Thursday, September 15, 2011

Washing, Drying, and Other Considerations for Cloth Diapers

How do I wash cloth diapers? Is there anything special I need to know before beginning to wash them? What about drying? Is there anything else I need to know about cloth diaper care?

These questions were big ones for me when I first started cloth diapering. I knew enough to know that I needed to ask the questions, I just didn’t know the answers. I did some searching online which is where I got most of my information, though I did talk to some friends who were familiar with cloth diaper care and they filled me in, too.

I’d say the main things you need to know before you begin your cloth diaper care, are: laundry detergent DOES matter, high efficiency front loader washers wash differently than top loaders, DON’T use fabric softener, and DON’T use regular diaper rash creams.

I found a couple wonderful sites that tell you what laundry detergents are best. This one is the most comprehensive chart that I found. They even have the kind of detergent that we use listed, which is not something you can purchase in a store. I was pretty excited to find this chart. One thing that I have definitely learned, is that your water, your baby’s skin, and your type of washer makes a difference. Hard water will wash differently than soft water, your baby may have skin that reacts to certain types of detergent, and because HE washers use less water, you have to take a little more time to wash them…I use a cold rinse cycle first, then run a hot/cold heavy duty cycle with extra rinse at the end. The bottom line is that you may need to try a few different kinds of detergents before finding the perfect one for you and your baby’s bum based on your water, baby’s skin, and washer. Elegant Mommy does carry detergent, so we would be a great place to start! Check out our selection either in one of our retail store locations or here J

So now that we’ve covered washing, what about drying? Well, you have a couple choices. You can either hang dry or dry them in your dryer. I do a combination, depending on how quickly I need them dry J. It is a very good thing to dry your dipes outside in the sun as often as possible. It airs them out nicely, and the sun takes care of any stains that might be on them. For my pocket diapers, I like to dry the actual dipes by hanging them when I can, and I dry the inserts in the dryer. Technically you can dry all of your diapers all of the time, but I’ve heard that the PUL (the waterproof fabric in pockets, AIOs, and covers) can break down quicker if you do. I’ve also heard that drying them all the time can make them look more worn and lock in odors. So, do whatever works best for you, but know that hang drying has advantages over machine drying.

So, as for special care, first of all, do NOT use fabric softeners. There are some out there that state they are safe for cloth diapers, but it’s going to be easier just not to use softeners at all. Fabric softeners make fabric non-absorbent by creating a seal on the fibers. Secondly, do NOT use regular diaper rash creams. They, also create a seal on the fibers making them water resistant – this makes sense since the point of diaper rash creams is to create a barrier to wetness for your baby’s skin. If you find you’re your cloth diapers are not as absorbent as they should be, you will need to strip them. I recommend doing an online search to find out how to strip them…there are several methods, and you’ll need to find the one that works best for you. Thirdly, dirty diapers should be stored in a container that allows airflow while waiting to be washed. The more oxygenated the container, the less likely you are to have a smell problem when you wash, and you are also less likely to have an ammonia problem. Ammonia can actually burn your baby’s bum, and let me tell you from experience – it is NOT fun to deal with! My baby got ammonia burn blisters on his butt and penis. I felt SO bad for him…he woke up in the middle of the night just crying and crying...and he rarely wakes up in the night. So, if you can avoid creating ammonia, I highly recommend it!

Well, that’s all for washing and drying dipes. I hope you find this helpful, and as always, if you have any questions, you can contact any one of us here at Elegant Mommy either here on the blog, on our Facebook page, or just stop in to the store or call anytime. Happy cloth diapering!

By Evie DeWitt


Anonymous said...

How did u get rid of the ammonia???

Evie said...

I tried several things. First of all, I washed them really, really well (several times) with vinegar, because that neutralizes the ammonia. That didn't completely get rid of it, though, so I now boil my inserts when I can tell there's ammonia in the dipes. I boil them for 15-30 minutes then wash on my washer's sanitize setting with an extra rinse. I put vinegar into the fabric softener compartment and the same amount of detergent that I normally use. It really seems to do the trick. I do know, though, that if you boil your dipes, it may void your diaper's warranty. So, if you have purchased your dipes new, make sure to know what the warranty says before boiling. I make my own with a few from diapapallooza and three purchased ones. I don't really worry about the warranty personally, but want to make sure you know about that possibility :) Good luck!!