Saturday, December 29, 2012

Cloth Diapering: A Beginners Guide-Washing & Drying

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Now you've chosen the detergent, you've sprayed off your diapers(if poopy) and you're ready to wash. Most people wash their dipes every 2 to 3 days. They say to keep the load under 18 diapers, however I think you want over 12 so that they have enough items to agitate against. I take my wet bag to my laundry room. If you choose a pail, just take out the liner or bring the whole pail. Depending on if you separated your pieces previously either empty your diapers in the washer or separate then toss in.

Before I tell you my routine, please realize that there isn't a right or wrong way to do this either-catching the trend yet? Here's what I do:

1. Cold Rinse on LARGE setting. My washer doesn't have anything that specifically says rinse, but it's about halfway through the wash-and there is a little dot, so I assume that's the rinse. It's worked well so far. I put it on the LARGE setting to get a good amount of water in there. You don't want too much or too little. I figure LARGE is a good setting. I do not use detergent on this rinse. The cold water rinse breaks down waste and doesn't leave stains. Hot water will cause stains if there is still waste on your diapers.
2. Hot wash/warm rinse cycle. Hot water kills bacteria. You want to try to get your water temperature around 100 degrees. I turn my water heater up about an hour before I wash. Over 120 degrees can deteriorate your diapers quicker. You want to use detergent on this cycle. For Country Save it seems most people use 1 TB for hard water and 1 Teaspoon for soft water (this isn't directional-just the average I've seen in forums). Remember to measure correctly so you can adjust as necessary.
3. Warm rinse on LARGE setting. Again, I move the dial to the little rinse dot. I only have a warm rinse, if I had HOT I would do hot. This will get out any remaining detergent, and I also want any remaining bacteria killed.

A few notes to confuse you more:
1. Most detergent doesn't kill bacteria very well. Hot water does. From the little I've read, water needs to be above 140 degrees to kill all bacteria. Well over 120 can reduce the lifespan of your diapers and I know some diaper manufactures like Cotton Babies set the limit at 100 degrees or it will void your warranty, so we have a problem here. This is why I use Bac-Out on my diapers after spraying them-to kill bacteria.
2. Your wash routine will need to adjust to you preference. If you notice detergent staying on the diapers, add another rinse or reduce/change your detergent. If you notice the diapers are smelly or not getting clean increase your detergent. You can also change the first rinse to HOT water if you need more cleaning power or even add a little detergent to your first rinse. Some people wash twice.
3. The first few washes, try to peek into the washer at different times to see how the detergent looks. If there is still soap after your final rinse, you know to either decrease your detergent or add another rinse. If there isn't soap after your second rinse. You know you can skip the third rinse.
4. This routine can effect your baby too. If there is too much buildup or chemicals left on the diaper it can cause rashes or even burns. If the pee doesn't rinse out it can cause ammonia burns. Don't let this freak you out as it did me, but just keep this in mind. You want a clean rinsed diaper.
5. Confused about your amount of water? Filling your washer up about half full should do the trick. You want enough water to let the diapers agitate well, but you don't want too they still agitate well. Rubbing against each other really helps them get clean.
6. My laundry room is downstairs. Really long and steep stairs. I can't hear the beep when it's done. I was first confused and thought everyone could customize their washer to do all these steps automatically. Perhaps they can (people with new fancy washers). I on the other hand have an old washer. All 3 steps I have to manually start. I've timed each cycle and now set a timer on my stove to remind me when to check the wash. Looking at the bright side, I'm getting good exercise going up and down at least 5 times per diaper load.

Now that I most likely confused you more-start out simple. Cold rinse, hot wash with detergent, cold or hot rinse. Then move to hotter water and more detergents, rinses, washes if necessary.

Drying is hopefully much simpler. I hang dry everything. I bought a line and clothes pins from the dollar store ($2 investment-yay!) I also use these for my Christmas Cards so even better deal! I originally hung dry the covers and AIO's and threw the inserts and diapers in the dryer-but now I just find it easier to hang dry it all. It saves on power and they all get done at the same time. For those of you like me that want more information, here's some info behind drying.

Don't dry anything with PUL or waterproofing materials. Those can get ruined in a heat dryer. Check your manufacturer to be sure-but from what I've found hang drying is your best option. For anything you want to throw in the dryer, don't use dryer sheets. Those can add build up VERY QUICK to your diapers. Just stay away.

I've actually switched completely from dryer sheets to wool dryer balls before I started cloth diapering. These will help reduce dryer time, decrease static, and soften. If your interested in dryer balls my friend from The Graceful Mom makes some awesome ones! They're a lot larger than some others I've bought. Visit her Etsy store here.

Again, my laundry room is in our murky basement. It usually takes about 24 hours for our diapers to hang dry. Our wet bag takes the longest (which is why 2 wet bags is a great idea!).

The only downside of hang drying is the inserts and prefolds seems to be a little more stiff. If you want them softened, toss them in the dryer for 20 minutes or so and they should be good!

Next: Laundry Additives

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