Sunday, November 8, 2009

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Can Cloth Diaper Laundry Be Simple?

I would have to say the most intimidating aspect of cloth diapering for me was the laundry routine. I assumed if I thoroughly researched, read the reviews and listened to the expert advice I would find one simple, straightforward routine that would suit my needs perfectly. Yeah, okay, didn’t quite happen that way. Have you seen the information out there? It’s overwhelming, painfully detailed and sometimes contradictory.

I prefer simplicity so I took the most basic instructions I could find and started from there. The first couple of weeks were deceptively easy. I didn’t have any stink issues and my diapers were beautifully clean and fluffy. After a while, however, I started to get deep in the trenches of cloth diaper laundry. The inserts lost their fluffy whiteness and the pocket diapers got some build-up. My daughter was also growing and changing. Her diet evolved and her (eh-hem) output increased, especially overnight. My easy, perfect laundry system took some hits during this time and I had to do some trial and error to come up with my solutions.

I have also tried three different detergents at this point and feel confident, no, EXTREMELY confident that I have THE ONE! The first brand I used to wash my diapers was Charlie’s Soap. In the beginning I was very happy with the results, but after a while I noticed that my diapers were retaining some smell, even after many rinses. I then tried Planet liquid because it was available locally. It seemed to clean the diapers well, but I started to experience some build-up. I’m not sure if it was the Planet or something else, but I decided to switch. I will say, however, that I really like using Planet for the rest of the family’s laundry. After hearing great things about Rockin’ Green I gave it a try and I have been so happy with the results. My diapers come out smelling like…well…nothing! Fresh, clean nothingness.

Keeping it as simple as possible, the following is the cloth diaper laundry routine I use with my front loader:
  1. Cold Water Rinse (no detergent)-I use the “Rinse and Spin” cycle which will only allow a cold water rinse. If I haven’t rinsed all of my diapers after each diaper change I will do a “Quickwash” cycle as my rinse, which is 15 minutes longer and uses a bit more water.
  2. Hot Water Wash-I use the hottest setting with 2 Tablespoons of Rockin’ Green
  3. Rinse- Again I will do the “Rinse and Spin” cycle, but if I feel it was a particularly smelly or dirty load I will use the “Quickwash” cycle because it runs a little longer and I have the option of using warm or hot water.
  4. Dry-I will dry everything outside on my clothesline or in my dryer on a timed cycle (medium heat) for about 60-80 minutes. Depending on the load size and contents there are times when my bumGenius Organic all-in-ones won’t be completely dry after this cycle so I just take them out and hang them over my dryer to air dry the rest of the way.
Tips and Tricks I have learned along the way:
  • Because my front loader adjusts the water level according to weight I will either throw a wet towel in with my diapers or I will rinse the inserts without ringing them out prior to washing to increase the weight.
  • I use the low spin option during my initial cold water rinse for the same reason as above. By not spinning all of the moisture out of the diapers it makes my washing load a little heavier and the machine adds a bit more water.
  • I almost always rinse my inserts after diaper changes. It’s not necessary, but it definitely helps prevent any strong odors on the diapers and in the diaper pail.
  • I have 2 open plastic bins, one for my bathroom and one for my daughter’s room, to store dirty diapers. I find that keeping the diapers open to the air actually cuts down on smell (trust me, my mother would tell me if the diapers were starting to smell). I also like that I can quickly wipe the bins out after I toss everything in the wash and use them to cart my diapers out to the clothesline or to another room so I can stuff them.
--By Jennifer G.

Note: Kelly’s Closet recommends, for best results, to wash your diapers every other day. Wash the diapers on a short cycle cold wash with detergent, followed by a long cycle hot wash with detergent, and 1 additional rinse. Having troubles with funky smelling diapers? Check out our previous blog posts on stinky diapers!

22 comments:

Attila & Tamara said...

Thanks for sharing your simple and clear laundry routine. I would love to try Rockin' Green. I've heard so many great things about it!
We've only been CDing for a few weeks and I'm getting nervous about the stinkies coming. So far, so good, but we'll see!

Evelyn said...

Thank you for posting this! I do not have a front loader, but I do wash my diapers in one when I visit my mother, and I had noticed that they came out smelling like pee. I'll try this method next time I visit!

Angela said...

I love Rockin' Green too. It is great and most times I just have to do a Cold cycle wash then a hot/cold cycle wash with 3T of Rockin' Green. I have an old top loader so we need a little more. Also to soak with some Rockin' Green works wonders when you do have stink issues. I either soak them in the tub or sink with hot water over night. My washer does not have a soak setting.

Secret Mommy said...

I agree with simplicity. I wash my dipes much like you do, with a cold water rinse (though I run a full cycle, just on cold water and use a little detergent) then a "sanitary" hot cycle with detergent, then an additional hot water rinse. When my dipes start to get a build-up or smell, I run 1 to 3 additional hot water rinses with no additives, soap or anything else and it gets them sparkly clean and white! I've used Allen's Naturally since I started cloth diapering and I just LOVE it! For the rest of our family's laundry, I use Biokleen laundry liquid, which I think is a superb cleaner.

Arizona Girl said...

This is similar to my routine. Except I still haven't found the perfect detergent. I want to try the Rockn' Green. I just haven't had the money to invest in it yet, after all I have a whole cupboard full of detergents that I bought that don't work. Keep it up I love hearing your thoughts and experiments.

Jenney said...

That cold rinse cycle is a must! I totally agree. Good to know you've had good experience with a front loader, I"ve heard otherwise and have been scared to buy one.

tjandjmkahrs said...

I love the Rockn' Green Soap, I use it here at home. Plans are to use it for the cloth diaper service my sister and I have as well. Really great stuff!

Megan said...

I love Rockin Green too. I'll never go back to anything else.

Big Mama said...

I learned something new today... I thought you were supposed to do the extra rince in hot as well!!! and I just use normal laundry soap for the diapers.. do I really need to buy something special???

Anonymous said...

Is that supposed to be "cold cycle without detergent followed by a hot cycle with detergent"? I can't imagine you'd want detergent in the rinse AND the wash cycle?

ONCE upon a time.... said...

I totally hear you on being overwhelmed by all the information out there! I started with ONLY bumGenius 3.0 over a year ago and am just now branching out to Kiwipie, Smartipants, and Rumparooz. I'm getting up the nerve to try prefolds too! I was surprised to read that you rinse the inserts--I, too, am having issues with stinky pails, and did not think to rinse the inserts, but that will probably make a big difference! Thank you for your insight!

Pumpkin Bear said...

Thanks for this post. I am new to cloth diapering and I have been adding Planet detergent to the pre-wash and the regular wash. I think I have been using too much! I was on the lookout for a new detergent anyway, so I may give Rockin' Green a try (I keep hearing good things about it).

newmami_rgv said...

Yup... washing is simple. I use Rockin' Green as well, cherry almond!

hosiewosie said...

ok I'm trying rockin green when we run out of charlie's

rocketgurl said...

This is a great post! My hubby and I were talking about cloth diapering and he is so turned off by the idea and kept asking what would we do with the dirty diapers and says he "refuse to have a house that smells like stinky poop! If that's what you want to do, then FINE! That is allll you. I will NOT be changing any diapers!" LOL.. I know he's serious too!

So, I definitely need to learn from such posts to have a good idea of what to expect and how to prepare to cloth diaper and making laundry simple and yet effective. Hubby also talked of stains!!

Lexi said...

I'm a fan for keeping it simple, when I first started looking into cloth I was so overwhelmed by all the different washing steps. It was nuts!

Cloth Diaperer Extraordinaire said...

Big Mama: Actually warm water rinses work best at removing residues. Not every machine offers a warm water rinse, however, if it's an option on your machine I'd recommend using it!

As for the detergent - yes, we definitely recommend using a "cloth diaper friendly detergent." Commercial detergents have several ingredients which can cause excess wear and tear on the diapers as well as leave residues which coat the diapers and make them repel.

Joshua and Stephanie said...

This is very helpful as I'm about to start cloth diapering...

aysha said...

when i started cd my son, i had no clue on how to wash them! i used fabric softener, any old detergent, and even used softener sheets in the dryer! no wonder they would wick after every pee! I always just thought they were the types of diapers i had invested in! (happy heineys and starbunz)...this time around, im expecting in a month, i already invested in 9 fuzzibunz, 6 bumgen, and 6 medium gdiapers. i hope that all will work out well for me, but i needed this detergent and laundry advice! i have researched a lot more this time around, as i plan on cd from age 3 months and on, instead of after age 1.5 like i did with DS!
thanks for all the advice! im new to this site and am loving it!

Emily said...

I love reading everyone's info on cleaning cloth diapers. I'm a big fan of Dr. Bronner's soap.

Crystal said...

This is great info! I have a top loader but a front loading HE machine is on my wish list! The idea about adding a towel is great! I use Charlie's and like it fine, but I think I'll try Rockin' Green the next time. I love that it comes in scents! Charlie's cleans my diapers well, but sometimes I still get build up because of our hard water. When this happens I've been doing a couple hot wash cycles without any soap or additives after my regular wash cycle, and this seems to work.

Crystal

aboverubies15 at yahoo dot com

Melessa said...

I have an He Cabrio. I wash once on the Dark/Color cycle with no spin to add more water. Then I switch to the Heavy Duty cycle and add the pre-soak, deep clean, and extra rinse options. I use 1/8 c. of Charlie's in each wash because we have hard water. Otherwise, I would only use it for the 2nd wash. So far, so good...