fabric and washed away. Thus, you want a long wash.

“Double rinse” – You need to allow time for the detergent to be completely washed away too. If you skip this part of the cycle, it’s easy for detergent residue to be left on your lovely fluffy fibers, which can cause leaks, diaper rash, and possibly even extra-stinky diapers because of a chemical reaction that happens when urine hits that detergent residue the next time the diaper is used.

These recommendations certainly apply no matter what type of washing machine you have, but they are even more important if you have a high-efficiency machine. Since you have to “trick” your machine into using enough water and there’s not much agitation to have sufficient cleaning action, allowing enough time is absolutely crucial.

And of course, when you’re done washing, you can dry your diapers however you like – hanging them on a line, drying them on a rack, or tossing them in the dryer.

 

How to Wash Cloth Diapers (and Why It's Different Than Washing Clothes) | NourishingJoy.com

 

Why Washing Cloth Diapers is Different Than Washing Clothes

Why is washing cloth diapers different that washing clothes? The answer is really quite simple.

Think about it – with clothes, most of the dirtiness is on the outside: ice cream drips, grass stains, deodorant residue. With diapers,  however, most of the dirtiness is on the inside, rather than just sitting on the surface.

Obviously, it’s going to take extra time to get all that water through the diaper rather than just dealing with the dirt and grime on the surface.

So let's take a closer look at all the factors at play here…

Cloth Diaper Guide

The “Swish” Factor

The lovely ladies over at the Rockin’ Green blog describe swish this way:

“Swish or agitation is a very important component of any good wash routine. The diapers need to not only move around in the wash tub, but they also need to rub up against one another.

Think of how you wash your hands – do you run them under water to get lather, or do you rub your hands together? With too many diapers in a load, they just rotate around the tub in a bunch. Not enough diapers and they swim around the wash basin blissfully (and dirtily) unaware of their neighbors.

So if you have a top loader, load the machine to about the halfway point. For a front loader, you want to have enough items in the drum to where you can put a hands width between the top of the drum and the clothing.”

And don’t worry about all this rubbing wearing out your diapers – diapers are designed to rub together in the wash. In fact, it actually “fluffs” them a bit, which makes sure excess oils that affect absorbency are removed, it creates more space between the fibers (which also increases absorbency), and it softens them.

Water Quality

This only matters because different types of water have different levels of minerals – such as calcium, iron, and phosphorus – and the minerals affect how your detergent works.

Overall, you don't really need to worry about this, unless you have extremely hard water (which you'll know because all your sinks, tubs, toilets, etc will have red iron stains on them!). In that case, just watch for absorbency issues and unexplained, prolonged diaper rash. If either of those issues arise, start adding a water softener or bit of washing soda along with your detergent, as the washing soda (sodium carbonate) will bind with the minerals and soften the water, allowing the detergent to better do its work.

Water Quantity

Whether you have a top-loading, agitator machine or a front-loading, high-efficiency machine, how much water you use is critical is cleaning your diapers thoroughly.

Partially because diapers are thicker than many other types of wash, partially because you’re specifically trying to get the “dirty” out of the middle rather than just the surface, and partially because the ammonia from urine is particularly good at clinging to fabric fibers, water is the only way to thoroughly and efficiently clean your diapers through and through.

In a standard agitator machine, the level of water is easy to determine, as the machine is designed to fill with water to your predetermined level. It’s important to have enough water to cover the diapers fully without filling so much that the diapers float about like objects in space – the diapers need to be able to rub against each other in the wash action and if there’s too much water, they sort of just float past each other, as we discussed above.

In a high-efficiency washer, the amount of water is equally important, but more difficult to gauge merely because HE washers are designed to reduce the amount of water to just enough to saturate the fabrics. To make up for the lack of swish, the engineers extended the wash time (which is why loads in HE washers take f-o-r-e-v-e-r), which works well for most loads where the soil is on the surface of the fabrics, but not so great for diapers.

For diapers, an extended wash time alone just isn’t enough to get diapers squeaky clean – you still need as much water as possible in the drum. So, you basically just have to trick your washer into adding as much water as possible. Depending on your model, you can do a “rinse and spin” cycle with the spin cycle off or select the “prewash” setting. You can also add a wet towel or a pair of jeans to the load, as this will make the load heavier (the amount of water added to the drum is calculated by weight).

Detergent

I won't get into a discussion of brands here, but there are two things to remember about detergent that come into play:

1. When it comes to diapers, don't skimp on the detergent. Detergent is designed to attract dirt, bacteria, and grime to itself, then release into the water to be easily washed away. With all the bacteria, proteins, fats, acids, and other components of human waste, less is NOT more.

I've seen lots of advice to use only a tablespoon or two of detergent per load of diapers, which is usually touted to save money or to avoid detergent buildup, both of which are well-meaning fallacies, as frugal-minded parents will end up spending more in the long-run by doing extra washes to deal with lingering smells and residues that aren't fully washed off, and detergent build-up isn't caused by excess detergent, but rather by excess grime on the diapers that trap the detergents, usually because insufficient detergent was used in the first place.

Those residues can be multiple things ranging from uric acid crystals to caked on soap to diaper creams to detergent additives that are designed to stay on the fabric, such as fabric softeners, optical brighteners, and fragrances.

Needless to say, generally you should use the full amount of detergent prescribed by the manufacturer during each wash.

2. Don't use detergents that include fabric softener, fragrance, brighteners, or dyes. Whether these ingredients leave residues after every wash or not, they're definitely capable of causing rashes and soreness on your baby's bum, so avoid them whenever possible.

I'm on the fence about enzymes, because on one hand, I see using Branch Basics – an enzyme-based cleaner – as an excellent addition to your laundry, but on the other the other hand, I've seen some brands stuffed with ingredients listed as enzymes that still leave fabrics feeling tacky afterward, so definitely use your own judgement and preference on this one.

So, there you have it. A short run-down of the laundry science when it comes to how to wash cloth diapers!

(And if that doesn't answer your questions, check out our post on how to strip cloth diapers for some ideas on troubleshooting problems with lingering odors….)

 

What are your biggest hurdles/frustrations when you're washing cloth diapers?

 

 

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43 thoughts on “How to Wash Cloth Diapers (and Why It’s Different Than Washing Clothes)

  1. Charis says:

    Thank you soo much for this article! I needed some good detailed instructions about washing my bum genius diapers. THank YOU!!!

  2. Kasha says:

    I always did a 4 cycle process. Baking soda soak for 4 hours, hot wash with free and clear detergent, rinse with vinegar, then a rinse with plain water. It was a long process but I never had a single stink or stain issue. The only stain we ever had was from my daughter sitting on a wet piece of pink sidewalk chalk in a white diaper. Never had to bleach, sun bleach, or strip them.

  3. Rachel Miller says:

    Living overseas, we don’t have access to hot water for our machine (apart from heating up buckets of water and putting them in the wash, more time consuming than I’d like). Leaking is a constant problem. Is hot water the only way to get the detergent out?
    (We always pre-rinse the dirties out of our diapers, then soak with Nappi Kleen til time for washing).

    • Kresha says:

      Hi, Rachel!! 🙂

      No, hot water is not the only way to get the lingering detergent out – the amount of water can do that too. Perhaps play around with using LESS detergent (so there’s less to get rid of) and adding an extra rinse cycle or two.

      Do you use Nappi Kleen for your detergent as well, or do you use a different one? If the leaking issues continue, perhaps try using baking soda for the soak instead of Nappi Kleen for a few loads – just to figure out the source of the problem, if nothing else. 🙂

      Blessings to you!

      • Rachel Miller says:

        Hi Kresha, yes, we’ve used Nappi Kleen for the soak but we’ll try baking soda. Three months now til we welcome another little Miller, so this is all so relevant! 🙂

  4. Christina K. says:

    Liked this conversation; really like the cloth diapers. Mine are extra green as I am the second owner of them plus the 1st owner informed me her mother sewed / made all the inserts for her! Amazing – wish I was her daughter. Anyhow…. Bought a large amount from a family posting on craigslist who also shared how they kept them nice. Here is the method: Get a couple 3 gallon buckets w/ lids. (I bought mine from a local deli. Their pickles came in them, they are food grade plastic, and they resold the buckets for only $1 a piece!) Get some non chorine bleach like oxyclean. About halfway fill a bucket with water and a scoop of the non chlorine bleach. If you have room keep it in the bathroom. When you have a dirty diaper, rinse it out as good as you can and then into the bucket it goes. When you have a load worth do your load. Typically I do a load a day & try to do it in the morning, as early as possible just to have some routine/ sanity. I like the results I get but after reading the above comments I think I may try water and baking soda in the buckets as a soaking agent. It would save some money to be able to use baking soda! For the record, we have a HE washer (which I hate!!) I set it on a wash cycle for heavily dirty clothes (hot wash cold rinse about 1 hr total time) and also set it for a second rinse. Thanks to all who shared on this post!!

    • Kresha says:

      Christina,

      Yay for Craigslist!

      And thanks for sharing the method that has worked for you. I definitely like the idea of food-grade buckets! Cheap and sturdy is good. 🙂

      I will, however, throw in one very strong caution. With modern cloth diapers, it is strongly NOT recommended to store them in water, as it will break down the elastics, velcros, and plasticized fabrics and seriously shorten the life of your diapers. It can also void any warranty on the diapers if you are the first owner. I recommend doing exactly as you’re doing, just using it dry instead of filled with water, and if you absolutely want to soak them before washing, just give them a good 4 hour soak with baking soda or something like Rockin’ Green’s Funk Rock before tossing them in the washer.

      Since you’re washing once a day (as opposed to every 2-3 days), it’s probably not an issue, especially if you have enough diapers that the diapers can be out of use for a day or two (and thus are not being soaked and washed every single day).

  5. Amorie says:

    Should flats be washed like this as well? They don’t have the bulk that makes it easy to get buildup like other cloth diapers do.

    • Kresha says:

      You certainly can, as they certainly are easier to wash since they’re only one layer of fabric. 🙂

      For a load of just flats, you could get by without a prolonged wash cycle and the second rinse. Just watch for smell issues – if they never arise, you’re all good!

  6. Jenni says:

    I ruined the elastic in about 20 diapers by using the dryer. elastic breaks down with the dry heat. so now i hang dry everything then toss in the dryer for a few minutes to soften them.

    • Kresha says:

      That’s a great tip and a great way to extend the life of your elastics! 🙂

      For those who must use the dryer, you can take good care of your elastics by letting the diapers cool completely before handling them and drying your diapers on “low” if you can.

      Thanks for a great comment!

  7. Debbie says:

    I have VERY hard water and am often battling ammonia diaper rashes. My poor sweet babies get a rash when the ammonia builds up. I have tried EVERYTHING! I regularly use Hard Rock from Rockin’ Green and the Funk Rock and STILL have the problem. I have to strip them in boiling water every 6 months. It’s a pain. I have an HE washer, I think that contributes to the problem. I have tried adding baking soda, washing soda, Calgon, Oxi-Clean, you name it. Can be very frustrating at times. But with 2 in diapers, it’s worth the extra time to save the money. IMHO. Thanks for the suggestions!

    • Kresha says:

      That is frustrating! Having hard water is one of the most difficult battles when cloth diapering! But you’re so right – it is worth the time. 🙂 I hope one of these suggestions help – if it does, please let us know!

    • Anna says:

      If you’re getting ammonia buildup I’ve read to soak them for 30 minutes in a bathtub half full of water then add like half a cup of bleach. After the 30 minute soak, do your normal wash routine but with regular Tide with no added softeners. Sounds like your “cloth diaper safe” detergents aren’t doing a very good job.

  8. April Shaner says:

    Thanks for this informative post. I love our cloth diapers, but have noticed that every once in a while one or two have an odor still so I am so grateful for your recommendations. Also I read somewhere that using vinegar in the first rinse (I put it in as my fabric softener) helps take the urine/ammonia odor out. I have had success with it. I also sometimes use peroxide in my bleach dispenser with my regular clothes, do you know if this would work on diapers? I have an HE washer also and didn’t realize it made this a bigger chore. Love your website I always come away learning something new, keep it up!

    • Kresha says:

      Aw, thanks, April. Thank you for your kind words.

      Yes, the vinegar during the first rinse often works well because it neutralizes the pH of the ammonia in the urine and wastewater, which allows the detergent to better bind with all those undesirables and get rinsed away. I’ve heard more and more people lately say that it really works and I think I’m going to start making it a part of my regular routine too. I’m glad to hear it works for you!

      The peroxide in the bleach dispenser should work beautifully with cloth diapers. In fact, the homemade detergent that I regularly use (and that I’ll post up one of these days) uses a dry form of peroxide as a large component. Also, our homemade bleach recipe uses peroxide and it works really well.

  9. Susannah says:

    Totally needed this right now!!! I am battling the ammonia smell and stinkies with my son’s cloth diapers! THANK YOU!!!

  10. Rachel says:

    My son is 14 months and we’ve been cloth diapering from the beginning. We started with fuzzibunz but then moved to cotton flats with wool diaper covers. My problem is that they seem to be giving my son a rash for the last few months and we can’t figure it out! We rinse, do a long wash, rinse with vinegar, have tried tea tree oil with the rinse, and we sun them most every time we wash them, but nothing is helping the rash go away. There are these tiny black spots on the cleaned diapers that don’t wash off (not in the cotton, just little dots lying on the cotton, so it’s not mold). Any suggestions??

    • Kresha says:

      Hmmm… it almost sounds like the rash isn’t originating with the diapers, unless he’s reacting to the detergent in some way. Have you ruled out food allergies? One of my sons at had horrible diaper rash for months, including open, weeping sores, that I attributed originally to the diapers, but realized it was a dairy sensitivity and thus if his poo stayed up against his skin for any period of time, he reacted.

      I’ve also posted your question on our Facebook page, as the mamas there tend to have great ideas in situations like these.

      https://www.facebook.com/nourishingjoy/posts/658086547541302

      Good luck!

  11. Karen says:

    Hi, I have the same issue with my son at Rachel. He have been getting horrible rashes, with red sores that bleed or open back up if they’ve healed when we have to whip him well. I tried using essential oils to heal his rash, but what ever we did it just kept coming back or persisting. So we switched to disposable just as a test, and it’s gone away, and any time we put him back into the cloth diapers he gets a rash again. I’m not sure what I can to to treat our cloth diapers so he’s not getting rashes?! I’ve used these same diapers on our other son, so maybe I just need to get ride of these and start over? I just throw the dirty ones in a bag, and they sit for a few days till we get a batch, so maybe mold is growing in them, and I know bleach doesn’t always kill mold. Could mold be causing his rash, and if so what can you do if bleach doesn’t even kill it?

    • Kresha says:

      Oh, it can be so frustrating to not be able to ferret out the source of a problem! I have absolutely been there. So, here are a few ideas.

      First, I would strip ALL your diapers. Stripping will get rid of any residues, molds, viruses, bacteria, anything that could be causing reactions. Keep in mind that even if it may seem like there aren’t residues, there are sometimes residues that only cause an issue when urine hits them and a little chemical reaction happens, so stripping is a great first step when troubleshooting. Here’s a description of how to do that: https://www.newandgreen.com/blog/stripping-your-diapers-when-why-and-how

      Second, I would try to wash at least every three days. I know it’s tempting to wait until you’ve got a full bag or whatever, but past the three day mark, the reactions of the ammonia in the urine and the solid waste residues can really embed themselves in the fabrics of your diapers. You’ll also wear out your elastics and waterproof fabrics significantly faster by letting them sit longer, so just to keep all those things at bay and help reduce the amount of residues against your son’s skin, do more frequent washes.

      You can try adding a bit of oxygen bleach or our homemade bleach (http://www.njbeta.wpengine.com/homemade-bleach/) to your load, but avoid chlorine bleach at all cost, as it will eat through any synthetic fabrics and wear them down.

      Try using a fleece liner. Since fleece does not absorb moisture, it provides a “stay dry” layer between the diaper and your son’s skin. Whether he’s reacting to the urine up against his skin or residues on the diaper, this will provide a bit of a barrier.

      And lastly, make sure you’re changing your son often. I know that sounds obvious, but with the modern feat of engineering that is the disposable diaper, all the moisture is sucked up and held away from the skin, whereas with cloth, there’s certainly great absorbency but the moisture and uric acid residue is right against the skin. If he has sensitive skin in any way, it may not be readily noticeable with a disposable, but will manifest itself quickly in cloth.

      I hope that helps in some way, shape, or form! It’s no fun dealing with open, weeping sores. 🙁

    • Lindsey says:

      I had a similar issue and it was due to a yeast infection. We had to treat the diapers and the skin for about a month until it cleared up. I used tea tree oil and Grapefruit seed extract in the laundry and mama angel baby diaper cream on the skin. Maybe that would work for you?

  12. Candy says:

    Thanks for all the helpful tips. Our problem with my grandson’s diapers are yellow stains. I’ve tried all these suggestions except the baking soda in the first rinse.
    I check each diaper after the cold rinse before the hot wash. If stained I rinse again to prevent “baking” in the stain.

    The stains persist unless I soak immediately in oxyclean water, which I realize now is bad for the diapers.
    My daughter is taking natural iron for mild anemia. Could her vitamins or iron cause normal breast fed baby poop to become a permanent dye?

    • Kresha says:

      Yes, her multi-colored poo from the vitamins and iron could become a permanent dye, although strong sunlight will bleach just about anything given a few days. I’ve gotten beet juice poo and that technicolor yellow newborn poo out of diapers just by hanging them out in the sun for multiple days in the summer (several months after they set), so it’s not totally permanent. 🙂

      Also, the soak is only bad for the diapers if they have elastics, velcro, snaps, or synthetic fabrics. If you’re using plain prefolds, feel free to soak. I personally don’t like soaking and typically don’t recommend it merely because it causes extra work and it can ruin anything synthetic (as well as wear down fibres over time), but if it makes you feel better, do it! 🙂

      And by the way, that’s a great tip to check the diapers after the cool rinse to avoid “baking” in the stain. I’ve recommended to some families to check diapers before putting them in the dryer for that reason, but I hadn’t mentioned it for the hot wash cycle. Thanks for bringing it up!

  13. Maggie says:

    We don’t have the red stains, but we have been battleing consister, bad, open sore diaper rash for a while…I have been doing a large load (lots of diapers) with All Free and Clear on hot wash, cold rinse (my washer has limited options) and running through about 5 full cycles…but his bottom is still bad…I have just put washing soda on my list, and will lower the amount of diapers I have in the wash and see if I can do a similar cycle…I know I can do a cold/cold cycle, but the hot is only hot/cold…thanks for this article…hoping the washing soda really helps 🙂

    • Kresha says:

      Yes, hopefully the washing soda will help!

      If it doesn’t however, definitely make use of some of the links in this article to research your type of water (in case it’s not allowing the detergent to do its work due to its mineral content) or take a look at your son’s diet. My son had open, weeping wounds for months until I realized it wasn’t the diapers – he was sensitive to milk.

      It sounds like you’re doing everything you can – your son obviously has a fantastic mom. 🙂 The best to you!

  14. Sudspenser says:

    Interesting article you can learn something new everyday. Washing cloth diapers is big job and sound like an all day job. Thanks for writing article maybe it’s time for us guys to wakeup and help out around the house.

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  16. Bre says:

    how important is the second rinse if you have a top-load washer? I’ve always skipped it and have never had any issues with odors or leaking. If I’m using enough water, is is sufficient to just do 1 rinse before washing and 1 rinse after?

    • Kresha Faber says:

      Definitely. The second rinse is just to ensure that every last bit of detergent has been rinsed away, but if you haven’t noticed any odors or leaking and you’ve been washing them that way for several months, then it’s likely fine to skip the second rinse. Every machine is different – in terms of how much water the load uses, the length of cycle, the shape of the washing paddle (which determines how much swish there is), etc – so manufacturers tend to recommend a second just to make sure diapers are fully rinsed. The odor and leaking issue due to detergent residue usually only shows up after several months, as it’s a build-up sort of issue, and a thorough rinse helps the diapers last longer.

      So, yes, one rinse before and one rinse after sounds like it’s fine in your case. 🙂

  17. Megan says:

    So I am new to this whole cloth diapering, I love it – but honestly I am getting a headache, but determined to not be defeated and through in the towel yet!
    My son is 16 months old – so completely on a normal diet! Our diapers have a stink that I have not been able to get rid of – no matter how many washes!
    I started out using ALL Free & Clear as we have serious sensitive skin in this family! This is our wash routine cold rinse , cold rinse no spin as we have a top load He washer, then a hot wash cycle set to heavy with extra rinse! I even tried stripping with Dawn the original blue dish soap!
    So a good friend and cloth diapering momma told me she uses Tide original and adds an extra rinse! So I did my wash cycle the same, plus added and extra wash cycle just to remove all detergent and – yes they still have a funky poop smell!
    Please help!!!!

    • Kresha Faber says:

      Megan,

      You are not alone! Many of us have dealt with lingering funky smells, most certainly.

      Here are a few thoughts:

      What type of diapers are you using? I don’t mean brands, but just fabrics. For example, stink tends to cling to polyester or hemp more than it clings to bamboo or fleece.

      Do you by chance live in a sunny place (doesn’t have to be hot necessarily, just bright)? Next time after you do your wash, let the diapers dry in the sun. Then, when they’re dry, spray them with water (or dunk them in water and wring them out) and let them dry again. Sunlight – and most specifically UV rays – are brilliant for getting out lingering stains and smells and it works best on damp cloth. It has sometimes taken me up to three days of doing this to get rid of smells. And even then, even when the diapers smell clean, you’ll still want to do a strip on them to make sure any lingering residues that future smells could cling to are removed.

      If you don’t want to use sunshine or you don’t live in a sunny place – then stripping is the best way to remove those residues. In your case, I would recommend a strip that begins with a soak in water with hydrogen peroxide and then no detergent whatsoever through the entire wash/rinse cycle, as what you’re trying to do is get rid of the residues that the smells are clinging to more than you’re trying to deal with the smell itself. (And actually, your comment here reminded me that I’ve never posted about how to strip diapers – I’ll post that “how to” in the next few days!)

      And lastly, once your smell is gone, perhaps take a look at how much detergent you’re using and try using LESS (I say that not knowing how much you use) – say just 1-2 tablespoons of powdered detergent. Especially if you’ve got sensitive skin in the family and especially if you have an HE washer, making sure all the detergent is rinsed off each time will help keep those baby cheeks happy. 🙂

      I hope that helps – or is at least a start in the right direction! Funky diapers can be so frustrating!

      P.S. You mentioned Dawn – that can be excellent, but you’ll have to make sure it’s totally and completely rinsed off. Out of curiosity, did you include it as part of a stripping routine or did you substitute it for your regular detergent during a regular wash?

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  19. Sandra says:

    I’ve never used cloth diapers before but I’m thinking about giving it a try. Before actually dealing with the stains, I mean the really messy part of this business… What or how?? I wouldn’t even begin to fathom what one would do to get that out of the diaper. I’m sure this sounds completely silly and some would say, “use your imagination” but my imagination is not helping matters. Lol.

    • Kresha Faber says:

      Ha! Totally hear you! 🙂 I’m actually writing a series on dealing with poop right now, so your comment is timely. 🙂 But since I haven’t published that series yet, here’s the basic run-down.

      If your baby is 100% breastfed, the poop is completely water soluble and you don’t need to worry about getting the poop off at all. Just toss in the diaper pail/wet bag until wash day. (Stains are another issue – rinsing will help with that. 🙂 )

      If your baby is receiving any formula or is eating solid foods, then the issue of getting the poop off is a bit more important so you don’t have floaties in the wash. 🙂 Basically, you just need to get all the solids off – don’t worry about rinsing the diaper beyond that. You’ve got a few options:

      A diaper sprayer – this little hose that looks like the sprayer you might have on your kitchen sink hooks up to your toilet and when you have a soiled nappy, just hold it over the toilet and (gently!) spray the solids into the toilet. Very effective.

      Diaper liners (flushable) – you can lay a liner inside the diaper so that if there are solids to deal with, you just toss it in the toilet like toilet paper and you have little-to-no solids left in the diaper

      Diaper liners (fleece or silk) – you can also use a washable diaper liner. You still need to get the solids off, but poop tends to come off fleece and silk more easily than it with other fabrics, so it’s an easier job

      Scrape it off – Nothing glamourous about this option, but it’s cheap and effective. Have a plastic spatula from the dollar store, an old table knife, an extra g-diapers swish stick, or whatever flat item you’re willing to use as a scraper to get solids off.

      “The 4-Corner Swish” – a colleague of mine coined the name for this method and I love it. It’s the old-fashioned dunk-and-swish done a bit more tidily. Basically, you hold the diaper by its four corners or tabs with the dirty side facing out, then swish it around in the toilet without dunking the corners in. You can flush the toilet while you’re holding the four corners, too, for an extra bit of oomph. It’s the most “hands-on” of the methods and can be a bit overwhelming but it’s effective and gets the job done. 🙂

      So, those are the basic options – and really, none of them are as bad as they sound. Give it a try and see which works best for you! 🙂

      I hope that helps!

  20. Sadie says:

    I have been washing my cloth diapers with Charlie’s Soap for the past 17 months. Up until 3 months ago, I have had no problems. Now, I am dealing with terrible ammonia and sometimes rashes on my baby’s bottom. I revisited Charlie’s Soap’s website, and it says I need to add some type of formula to kill the bacteria. I tried their suggestion of hydrogen peroxide in the rinse cycle and it wasn’t very successful. So another suggestion was a tbsp of chlorine bleach in my wash cycle. I have been doing this for two weeks, and it seems to cut down on the ammonia a significant amount. However, it doesn’t completely resolve the issue, and I hate using chlorine bleach every wash. Do you have recommendations? Should I use your laundry-grade homemade bleach to replace the chlorine bleach? If so, how much should I use, which step of the washing process should I use it, and is it OK to use every time I wash my diapers (every other day)?

    Thank you so much!

    • Kresha Faber says:

      Sadie,

      Oh, that can be such a frustrating issue! Painful for your baby and stressful for you!

      I actually would suggest a strip at this point rather than adding new products into the mix. That should help reset everything. Here’s how to do it: http://njbeta.wpengine.com/how-to-strip-cloth-diapers/ Also, if you’ve established that it’s a bacteria problem, be sure to use the absolutely hottest, longest wash you can as part of the stripping process.

      Huge hugs!

  21. Emily says:

    Since our daughter started to ‘seriously’ teeth (as in, actually producing teeth along with the symptoms) we’ve dealt with overnight ammonia stink & horrible rashes. Daytime diapers aren’t usually a problem, but we’ve resorted to overnighting with disposables. Any suggestions? We have mostly organic cotton flat folds (these in particular get the ammonia stink), and always wash with additional washing soda & vinegar in the rinse.

    • Kresha Faber says:

      Hi, Emily! Oh, that’s so frustrating! I hope her rash has been improving.

      Well, since it’s only overnight, not all the time, I’m not inclined to think there’s serious build-up of any kind, but there is obviously something in the urine that wasn’t there before and the best solution is to change often and wash often. I know you said it’s an overnight issue, so changing more often is likely difficult, but you do need to increase breathability in some manner, so if you’re not using a wool cover already, perhaps consider that, or a microfiber diaper with a dry layer on top, such as Tots Bots, which will hold the moisture farther away from the skin, like a disposable. You could also add a wide strip of fleece as a stay-dry option.

      Also, perhaps add an additional wash each week into your routine just to make sure none of the uric acid is lingering longer than necessary on the fabrics. Keeping everything as clean as possible will minimize reactions as well. It sounds like you’ve got a wash routine down that works for you, though, so I wouldn’t mess with the way you do laundry – it sounds great!

      So, I hope that helps and I hope your daughter’s overnight misery is soon alleviated!

  22. Mo says:

    Does anyone know if soapnuts can be used instead of detergent for washing cloth diapers? If so, how many per wash should be used and how often should they be changed? Thank you!

    • Kresha Faber says:

      I used soapnuts for awhile and I found they mostly worked well, but every few weeks I needed to switch to detergent for a wash or two to keep things fresh. They also didn’t do well and getting out stains, so detergent was needed for that as well.

      I don’t remember how many I used, but I do remember it was the maximum number the manufacturer recommended to be used at once. I’m thinking 5 or 6?

      I don’t know if that helps much, so maybe other readers can chime in?

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