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Monday, August 24, 2009

No frills, no fuss, a SIMPLE cloth wash routine!

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This post is part of the Cloth Diaper Blog Carnival! The topic of this carnival is, "what is your wash routine".

When people find out that T wears cloth diapers they often look at me like I have three heads. They then follow up with, "isn't that a lot of work?". I'm not gonna lie, when I first began contemplating the idea of cloth diapering I was pretty overwhelmed with the vast amount of information all over the internet. At first it did seem to me like it was going to be a lot of work. There were so many diapers to choose from, how would I know which was the right choice for our family? In reality, deciding what diapers to use was actually a piece of cake compared to figuring out how to wash the diapers (or so I thought)! I was so intimidated with the various wash routines I found recommended online. Many of the routines seemed so complicated and time consuming. I knew that I would never stick to cloth diapering without a super simple routine. Simplicity became my mantra. I found that cloth diapering doesn't have to be overwhelming and time consuming. It can be as easy as using a disposable! Here is my simple, no frills, no fuss routine...

1. COLD rinse cycle with NO detergent

2. HOT wash cycle with detergent (I use Tiny Bubbles detergent), one scoop in a HE front loading washer and two scoops in a top loader.

3. Additional cold rinse cycle No detergent

4. SUN, SUN, SUN, on sunny days I dry all my diapers in the sun and then fluff them in the dryer on a 20 minute setting. The sun acts as a natural bleaching agent, kills bacteria, and leaves the diapers smelling fresh. In the winter I do one dryer cycle and then finish drying the diapers overnight on the radiators.

Once I had conquered the laundry routine I thought everything would be smooth sailing... Until my diapers started to have an awful stank. Ugh, now my diapers needed to be stripped and the stripping techniques I read about were even more daunting than the laundry methods I first encountered. In the past year I have had to strip my diapers once. Which, I think is pretty good since I have read that many people have to strip their cloth diapers every month or so. In my search for the simplest method to strip I found that the main reason for needing to strip diapers is due to detergent build up. It doesn't make much sense to strip diapers with detergent when the issue is due to detergent. Therefore I found that rinsing, and rinsing, and rinsing with NO detergent in HOT water pretty much did the job. I also added 1/2 cup of white vinegar to the rinse cycle of the final wash (followed by one additional rinse). The vinegar helps to:
  • neutralize the urine in cloth diapers
  • equalize the pH balance
  • eliminate soap residue
  • deters the setting in of stains
  • can help keep colors from bleeding
  • acts as a natural fabric softener
I believe that the reason I needed to strip my diapers was due to a build up of detergent. When I first began cloth diapering I used detergent in both my first and second wash cycles (I was also using a different detergent). I was just using too much soap. It's funny how using too much detergent can cause diaper stank. One would think that more detergent would lead to fresher smelling diapers, boy is that wrong! Since I have changed my routine, I have not had an issue with build up or with stinky diapers.

And there ya have it, that's it. That's my simple wash routine. There are no frills, no fuss, and it gets the job done! I don't think it can get much simpler than that, and if it can PLEASE comment and let us know how!

Click the link below to find other blogs in the cloth diaper carnival and read about their laundry routines!

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  1. It's crazy how the more soap you use, the harder you make it on yourself. Simpler is always better! And the sun is the best thing in the world - it's amazing how w/ so much poop that goes in our diapers, we have no stains - I never would have thought that before actually diving into cloth last year!

  2. I use vinegar, too! I put it in every wash and it really helps with the stinkies. It also makes the dipes softer. I do pretty much the same wash you do, so I don't have much to offer in shortening it. The one thing I did start doing was just to set it to "small" load for the first rinse. Everything else, I set to "large" because it's been said that the more water the better. But I figured that didn't matter so much on just the rinse. What do you think of Tiny Bubbles? I'm using Allen's right now and was thinking of giving Tiny Bubbles a try.

  3. Sounds like my wash routine! But I haven't had to use vinegar yet. Ever since switching from Charlie's Soap to Tide I haven't had a stinky dipe. But if it I I will know what to try!

  4. Sarah - I love the Tiny Bubbles! I was using biokleen prior because I had read that it was an approved detergent. BUT, then I read someplace that it shouldn't be used. I am so happy since I switched to Tiny Bubbles. I have no diaper stink and the diapers really seem so much cleaner now! It also helps that I only use detergent in one wash cycle now! Have you found any problems with using the vinegar in every cycle?

  5. I've been using vinegar for a few months now and haven't seen any problems. I just add a couple of cups (I never actually measure it! lol) in every wash cycle. I was having some stink issues, not horrible but annoying enough that I wanted to do something about them. So I started adding vinegar to every wash and it seems to have helped. Sometimes I will do a small load setting with about 4 cups of vinegar and detergent and just let it sit for a few hours. That really seems to help the stinkies. I'm not crazy about the Allens but it is working fairly well for me. That's why I'm a little hesitant to try something new. But Tiny Bubbles seems so affordable and I'd really rather have a powder than a liquid. I think I might just give it a try!

  6. I'm using County Save detergent and would be cautious of using any detergents that are not listed on the Cotton Babies site: http://www.cottonbabies.com/clothdiaperdetergents.pdf. This includes Tide, as it can quicky wear down the diapers and cuase irritation to baby's skin (also, I fear it could impart toxins to the baby - maybe I'm paranoid?)

    I have a front loader.

    1) 1/8 scoop County Save powder in cold was speed cycle with extra rinse and "water plus" - takes 29 minutes

    2) No detergent, hot wash (after ensuring no stains remain on diapers) on speed cycle - takes 25 minutes

    That's it - and my diapers are clean and odor is hardly an issue.

    I use a very tiny squirt of Palmolive detergent with bleach when "stripping" diapers of odor. This is followed by lots of rinsing.

    Must agree - rinse rinse rinse, sun sun sun. Very effective in keeping stains and odor at bay. Excited to try white vinegar when need be.

    I have a great cloth diaper email I send to friends (only when solicited) which explains diaper types and how-tos. Would be happy to share with anyone who is intersted in spreading the word!

  7. I had been using vinegar in my wash routine for about a year, but have now been told that it can trap smells in the microfiber & cause the elastic to wear out.

    I've switched to Rockin Green & LOVE it!!! It rinses so well that I don't have do a cold rinse after the hot/cold wash cycle anymore.

  8. What is Rockin' Green?

    Where did you hear that about vinegar?

  9. http://rockingreensoap.com/ - from the maker of GAD Baby...

  10. I have stink and repelling issues right now... I will take your advice and do a whole lotta rinsing :)