Thursday, March 26, 2009

Part 3: How to Care for your Cloth Diapers

Hmmm it's been a while. So much for my once a week goal!

After all of the cloth diaper information on what to consider, now on to how to care for it and accessories needed!

First up, all detergents are not created equal. Cloth diapers must be absorbant, or you will have a wet mess. Most detergents over time leave a build-up on the cloth, creating a not so great barrier to moisture. (Think, the Mississippi on a half pipe with nothing holding it back- eee!) The biggest rule of thumb to follow is choose something fragrance and dye free. Personally I tend to use Planet or Purex Free and Clear. Some use Charlie's. Do not not use the Baby Drefts. Here is an awesome chart of the different soaps ranked by the star system:

Also, less is more. You do not need to use a full scoop of detergent. I probably average 1/3 or so.
I am also a big fan of oxyclean. Some people complain of their diapers being smelly. Mine have only been once- when I ran out of oxyclean. Some people say not to use this as it is hard on your diapers, I personally have not had any trouble with it and we've been at it for... almost 20 months.

Fabric softeners are another no-no. (Unless you use Ecover fabric softener, that's the only one I'm aware of that doesn't build up like traditional softeners) Some choose to use fabric balls, too.
For stains? Sun them! Seriously, it works wonders. You can also try soaking in oxyclean overnight.

My care routine:
Wet- into the wet bag until wash day
Dirty- into the wet pail in the basement safely away from baby until wash day. I do not spray but if some will easily fall off into the toilet, do that.

Dirty first- rinse cycle in cold. If they're bad, put through a quick wash on cold with just detergent and oxyclean.
Then add in your wet diapers. Around 10-12 a load is all you want to do. Quick wash cycle again with detergent and oxyclean on Hot. If available, next use your sanitization cycle or just wash on Hot and Heavy dirt. This time also add in a cap of Ecover fabric softener if you are going to use it.

And that's it! Please note, this works for me. It might not work for you due to different water qualities and washer options. In general, rinse, light wash, heavy wash. That should do it. From here you can hang or throw in the dryer on medium heat.

**If you notice your diapers repelling water, they need to be stripped and your care routine reviewed. You may be using a bad detergent or just too much detergent. To strip diapers, simply wash on hot 3 times with no soap or until you don't see soap bubbles in the water as they are washing. Some add a teaspoon of dawn, too(I have never done this).


--There are a ton of things you can buy. But what do you need? Sprays to take the stink out of the diaper? Eh, not necessary. But sometimes nice if you are out and would have to carry the wetbag around with you.
--Fancy 'diaper pail'? Nope. Don't waste your money, just get a regular trash can with a lid. Or better yet, skip the pail and use hanging bags. They work much better and don't smell. The only 'pail' I use is an empty kitty litter bucket next to the utility sink in the basement- dirty diapers soak in water until they can be washed.
--Wetbags? Definitely. All sizes. I like small ones for quick trips, medium for longer and large for at home in place of my 'pail'. We probably have 6 or 7 now. The zipper ones are the best for trips- the drawstring for home.
--Cloth wipes? Go for it if you can. We never got into it. Just couldn't seem to get into the crevices that well. I will try again for future babes and see about finding the right type of cloth for us, but in the meantime I just put the disposable wipes through the wash with the dirty diapers. Yep. They don't shred, they just come out clean! Sounds silly but easier than figuring out where to put the dirty wipe while dealing with a wiggly kid close to a poopy diaper. Need I say more?
--Snappis? If you are using prefolds, yep. Easier than pins.
--Babylegs? I love them. We have a large collection. Mostly for looks rather than function though!
--Diaper Liners? Probably a good idea. The flushable ones work great for people that would rather put as much dirty in the toilet as possible and keep it off the diaper. They have thin fleece ones that work awesome, too. Those you obviously wash, but at least the mess is kept off the diaper. They are also necessary when using diaper rash cremes. You DO NOT want to use a regluar creme with cloth. It will ruin your diaper by both staining them and stopping all absorption. There are cremes out there for cloth diapers if needed. Or just go to disposables for a day or two.

That's about all I can think of at the moment. If anyone has any questions, I'm always willing to help. Cloth can be tricky at first but really, it is a lot of fun. I know it lessens our impact on the environment in a huge way, can help save money and is healthier for our babies.

Next post, moving on from diapers to... whatever moves me! Or is next on the list. I'm the master of suspense.


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