Thursday, June 25, 2009

Like Tweet

The Day We Wash

One of the most common reactions I get from people when I tell them I use cloth diapers (after "Eew!") is: "Isn't it an awful lot of work? I mean, all that laundry..." The answer is of course no, it's not much work at all. Certainly a lot less "work" than I'd have to do to afford disposables. The wash and care routine did take me a long time to develop though.

When I decided to try cloth diapers I didn't know anyone else who had used them in the past twenty-five years or so. I bought a couple of fitted diapers on a whim one day while I was checking out a local consignment store. I had no idea how to care for them, so I asked the owner of the store and she very helpfully wrote me out some detailed instructions.

Considering the fact that those instructions directed me to fill a wet bucket with cold water and vinegar, rinse diapers by dunking them in the toilet and use the strongest detergent I could find and bleach once a week, it's pretty surprising that I stuck with cloth diapers at all. I knew I wanted to move away from disposables though, so one day it finally occurred to me to type "cloth diapers" into a search engine to see if there were any other options and the world of modern diapering opened before me. There were far better diapers out there than the ones I was using, that's for sure! There were also some handy links for How To Care For Cloth Diapers, but more importantly, there were forums and groups for cloth diapering parents in places like Facebook where you can ask questions and get dozens of suggestions, ideas, answers and opinions. Apparently no one else had a big bucket of stinky diaper stew brewing in their bathroom, how interesting! After months of experimentation I have devised a system for washing cloth diapers that works perfectly for me and my family. I will share it with you now in the hopes that some poor clueless newbie will be able to learn faster than I did:

-In my bathroom, which is within arm's reach of the change table in my daughter's room, I have two cheap plastic trash bins from Wal-Mart with locking lids. I put fitteds, prefolds, inserts, wipes and doublers in the larger one and PUL covers and pockets in the smaller one to prevent them from trapping smells.
-Wet diapers go straight into the pails. Dirty diapers either have disposable liners removed and flushed or they are shaken over the toilet and rinsed under the foot-wash faucet in my shower. I never got around to buying a diaper sprayer, although I'd love one! Sometimes I spray them with BumGenius Odor Remover.
-I don't use pail liners. Every three days I dump both buckets into the washing machine and give them a cold rinse, then a hot wash with a bag of soap nuts or some Purex detergent and sometimes a few drops of tea tree oil, then a rinse.
-Every so often, if my diapers seem a little dingy or smelly, I put a scoop of oxy cleaner in the wash cycle.
-If the pails get smelly I rinse them out with water and a drop of tea tree oil while the diapers are washing.
-When the weather is nice I hang everything out to dry in the sun after running a quick tumble fluff cycle in the dryer to soften them up a little.
-When line drying isn't an option I hang covers, pockets and AIO's on a drying rack overnight and dry everything else in the dryer on medium heat with a few dryer balls.
-I wash my wool covers by hand once every two or three weeks with Eucalan and lay them out to dry.
-When everything is dry I pre-stuff my pockets and sort it all onto the change table shelves.

Basically it works out to two extra loads of laundry a week and maybe twenty minutes of folding and putting away (More if my nineteen month old wants to "help"). It's barely even noticeable since I'm doing laundry for six people anyway. I certainly wouldn't call it an inconvenience, and nothing smells as good as clean laundry hung to dry in the sunlight.


- By EdenSky

28 comments:

Beth E. said...

I just discovered the clothes line about 6 days ago. Boy was I missing out! I took pictures today just because I couldn't handle how excited I was. Now, every other day when I wash, I have them hanging on the line basking in the sunlight. I'm hoping my neighbors don't turn me into the neighborhood association :)

Question, Sometimes I end up with smelly diapers when my little one has soiled a diaper good. She is still nursing so its not possible to dump anything in the toilet. I use allens naturally detergent. I do a cold rinse, a heavy duty wash in hot, followed by an extra rinse. What would some of you suggest I do to cut down on the smell.

Apple said...

"Certainly a lot less "work" than I'd have to do to afford disposables. " This is exactly what I have been telling everyone. Being a Military family, we know cloth diapers are the way to go esp. financially will one of the best choice we have made. Your blog inspires me:)

Upstatemomof3 said...

Yeah I would say about two loads of extra laundry a week. And they are so much more fun!! :)

Shaking said...

I can use my dryer ball? That is great news, I would love to help fluff them and get them circulating in the dryer more frequently. I also like the idea of separating the shells to protect from odor. Thanks for the tips.

Kimberly said...

I, too, love laundry hung in the sun! We have had more than 20 days with almost straight rain (the 2 sunny days I was out of town!) so I miss my sun dried laundry!

Carrie said...

I've just started out using cloth, I really appreciate reading about everyone's wash routines. I'm still pretty clueless there. I love seeing photos of diapers hanging out in the sun to dry, very cute! I would like to do so too, but unfortunately clothes lines are against our HOA. :(

EFalls said...

Beth E. I use BioKleen Bac Out on my soiled diapers. I rinse out each soiled diaper in the bath tub and then spray some Bac Out on them and I haven't had a problem with stinky diapers at all.

Also, it might help if you have really stinky diapers to do an extra hot wash without detergent or maybe through in a little Oxyclean Baby.

EdenSky, I'm curious how many diapers you have. How many do you need in order to only have to do wash every 3 days? That sounds wonderful to me. Currently I'm every other day or every 2 days.

Thrifty Mama B said...

I also do about 2 extra loads a week. I have been wondering about dryer balls. I saw a mom on DS that sells them. I'm glad our days of rain has stopped and we have had a couple days of sunshine in a row!

Jackie said...

That is such a great idea to have 2 garbage bins to keep your PUL items separate. It think I am going to try that - thanks!

GwennS said...

Once again,I love hearing how each person takes care of their diapers. I'm looking into installing a clothes line too..it's so hot here, they would be dry in no time!

Suzy said...

I love learning about different peoples wash cycles. Amazing when we find what works best for us. I what a drying line, but am currently working on trying to do it to were a lab can not touch it. Nothing better than dog licked diapers, right?

Beth E. when my diapers get stinky, I put them in the sink or a tub with a bit of dawn soap and soak them tell they are no longer stinky.

springmeus said...

I really enjoy reading about all the different ways people wash their diapers. Thanks for the informative post!

Tiffany said...

I'm still in the process of figuring out a laundry routine that works best for me, so from one "poor clueless newbie" - thank you for the tips! =)

A Psych Mommy said...

I like the idea of using tea tree oil to clean out my pail--I think I'm going to start doing that!

Slee said...

i love the picture of the clothes line. it always makes me smile to see one.
that said, i'd be lost without my diaper sprayer and dream of the day that i only wash once every three days.
my mother was a big beleiver in the whole vinegar wet bucket when i cloth diapered my DD, it's a miracle we stuck with it for over a year.

Senior Family said...

great post ! i get the eeeww too , it is not too much work at all IMO :) thanks for sharing a great routine that will make it easier for us cd mommas :0)

Valerie aka Mamalovelock said...

Cloth diapering hasn't added any work at all for me and I absolutely love it. I do two maybe three diaper washes a week and I don't even notice since my washer is going everyday anyway. I just moved into a new place and there is no where for me to hang my clothes line, so I bought a drying rack and out on the patio it will go!! :o)

Beth E. said...

EFalls and Suzy, Thank you for your tips! I think I'll give them a try and see what works best for us!

dianna said...

I would agree it only adds two extra loads a week! Great to know about the dryer ball never would have thought of that!

bethy said...

my family and i just recently moved into an apartment. there are three washing machines and four dries in the basement for the three floors of residents to share. anyone have any ideas regarding cleaning my diapers. i dont know if i should wash them in a machine that is supposed to be shared. i researched some washing services but really didnt come up with much (we live just outside of NYC, on long island)i would really hate to give them up.
thanks!!!
beth

Jenney said...

Oh no! I just realized as I read your post that I had hung out my diapers to dry in the sun this afternoon and it is now thunderstorming and they are still on the line *sigh*

hosiewosie said...

I love pictures of clotheslines!

And the way to wash every 3 days is using prefolds! B/c they are cheap!!! :-)

MaryAnne said...

I love the photo of all the diapers etc on the line! I don't feel like cloth diapers add much work at all - I fold them while I watch TV or while talking to my kids, and I love not bringing home huge boxes of diapers every week from the store!

TheClothDiaperWhisperer said...

Hi Bethy,
When you are a sharing a machine I first highly recommending a diaper sprayer and these will remove most of the solids. Washing machines are intended to remove everything so washing in a shared machine shouldn't be a problem.

Molly said...

I have never heard of soap nuts - where do you get yours? Also, do you use a front-load washer or a standard top-loading washer? I use a HE front-loader and it's been tricky finding what works best for my cloth dipes!

Kelly said...

Don't you just love seeing cloth diapers out on the cloth line. It just gives me the warm and fuzzies each time I have the chance to line dry my dipes!

Stacy Whalen said...

Beautiful picture of your stash out on the line! Mine get a little crunchy out there!

kim0218 said...

The more I read...the more I am sold on cloth diapering!! Thank you! Obviously it doesn't take much time to wash...you have time to write a wonderful review of diapering!!! THANK YOU!!