Welcome to my first Fluff Friday, where I’ll be sharing my reviews and experiences with cloth diapering Lil’ Ziggy!
To start things off, I’m going to talk to you about my washing routine for cloth diapers. It’s really not as hard, time consuming or… gross… as some people think! I’ve found a routine that works for me after doing lots of research on other cloth diapering websites. Some routines are over-the-top complicated and I just don’t have the energy for that. With this routine, I don’t have to overthink anything, and my diapers come out nice and clean, ready for their next mess!
But first, a note about poop
A big reason that people shy away from cloth diapers is “the poop”. Touching poop, seeing poop, washing poop. I just want to bust a few of the myths that are still prevalent online.
First, I’ve had more giant messes to clean up with disposable diapers than with cloth. With ‘sposies, up-the-back blowouts were a near-daily thing. With cloth, I haven’t had a poop leak in weeks.
Second, whether you’re in cloth or disposables, you will likely have to touch poop at least a couple of times a day. Unless you change your baby’s diaper using a robot, you’re gonna have to get a little hands-on to wipe them. If your baby is exclusively breastfed (EBF), you do the exact same thing with cloth as you do with disposables: You fold up the dirty diaper and toss it in your preferred storage method. With non-EBF poop, you have an extra step in spraying or dunking diapers to get the solids off, which leads me to my next point.
Poop is not meant to go to the landfill. It’s raw, untreated sewage and it can mean big environmental issues in landfills. We all know what can happen when a landfill has runoff or leeches into the surrounding waterways. Technically, ‘sposie users are supposed to shake solids into the toilet as well before throwing in the garbage, but nobody actually does that. It kind of eliminates the convenience factor of disposables. With cloth, solid poop is flushed down the toilet and EBF poop is water-soluble, so it all gets washed away and sent to the water treatment plant. A lot less impact on the environment and our health.
If you’ve ever been on a forum discussing cloth diapers, you probably know that detergent is a super hot topic. Which brands work with cloth diapers? What happens if you use the wrong brand? How much do you use?
And you’ll have different answers depending on who is answering. Only use detergent recommended on your diaper manufacturer website. You can use store bought brands. Using store bought brands will cause repelling. Use more than the recommended amount of store bought detergent. Use 1/3 of the recommended amount of store bought detergent. Use 1/3 of the amount of cloth diaper-safe detergent. Use the full amount of the cloth diaper-safe detergent. See?!
With helpful advice overload, I decided to go to my local cloth diaper boutique and ask the lady at the counter what SHE uses. And she recommended Country Save detergent, which is comparable in price to the common store bought brands up here. It’s dye and fragrance-free, and I use the amount recommended on the box. I haven’t had any stink or repelling issues at all in the two months that I’ve been using it.
So don’t worry too much about buying detergent from cloth diaper manufacturers, or expensive “specialty” detergents. Many of them are little more than homemade laundry soap, and often lead to more issues that require the dreaded “stripping”. Pretty much anything other than “fancy” detergents will do the job.
I’ve referred to the Diaper Jungle Detergent Chart many times during my research, which helped confirm my choice to use Country Save. Check it out and see if the detergent you use is safe for cloth diapers.
When Lil’ Ziggy gets a diaper change, I take off the dirty diaper and remove the insert if necessary. A couple of my pocket diapers are designed so that the inserts agitate out in the wash by themselves, and I have a few All-In-Ones that don’t require unstuffing.
If the diaper uses velcro to close, I make sure to use the laundry tabs on the inside of the diaper. This prevents the diapers from catching on other things in the wash, creating a chain of laundry that I have to rip apart.
Then, I simply toss the inserts and diaper shells or covers into a waterproof laundry bag, along with any cloth wipes I used. You can put your laundry bag inside a garbage pail with a lid if you want, but I just hang mine on my drying rack. I’ve never had a problem with smells coming from the bag.
I do one load of cloth diaper laundry every other day. I have let it go for an extra day before with no issues, but my laundry bag is usually full by the second day.
On laundry day, I take the laundry bag to the machine (I have a top-loader) and start shaking the diapers into the basin. Once empty, I turn the bag inside out and toss it right in with the diapers.
I make sure the diapers are distributed evenly throughout the basin, and turn the dial to “Pre-Wash”. I usually do this on hot but have had no problems doing it on cold.
After the pre-wash cycle, I turn the dial to Normal-Heavy and do that cycle on hot. It will automatically do a cold rinse.
Once that cycle is finished, I do another cold rinse.
I sort my cloth diapers by inserts and covers/shells. The inserts, liners and wipes go into the dryer, and I hang the shells to air-dry overnight. The reason for this is that I’m trying to prolong the life of the shells. You can certainly toss them into the dryer as well, but you may see more wear and tear over time. The inserts are dried on low.
Once everything is dry, I re-stuff diapers that require it, then put it all away. And it’s done!
To recap the washing process:
- One pre-wash cycle on hot.
- One normal-heavy cycle on hot.
- One rinse on cold.
- Dry inserts, wipes and liners on low; Air-dry shells.
When I visit my mom and dad, I have the opportunity to hang all my diapers outside, which takes less energy than machine drying, plus they have the benefit of getting sun-bleached. In my condo, I hang my shells in front of the window and it does the same thing, I just have to do it first thing I the morning as my windows only face east.
Tips and general information:
Cloth diaper laundry takes a bit of trial and error sometimes. Depending on your machine, water hardness or softness, and the kind of detergent you use, you may have to play around with the cycles and amount of detergent you use. In general, high-efficiency front loader machines use less water and require less soap. You may have to fiddle with your routine if you use a front loader. For example, when I stayed with Chris’ parents last week, I used a front loader and they also use a water softener. Knowing that cloth diapers love lots of water and an appropriate amount of detergent to get clean, I used the following routine:
- Rinse and spin cycle
- Heavy duty cycle with an extra wash and an extra rinse.
- Dry as usual.
And I used about a third of a scoop of Country Save for the front loader, as opposed to a full or 2/3 full scoop with my top loader. It may have been more soap than needed, but I hoped that the extra wash and rinse would get it all out. The lack of barnyard or ammonia smells lead me to believe that I did indeed wash them adequately. The one annoying thing about this method though, is that it took two hours to wash my diapers! Top loaders, while not as “energy efficient”, get the job done in about 45 minutes.
Do not use dryer sheets with cloth diapers! Same with fabric softener, the stuff on dryer sheets can cling to the fabric and cause issues with absorbency and leaking. I have three wool dryer balls that are great for fluffing up diapers in the wash, and they even cut down on drying time. I use them with all my laundry now.
I so far haven’t experienced issues with using other people’s machines and transferring buildup from machines onto my diapers. Some people say that putting diapers in a machine that usually contains the “bad” detergent can cause absorbency issues, but I haven’t found that to be true for me yet.
I think that is pretty much it! Thanks so much for reading this lengthy post. Feel free to ask me any questions about cloth diaper laundry in the comments.
And some questions for you:
- If you use cloth, what is your wash routine?
- What have you found that works for you or doesn’t?
- What is your favourite part of doing cloth diaper laundry? (Because hey, we gotta find some positives about our neverending chore!)
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