Diaper Laundry, Its not so bad.

Ok, so here's a topic I get asked about fairly often. I usually find myself looking at the questioner like he or she is a lunatic, actually. thats because Diaper Laundry is just one more load of laundry. And it really isn't any harder than any other load of laundry.

Usually, Coversations go something like this:

"OH, you use cloth? Isn't that Hard?"(exchange gross, stinky, timeconsuming, what have you here... its all the same)

Me: No, not hard, why would it be hard?

See, thats when the conversation can get interesting, and its usually in the next few minutes I either have someone convinced they'd like to try cloth, or they tune out and aren't listening any more.

So lets address some more common misconceptions, shall we?

1. DUNKING. Dunking is hardly ever (and for me, in a year and a half of cloth, never) necessary. People think of dunking as a requirement of cloth diapering because they remember their mothers, or grandmothers doing it, or they've heard stories about it. I can't tell you how many times I have heard the story of coming in from playing to find the baby's soggy wet diaper soaking in the toilet bowl, or the tub, or sink, or wherever. I can tell you that I have never had a diaper soaking in my toilet, nor have I ever heard of any of my MANY acquaintances and friends in the cloth diapering world doing this either. It just isn't needed.

When babies are very little, their waste is by nature water-soluble. This may seem strange to those new to cloth, but with breastfed babes at least, you can throw it right into the washing machine. I promise, it won't hurt your machine. Honestly, I have no experience with Formula fed babies waste, so maybe a kind reader will fill me in on that one. Both My Beebas are exclusively fed at the breast.

Toddler waste is much more solid, and in most cases will roll, or can be shaken off the diaper straight into the toilet. No dunking, no swishing here... what doesn't come off, (the very small bits) can go into the wash... it'll come clean.

Ah... but you notice, I missed a period. This is the hardest part. The stage of time when babies are starting to eat solid foods, but are still on a highly liquid diet. That's the hardest stage, actually. Thats the stage where you are reluctant to just throw it in the wash, but it doesn't roll off, either. Ironically, thats also the stage at which I entered into cloth when I started with Beeba 1. Its really not that bad, though.

Yes, it may require a bit more than just a shake, though. I still don't know very many people who dunk. There is a nice handy tool for this very situation. Its called a Mini Shower, and it connects to the clean water supply on your toilet. You can buy one online, or you can go to a hardware store and buy the basic components for less. Either way, you then can use it to spray that goopy stuff off your diapers and keep your hands clean while actually using less water.

I am also told it works well as a personal bidet. I don't have one, though I may ask my husband to put one up when Beeba 2 hits that stage, so I can't tell you about that.

2. Smelly Diapers, Bleach, and getting them clean enough. Bluntly put, Many people are worried that they will not get their diapers clean enough washing them at home, or that they will need a lot of bleach, or other harsh chemicals to do it. Some people may even have tried using cloth for a short time and found that they had an odor left in their diapers. Well, for starters, this is not something that needs to be an issue. Lets go over some of the points of washing.

Diapers SHOULD be washed on hot. the hot water will help sanitize them. If you have one of the newer machines with a SANITIZE setting, use it. If not, set your water temperature high on your water heater. I have been asked about smelly diapers a few times, and the first thing I asked back is what temperature do you wash on. More often than not, they are washing on cold or warm, however they wash their clothes. I can't say it enough, WASH ON HOT. Then add a second rinse to your process.

Most people I know would advocate a rinse cycle before the hot wash. This would be done on cold. Personally, I don't do it, but I have an old top loader. If you have a newer front loader or high efficiency washer, I would suggest using a rinse first. it will help remove any lingering bits before the main wash. Front loaders don't use as much water and so sometimes do not work quite as well for diapers... which makes me wonder whether they really work well for any clothes, but I don't have one, so I don't know.

As for bleach, don't use it. I know, your mother, or her mother, or whoever has told you about cloth diapers has probably said you will need to invest in it. You don't. What we know about bleach now that they may not have known is that it breaks down fibers, and shortens the life of them. As far as getting stains out, or disinfecting, well... the sun does just as good a job on both fronts. My husband's grandmother likes to tell peopole that all her friends and neighbors used to assume she used gallons of bleach, since all her whites and her kids whites stayed so bright and clean looking. And she was a nurse with 9 kids, so she had a lot of whites. She very rarely if ever used bleach, though. Her whites stayed that way because she line-dried her clothes. Now, you don't need to line dry your diapers, though if you want to, by all means do so. I want to put up a line in my yard myself. but if you do have a stain that can't be gotten rid of, lay it out in the sun. The back window of a car, or laid out on your porch, or any place where it will get direct sun will work. In a couple days time, your stains will have faded away.

For those of us who don't have lines to hang our diapers on, or who don't want to, a hot cycle in the drier will help to finish the sanitizing process.

Another useful hint is no matter how much you want to use extra detergent, DON'T! Too much detergent causes build up, and not just on diapers. but on diapers you will see the effects of that build-up. Detergent build-up can mean less absorbency, and more stink issues. It can cause a pocket diaper to repel liquid, instead of wicking it through to the insert. It can make a good diaper leak well before its time. If this happens, you'll need to think about Stripping your diapers. But that is a topic I'll leave for another day.

Laundry detergents come with a scoop or a cap with little marker lines telling you how much to use. Don't listen to them. They want you to use that because you will use the detergent faster, and need to buy more. In reality, you only need between a quarter to half of what they recommend, and you will have to find that perfect amount. Ideally, you want a little bit of sudsing when you are doing your wash, but by the time you get to your second rinse, you are hoping to see NO SUDS AT ALL. you also do not want to smell your detergent. Clean diapers should smell like clean water, not soap.

You can add a little Essential Oil if you are inclined. If you do, go sparingly. A few drops can go a long way. Try a few out, to see what you like. My recommendations, tea tree oil, lavender oil, or eucalyptus oil. Or any combination of those. They have cleansing properties, and smell yummy.

Tea tree is Antiseptic, Antifungal, and AntiViral. Eucalyptus is an analgesic, and is antiseptic, and can help with minimizing odor retention. It is effective against bacteria, especially Staphylococci. Lavender is antiseptic, analgesic, and also has deodorizing properties.

If you do use Essential Oils, you may smell a hint of them lingering on your clean diapers. Thats ok. Just use one you like.

You want to avoid using detergents that contain lots of extra chemicals, like brighteners, or enzymes. These can cause issues. I use All Free and Clear, and have had no issues. You can find one you like on this chart.

Did I make everything confusing enough? I'll probably have to come back and edit for clarity later, because I honestly can't remember everything I wrote right now. I've been interrupted a few times.

So here's a basic laundry routine for diapers:
Step 1, Cold rinse with no detergent.
Step 2, Hot wash with a small amount of detergent.
Step 3, Extra rinse cycle. (my machine has a setting for this, I just turn it one. If yours doesn't, you may need to do this manually. Important for getting all detergent out.)
Step 4, Dry in dryer on hot, or hang on line.
Step 5, You're done. Organize them however you like and pat yourself on the back.

Speaking of organization, I have a few pics of my diaper area, and since I haven't shown any pics today, they'll do nicely. My Diapers are kept on the shelf above my washer and dryer (which, happily, are on my first floor) On one side I have Diapers for Beeba 1, on the other side are Beeba 2's diapers. Of course, I redo my area fairly often... it tends to get messy. But it works for us.


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