Washing & Caring For Your Cloth Diapers
Washing and caring for your cloth diapers is much easier than you think. This page will give you some great information to get you started. Please feel free to ask questions if you feel I've missed something.
Where should I put my dirty diapers - Wet Pail or Dry Pail?
Generally speaking a "wet pail" is how things USED TO be done. Now you can use a dry pail for your cloth diapers and it is just as effective and MUCH easier. Simply toss dirty diapers into your pail until you are ready to wash. You can use just about anything you like for a pail - a bucket, garbage can or just hang up a bag! I prefer using a pail liner in a big Rubbermaid garbage can, simply because it can go in the wash with the diapers AND I have no bucket or can to wash out.
But What Do I Do With the Poop?
First and foremost - breastfed babies have poop that is water soluble. This means you can toss the whole diaper into the wash, poop and all! No need to worry about rinsing! With formula fed babies, or babies who have started solids, the simplest way to deal with poop is to use a liner. Biodegradable liners are available. You just grab a corner and toss the whole thing in the toilet and flush! You can use fleece liners that would require rinsing, then washing and re-using. I personally don't use liners, I rinse my diapers in the laundry tub and then toss in the washer. Diaper sprayers are available that attach to your toilet to keep things easy and clean as well.
So How Do I Wash Them?
Please refer to the About Wool section for specific wash and care for all your wool products!
It is recommended that you separate all pieces of your diapers and remove all inserts from pockets and AIO’s (not necessary, but recommended). You can wash all of your inserts, prefolds, pockets, covers, wipes, etc together at one time. No need to separate!
1. Toss everything into the washing machine
2. Pre-wash on COLD with no detergent
3. Regular wash on HOT/COLD setting (some new front loaders have sanitary option) with detergent. This cycle should wash on HOT and then do a rinse in COLD.
4. One extra additional rinse and spin with COLD.
5. Toss in dryer or hang to dry.
I usually recommend drying on your HOT setting. This will help "seal" the PUL of pocket diapers. You should toss them in the dryer at least once a week if you are air drying. Again this will seal keep the PUL waterproof. Also, if you prefer to hang your diapers to dry keep in mind that hemp and bamboo products will get stiff when air drying. To avoid this toss them in the dryer for 10 minutes either before you hang them up, or when they are almost dry.
How Much Detergent Should Be Used?
For a Top Loading Machine – approx. ¼ cup
For a Front Loading Machine – approx. 1 – 2 teaspoons
When doing the final rinse check to make sure there are no bubbles left in the machine. If so, do another rinse and next time use less detergent! These amounts are suggestions, all washing machines are different. It may take some trial and error on your behalf to figure out what works for you.
It is recommended that you DO NOT use any of the following:
Bleach (although can be occasionally used on microfiber inserts, but need to be rinsed VERY well)
I recommend something with no perfume, no dyes, and definitely NO fabric softeners. I have been using Arm & Hammer Essentials (unscented), which is also biodegradable and phosphate free!! (Available at Zellers and Sobey’s) But there are many other types of detergents available that work just as well.
What About Stains???
Once an item has been removed from the washer and it appears to have a stain on it, lay in the sun to dry (without putting it into the dryer) and the sun will bleach the stain out. For harder to remove stains on INSERTS, you can try a little bit of stain remover or lemon juice and then re-wash and rinse VERY well to remove all residue.
Brand New Hemp:
Hemp needs to be “prepped” before it can be used or washed with other diapers. This is to remove natural oils that can cause build-up on the other diapers. It is recommended that you wash hemp 2-4 times (dry in between each wash) before use. You will find you get maximum absorbency after approx. 6-8 washes. At your own discretion: You can also boil hemp on the stove for approx. 20 minutes and then put it in the wash, instead of doing the prewashing. Boiling hemp is like washing it about 4-6 times. When boiling watch closely at the water will absorb quickly and you will need to add more water to the pot. NEVER leave a pot unattended. Peekaboo Bottoms will not assume any liability for those who attend to boil hemp items on the stove.
Brand New Bamboo:
Like hemp, bamboo does need to be washed several times before it is full absorbent. Although bamboo does not have oils like hemp. You should wash all bamboo products at least 4 times before the first use. However, bamboo will not be fully absorbent until AT LEAST 10 washes.
Occasionally diapers get detergent build-up. This is usually caused from too much detergent and not enough rinsing. You will notice this when a diaper doesn’t absorb as well, seems to leak when it hasn’t in the past or when the diaper "smells" the minute the baby has peed. To clear the build-up to need to strip your diapers (see below).
What To Do With Stinky Diapers:
If the diapers are still “smelly” after washing and there wasn’t any suds on the last rinse you may want to use more detergent the next time (remember you don’t need a TON of suds, just some! Also, keep in mind that Natural detergents don't produce nearly as many suds as regular detergents - that's ok!! Don't add more detergent to compensate). Other option is sunning your diapers. This seems to be the most effective way to get any type of "odour" out of your diaper. In the winter time you can still do this by placing your diapers on a drying rack and putting them in a spot where the sun is coming through the window. I have also heard of moms placing them on the front dash or back window of their cars! Another option is to boil the diaper for 10-20 minutes - BUT BE VERY CAREFUL!!!
You can effectively strip your diapers by either using a tiny squirt of Dawn Original dish soap in your washing machine, and then re-wash and rinse, rinse, rinse! Or another option is to keep washing your diapers (without detergent) in the washing machine on hot wash/cold rinse until you have effectively removed all soap build-up/residue. If you are going to use Dawn: for a top loader you only need about 1 tablespoon full, for a front loader approx. the size of a dime/nickel will suffice.
What About Diaper Creams?
Generally babies who are cloth diapered rarely need creams or Vaseline. This is because of the breathability of cloth diapers compared to disposables. Occasionally babies do get red and tender. This could be from sensitive skin, diapers that weren't rinsed well enough, or teething rash to name a few. In these instances I recommend using a product that is safe with cloth such as Weleda (zinc oxide based) or Grandma El's (petroleum based). Using other products could lead to problems with your diapers.
What kind of problems? Creams and petroleum based products are designed to act as a water barrier to protect babies' skin. However they can also leave a film on your diaper which will act as a barrier and not let urine pass through. These products can also cause staining that can not be removed.
Although this information is informative it is very general and basic, it does provide you with enough information to care for your diapers. If you are looking for additional information on front-loader washing machines, HE washing machines and cloth diapers and diaper rash cream, please visit the Wee Bunz website.
Remember, all of these are suggestions. Other cloth diapering moms have things that work and don't work for them. Sometimes what works for me, won't work for you. Some of it can be trial and error. Please keep in mind that each manufacturer has their own set of recommendations; please be sure that you check the tags!