My initial thoughts when it came to laundering cloth diapers were, “What’s the big deal? I’m already doing laundry; what’s an extra load or two a week. It can’t possibly be too vexing; after all the machine is doing most of the work.” I personally LOVE doing laundry. However, in my early cloth diaper days I discovered a few challenges that almost had me throwing in the proverbial towel.
I read many comments online about not having to rinse soiled diapers of exclusively breastfed (EBF) babies. Just throw the soiled diaper in the pail and it will all come out in the wash. How simple! Now imagine my dismay after the first load of diapers came out looking nearly the same way they went in. YUCK!
I quickly figured out that I wouldn’t be able to get away with not rinsing the diapers before putting them in the pail. Thankfully I purchased the bumGenius Shop and Go Pak from Kelly’s Closet which included the nifty diaper sprayer making rinsing a cinch! This step along drastically improved the cleanliness of my dipes after laundering them.
Unfortunately, I still had issues with the vibrant orange poo juice stains. After a bit of online detective work I discovered the culprit: hard water. But not just ordinary hard water; I’m talking water so hard if measured and ranked on Mohs Hardness Scale it would be as hard as a diamond.
Simply put, hard water has a lot of minerals in it, namely calcium and magnesium. Detergents don’t work as well in hard water because they often work at softening the water instead of cleaning the clothes – so a separate water softener is strongly recommended. After adding a water softener to my detergent I finally achieved the oh-so-clean diapers I had been longing for!
Some common (and not so common) water softeners are Borax (sodium borate), pH UP (sodium carbonate), and Calgon (polycarboxylates). Most pocket diaper manufacturers will recommend/approve the use of Calgon for combating hard water while laundering their products. The aforementioned additives also do wonders for softening hard water which is why you will find both of these elements in many of the “cloth diaper friendly” detergents such as Allen’s Naturally, Country Save, Planet, etc… However, it’s important to keep in mind these elements have been carefully formulated/measured to be effective but not harmful to your clothes and diapers.
If you find that you are having difficulties with your cloth diapers not coming out completely clean – hard water may be the problem! The easiest way to detect hard water is if you notice soap scum in your bathtub or on your shower tiles, and/or calcified deposits (white buildup) on plumbing fixtures (sink/bath faucets) and/or inside your coffee maker or tea kettle.
Here is a photo of the United States with a visual breakdown of concentration of water hardness… I figured this would help you guys visually to pinpoint your area and have an idea on the level of water hardness you may be dealing with:
– By Serena