Today, I'm writing about how we wash diapers at our house. Everybody does it differently. I think that for many people, the washing itself seems to be the most intimidating, difficult part of cloth diapering at first. It may even prevent many people from trying cloth, but my experience is that it very quickly becomes part of your normal household routine. We've tried a few variations, but fairly quickly learned what worked for us, and what was unnecessary for us.
Step One: Toss wet diapers into a pail with a screw-top lid. We didn’t use the lid at first as her pee and poo didn’t smell much. Now that she is stinkier, we are more inclined to use the lid. Although I’ve heard that enclosing the dirties can make the smell worse, you do at least trap it for the most part. Most of the time, we spray off poo diapers with a sprayer attached to the back of the toilet before tossing them in the pail as well. This isn't strictly necessary, but also helps to keep the diaper pail smell down, and makes me more comfortable waiting a few days in between washings.
Step Two: Once the pail is full, I carry it and whatever wet bags are full into our "laundry room," which is actually more like a walk-in-closet attached to our kitchen.
Step Three: I run a rinse-only cycle in the washer on cold water, then a regular cycle with a small amount of powder, additive-free, detergent on warm, then sometimes an additional rinse cycle with white vinegar as a fabric softener. I use Arm & Hammer Free laundry soap (click here for a review/comparison).
Step Four: We either dry diapers in the dryer or on the line outside. Sometimes it takes and additional 20 minutes in the dryer to get all of our extra thick diapers dry. I have three tennis balls in the dryer that help things to dry more quickly, and collect hair off of the clothes.
Hanging them outside is nice because they smell fresh, and the sun gets out any stains, but it isn’t always practical. Covers always get laid flat or hung to dry. This picture of my clothes line was an entry for a diaperswappers.com contest. Can you believe I didn't win?!
Step Five: Fold and put away. You can just grab clean ones out of the laundry basket, and end your chore there, but I think folding diapers is actually kind of fun. Also, I like to have my different types sorted into piles so that I can easily grab the kind I want for different situations.
We don't do pre-soaks, hot washes, special soap, or any scrubbing. It's just like regular laundry, but typically one more rinse cycle. Sometimes, if I don't have a full load but want to get some clean diapers, like when packing for a trip, I will just add some regular clothes to the load after the initial rinse cycle to avoid wasting water. Easy peasy!
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