Thursday, October 4, 2012

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Washing in Cold (and other cloth laundry experiments)

Let’s be honest – using cloth diapers brings out the adventurous side in people. Had you never taken that first leap, despite the naysayers, you itty-bitty kiddo wouldn’t be wearing fluff today. With the myriad of choices available in the cloth diapering world today, there is something thrilling about building up a stash, measuring up the different options against each other and experimenting on what works best for your family.

There is someplace where even the bravest of cloth diapering adventurers quake in their boots, however: the laundry. When finally, after a few tweaks to the system, we manage to find a laundry routine which gets those adorable diapers squeaky clean, we are loath to “mess things up” by trying anything new.

For me, this has changed – and it all began with cold water.

Where I grew up, it is actually pretty common to wash everything in cold water. The hot water in a washing machine is generally not hot enough anyway to kill germs, and cold water is just as effective at cleaning dirt. It is also much cheaper to wash with cold water. When it came to my diapers, though, I initially stuck pretty staunchly to the washing recommendation to “rinse cold/wash hot”.

Examining the care instructions for my bumGenius pocket diapers one day, though, I noticed that they are recommended to not be washed at temperatures above 100 ̊F. Higher than this, and the PUL might be damaged. I was pretty surprised by this, as 100 ̊F is really only warm water, not hot, and certainly not hot enough to disinfect.

And so, I decided to experiment. I washed my diapers on cold.

You know what? They came out as fresh smelling and clean looking as always. I line dry everything, including my diapers, and trusted that the sun’s UV rays would give a finishing, germ-blasting touch to my diaper-cleaning process.

I decided to put on my big girl panties (they are the next step up from cloth trainers) to continue my test for a couple of weeks just to observe how effective washing on cold really was. Eventually, they did start to smell the slightest bit musty, but this may have been due to the fact they were almost due for another monthly dose of bleach (which is also recommended). I ended up reverting back to my warm-washing routine (as I feel it may perhaps still help the laundry detergent work a bit better), with the occasional cold water wash thrown in every couple of days. It saves me a bit of cash, is better for the environment, and works for me!

Here’s what I’ve learned in the end. First off, whilst washing in cold might not be for everyone, I don’t think it is worth not using cloth diapers just because hot water might not be readily available. So, if I head to family for the holidays, or on a camping trip with the kids, I’m not so bothered with the idea of the odd cold water wash if that is more convenient. I can easily throw them in for a good warm clean when I get home again.

More importantly, though, I’ve been reminded that being willing to mix things up a bit is half the fun on this cloth diapering journey. I hope I haven’t come all this way just to lose the trend-bucking, adventurous spirit which led me here in the first place. So, if it means playing with my laundry routine a bit, trying out a new laundry detergent or experiencing a different diapering system than I am used to, all just for the thrill of the adventure, I am game.

Let the experimentation begin!

Bio: Belinda Lamprecht currently lives in Africa with her husband, working for an international missions agency and raising her two kiddos, one who joined the family through adoption and one…ahem…the old-fashioned way. You can read more about their experiences at www.reaboka.wordpress.com

3 comments:

Renea P. said...

I have never ever washed my diapers in Hot or even warm water, I always wash in cold lol :) It's never really occured to me since I wash everything else in cold. In all honesty though, I don't ever look at the recommended wash instructions, usually just the drying guidelines :) most of my diapers are preowned so they don't have a warranty.

Brittany @ The Pistachio Project said...

I always wash my laundry (cloth diapers and regular) in cold water. Although I do notice that as I've switched to soap nuts (previously I was using Biokleen's all temp detergent) that if I'm using a ton of coconut oil for diaper cream then I have to wash in hot to get the coconut oil (as soap nuts aren't good at removing oil in cold temps) But otherwise I love washing in cold!

Jelli said...

I don't have hot water for my washing machine here in Costa Rica either, and it doesn't make any impact in washing the diapers. I have traveled with cloth a few times with access to hot water, and even when using it the results seem the same. I agree, not big deal if hot water isn't available.