Saturday, November 8, 2008

Washing Cloth Diapers

When I first started using cloth diapers I probably read around 20 different methods that worked for different families. Almost all of them used a top-loading washing machine. Mine is a front-loader. I did find a few mentions of washing diapers in a front-loader and all were negative. I even read where some families buy a top-loader just for diapers if they already have a front-loader. I had neither the money nor the space for that, but I had already committed to cloth. I'm happy to say that it has been six months and I have an infant and a toddler in clean cloth diapers. If you are considering cloth, please don't let your washing machine stop you! Here is the system that works for us:

We have one large pail liner, but no pail. The bag just hangs off the side of the changing table with the bottom resting on the floor. If I change a diaper while the diapers are in the washer I have to set it aside for an hour. It doesn't bother me and I don't have a second bag sitting on the shelf to use for the one hour every other day that ours is being washed. The bag is for wet diapers and breast milk-only poop diapers. In the bathroom I have a diaper sprayer attached to the toilet and a kids beach bucket right beside it. Diapers with "real" poop are sprayed and put in the bucket until wash time.

When it is time to wash I dump the bucket in the washer. The bucket works well because I can reach in the washer with the whole thing and then dump it out, I don't have to touch the diapers. Then I take the pail liner and push the diapers out from the bottom, turning the bag inside out as I go and leave it in the washer. I run a rinse and spin cycle first, followed by the towel cycle (hot wash, high spin, heavy soil, extra rinse). My detergent is plain Tide powder (for HE machines) and I use a little less than half of the amount called for for a regular size load. Once a week or so I also put a cup of white vinegar in the fabric softener dispenser.

All of my covers, fleece liners, wipes, and pail liner go in the dryer on high for about 20 minutes and I hang the diapers. I do toss the diapers in the dryer the next day for about 20 minutes to soften up. No fabric softener on any of it, ever!

Most methods I read suggested washing no more than 12 diapers at a time. My front-loader holds bigger loads than a top-loader so I figured that would go for diapers too. I usually wash about 18 diapers at a time, but I have washed up to 22 with decent results.

If you're thinking about cloth, you may also want to check out how I make my wipes solution.

NOTE: When I originally posted this I left out the info on which wash cycle I use, now I think it's complete!

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