Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Cloth Diaper Wash Routine

OK, NOW the cloth diaperin' fun begins!

It's been 2 days since you pulled your freshly washed diapers out of the dryer and guess what? It's time again to empty the diaper pail! Here's how it looks in our house.

After a diaper change (yes, it is normal for Prefolds to feel heavy and WET.) we toss the diaper into a cheapo trash can with lid that we line with a Costco garbage bag. This 'diaper pail' sits right next to my changing station in Jericho's room.Very simple. Also, occasionally very stinky!

I try to wash diapers when the pail gets full, so every 2-3 days. This roughly coincides with running dangerously low on diapers but I still lose motivation occasionally (OK, a LOT. Right now I'm on day... Hmm.... 5? Don't follow suit! Your nose will thank you!).

After tossing each diaper into the wash (making certain I close any velcro and keep my dirty diaper covers out) I fill up the washer with cold water. It's better to have too few diapers than too many otherwise not everything will come out clean. OK, so, here is my wash routine in a nice, simply listed format:

*Cold wash with a small amount of detergent (about 1/2 manufacterer recomandations), 10 drops of Tea Tree Oil and about 1 Tbs of BioKleen Bac Out (an enzyme cleaner that helps eat the pee and poo)

*Hot wash with normal amount of detergent (at this point I toss in my diaper covers)

*Cold wash (no matter the load size, I select 'small' and 'light wash') with about 1/4- 1/2 cup of vinegar. This wash is to basically rinse out every last detergent sud. The PH of vinegar breaks up any lingering detergent. Before this wash, I pull out my diaper covers and line dry them.


*Open the dryer. Take a big whiff. If I smell anything (ANYTHING!) remotely stinky (usually a very faint ammonia smell), I know I failed miserably have to either add more detergent next time or add more vinegar to break up suds because I added too MUCH detergent! I still use the diapers as is but watch for rashing on Jericho's delicate behind.

OK. I will be the first to admit that finding a correct wash routine with the correct detergent has been a nightmare for me. It's like fitting pieces together in the world's smelliest puzzle. Jericho tends to get a lot of rashes so I have to be extra careful. Here are some pointers I've come across along the way.

*Do NOT, I repeat, DO NOT use ANY barrier cream without using a diaper liner. The cream is so good at creating a barrier on your baby's butt that it will also create a barrier causing your diaper to repell liquid. Not good. For a liner, I simple use cut up pieces of fleece. It also keeps your baby feeling nice and dry. (For a cheap, natural, lovely barrier cream, I use Lansinoh lanolin cream. Works better than Butt Paste and Desitin combined!! Also works great as chapstick although you'll probably want to buy separate tubes for butt/lips).

*Sun is your friend! If there is any staining or stinking, the sun will neutralize that. You will definetly want to find out what's causing your stinking, though.

*It is NOT normal for your baby's diaper to stink when fresh pee hit it. Fresh pee is sterile. The most likely culprit is too much detergent. Either use less next time or add and extra wash with or without vinegar.

*Do not use a detergent with dye, fragrance, "brighteners" or enzymes. OK, some people get away with using detergents with this stuff in them. There are hordes of CDing mamas who get away with using simple, old Tide. Some even claim that nothing has worked better. I tried Tide and it caused rashing. Right now I use Planet (about $9 at Fred Meyer) but am just waiting for the UPS guy to drop off my Charlie's Soap detergent. It's supposed to be the best for cloth and have amazing cleaning powers for your everyday laundry. And guess what? It's by far the cheapest detergent per load. I'll let you know how I like it! http://www.charliesoap.com/

*I hear water softness/hardness, water mineral count, chlorine additives (city water) and PH can all effect diaper washing. This is why each household has their own wash technique.

*Bleach. Some use it, some don't. I've used it once but after hearing about the carcinogen effect of it, vowed to never again. For disinfectant I use Tea Tree Oil combined with the Enzyme cleaner in my initial wash. I will freely admit that one wash with a tiny bit of bleach can cure a multitude of stink/rash problems. Go with your gut.

*To find out if you need the third wash as I do, during the last rinse during your hot cycle, open the washer lid and see if there's any visible soap suds. If there are, you either need to lessen the amount of detergent or add the third wash. I suppose you could always just add vineger to the last rinse of your hot cycle but you'd really be having to pay attention to your washer then to see when it starts it's last rinse. I'm too lazy.

*If you are truely considereing cloth diapering and find all of this info overwhelming (as I did) start with the simplest wash routine possible. You can trouble shoot from there. Here is how I started:

*Cold wash w/NO detergent
*Hot wash w/1/2 the amount of Planet

Once my Charlie's Soap gets here, I'm going to go back to my simple routine and work from there. If the diapers stink, the first thing I would do is add a bit more detergent to the hot wash. After that, perhaps TTO/enzyme cleaner or else just more detergent in the cold wash. I'll also be the first to admit that I'm sort of a novice at this wash thing. For some reason it confuses me. I guess it could be that too much detergent causes the same stink/rash issues as too little detergent and it's troublesome to narrow it down.

Now that I've made things sound sooo complicated, I want you to know that I actually ENJOY washing my diapers! I don't know what it is, it's just... fun!

Here's a great link to how other mom's wash their cloth diapers:



  1. I've been cloth diapering for three babies and I'm STILL learning new stuff! I'm waiting for a place with a clothes line so I can sunbleach my diapers (I've been told chlorine bleach is too harsh on them). I use vinegar in the rinse, but have never used Tea Tree Oil. I usually go for a second rinse (mostly because the hot wash cycle ends in a cold rinse) and it seems to work pretty well. We've been all over the place with stinky diapers and what to do about them. My favorite tip I came across in my research was: "wash them in the dishwasher"! (Something I never tried but got a kick out of anyway!)

  2. Dishwasher, huh?? That would be so funny! Also, weird!!! LOL. I bet you and me have a lot in common!! What kind of diapers do you use? What about detergent? I STILL feel new panic when we get the "stinkies"!!

  3. PooPocket Diapers. My sister-in-law made me a bunch with Abigail and I just sewed 48 of them with my mother-in-law before Aaliyah was born. I just use regular detergent. I HAVE to make sure I rinse the diapers before I wash them or I'm washing them again (and again and again!) I always do a warm wash and a hot rinse. And actually, it turns out to be just washing them twice because I never remember to pull them out afterward! The water here is very hot and does a VERY good job at stripping the diapers. I've also used baking soda to deodorize which seemed to help. I actually don't mind doing extra laundry to wash them, although I don't particularly like to fold, but that's another matter!

  4. PooPocket? I think I read about them somewhere! Cute name! Is your sister-in-law the maker of PooPocket? How old is Aaliyah, now? Lots of questions, LOL! I don't like washing diapers but I love folding them! You should wash mine and I'll fold yours :-)

  5. Thanks hethir! I can't wait to start changing Olivia's diaper and washing them(0:

  6. That was from Jess not jas...must be logged in under him

  7. She is NOT the maker, but a strong advocate. Out of all the designs, she liked these the best because of the gussets on the sides. I've not had an issue with leakage/blowouts with them and have really appreciated the design. If only I could get you up here to Alaska! I'd be happy to wash if you would fold. LOL! Oh, and Aaliyah is 10 months and I'm two months pregnant. I think that answers everything!

  8. You're pregnant??? AWESOME!!! Also, I didn't realize you were in AK! WOW!! I was thinking Eastern WA for some reason!! I'm so looking into those diapers! Thanks!!

  9. It's okay, I just announced it! And I WAS in Easstern WA till last summer so you're not too far behind. ;)