Whenever I teach my Cloth Diaper 101 classes, I get oodles of questions about laundry. Like, a ton. Like, people who already cloth diaper come to my classes to learn about the laundry. The thing is, it’s really not so hard as people make it out to be. So let’s break it down:
Start with good care:
Wash your diapers every couple of days, and avoid goopy white diaper creams. The traditional creams (Boudreaux, Desitin, A&D) will KILL your cloth diapers and stain them and make them waterproof. Try a cloth-diaper friendly ointment like the GroVia Magic stick or Earth Mama Angel Baby Bottom Balm.
Let’s start with my favorite acronym:
Simple Wash Routine
Stop with the soaking and extra rinses; your diapers just need a wash! (Some areas with hard or well water may need one pre-rinse, but nothing more). Wash on hot with one extra rinse and you are done. DONE.
Use Enough Detergent
Detergent is what gets your diapers clean. Stop skimping because you are afraid of chemicals near your baby’s bum. You know what sucks more than chemicals? Ammonia build-up and stank.
As a side note, I prefer to buy cloth diaper-specific detergent. People have a lot of opinions on what detergent to use, but traditional detergents (yes even free & clear varieties) contain a lot more additives than I prefer to use on my cloth diapers. (See below.)
Make sure your wash cycle is long enough, agitating your diapers well to get the funk out. A heavy duty wash should be long enough.
Skip the additives
Whiteners, brighteners, bleach, etc–skip ’em. Why? You don’t need them, and additives build up in your diapers.
How often do I need to strip?
Ideally, never. In three years of cloth diapering, I have never once had to strip my diapers. I use CD-safe creams and I follow the simple wash rules. Of course, there are a few reasons you might have to give your diapers a more thorough cleaning:
- You used heavy non-CD-safe cream (ahem, see above), and now your diapers are waterproof
- You used additive-laden detergent (ahem, see above), and now your diapers are losing absorbency or smelling/looking weird
- You are dealing with a yeast/thrush problem
But what about Stains and Stink?
If you followed the wash rules above and your diapers are still stained, don’t worry–they are still clean! However, if you are concerned about stains, there is one really great tool to get them out: THE SUN. That’s right, stick them in the sun for an afternoon. Sun will bleach, disinfect and de-stink and it’s FREE.
For stink, it can be a little more complicated. Over time, some diapers do build up some extra funk. To get it out, you usually just need an ammonia bouncer/deep cleaner like Rockin Green’s Funk Rock or GroVia’s Mighty Bubbles detergent. If your water has high mineral content, you may wish to use RLR, but I have never had to use anything other than Mighty Bubbles on my diapers. Generally, I do the special treatment about every 6 weeks or when the diapers start smelling. It’s only one extra wash cycle, and I know it is safe for my cloth diapers. Also, you know what helps with stink? SUN (ahem, see above)!
Go Forth and Clean Better
Hopefully this quick start guide gives you the tools and confidence you need to get started. Honestly, cloth diaper laundry is easy when you keep it simple. Don’t listen to all the chaos–just keep it simple and you will be fine!
Interested in learning more about cloth diapering? Check out the rest of my series: