Revolutionize Your Wash Routine With These 14 Simple Cloth Diaper Laundry Tips
Do you ever wonder why some people seem to have a much easier time of it when it comes to their reusable diaper laundry? This isn’t because of any secret, inside information, an expensive washing machine, or some secret technique.
The truth is that some people have an easier time of it because they have fine-tuned every aspect of their laundry routine.
If you are doing laundry every day when you could get away with it every second or third day, struggling with rewashing loads of supposedly clean diapers, or doing lots of work by stripping your diapers, we’re here to help.
Make your life, or at least the cloth diaper aspect of it, as smooth and efficient as possible with our 14 simple tips to revolutionize your cloth diaper wash routine.
DIY Reusable Liners
Using liners in your cloth diapers isn’t necessary, but it can, sometimes, help with your wash routine.
Reusable liners can make it easier to deal with poop, and if you have an especially gross diaper full of the stuff, you have the option of disposing of the liner without having to deal with the human waste.
This can not only cut time out of your wash routine but can also minimize the chance of having to rewash an especially nasty diaper or dealing with staining on your cloth.
Flour Sack Towels for Absorbency
At first, this one seems like it is making more laundry, which seems like a bad thing, but bear with us for a moment.
If you have an older baby or toddler who is a heavy wetter that soaks their diaper, clothes, and bedding in the night, you can double up inserts for extra absorbency. If this isn’t enough, wrapping flour sack towels around your inserts or laying a folded towel inside your diaper can add the extra absorbency you need to avoid the middle of the night soakings.
Therefore, that flour sack towel saves you having to strip your child, their crib, or bed and avoids the extra load of laundry you may otherwise have to do.
Unstuff and Unsnap
We know there’s always something else demanding your attention, and it can be challenging to take the extra few moments to unstuff and unsnap those dirty diapers before you drop them in your diaper pail.
Taking a moment to do this before you drop them in the pail will save you the task when it comes to laundry time. Rather than standing and checking each diaper is unstuffed and unsnapped, you can lift out your diaper bay, tip the contents into your washing machine, drop the bag in after them, and you’re good to go.
And yes, we know that you can drop your diapers in without unstuffing, and the inserts will come out in the wash, but you’ll be assured of a more effective, deeper clean if you don’t.
That’s because when you leave the insets in your diapers, it takes a while for them to work their way out of the pocket during the wash. So, instead of the diaper and insert getting a thorough soaking and then a good, prolonged agitation in the detergent, they spend time being soaked and agitated sandwiched together. This results in a less thorough wash overall and, over time, has the potential to cause issues.
Spray, Swish, or Shake it Off
While we aren’t recommending, you spend hours removing every last scrap of poop from your dirty diapers, taking the time to remove as much as practically possible when it happens is an excellent way to improve your wash routine.
When poop dries, it becomes more difficult to remove. So, saving a few moments when you change a diaper can add several minutes at laundry time, trying to persuade the poop to release its hold on your cloth.
Also, the more poop, and the dryer the poop goes into the washing machine, the harder your detergent and washer have to work to get things clean.
Think of it this way.
Person one either doesn’t clean much of the poop off or lets it dry before removal, leaving behind a fair amount of residue. The diapers are dropped into the machine for the first rinse, then washed.
Person two removes as much poop as is practical at the time of a diaper change. Less poop goes into the machine, meaning there’s less residue for the detergent to deal with.
Baking Soda Sucks up Stink
Although it feels counter-intuitive, the more airflow you can get around your diaper pail, the less of an issue you will have with smells.
If you have enough diapers to last three days or more, using baking soda to minimize smells can mean you’re happy to leave them in your pail for longer and may be able to wash every three or four days, or even more, rather than every day or every other day.
Pail Liners & Wet Bags are Your Friends
A pail liner, hanging wet bag, or wet bag are essentially all the same thing. The only difference is the size and shape. Pail liners tend to have a larger opening so that you can fold the top down around the edge of a large pail.
Wet bags are usually smaller and often have a zipper on top, making them ideal for travel, days out, etc. Some wet bags are designed to hang, usually on the back of a door, and consequently have a handle or hoop at the top and, usually, a drawstring top.
Not everyone uses a pail liner or wet bag, and there’s nothing to say you have to use one. If you do decide to use one, the style doesn’t matter; choose whichever is most appropriate for your needs.
We love using wet bags or washable pail liners because they can make things so easy.
If you have removed your inserts, dealt with your poop, and unsnapped your diapers as you go, all you have to do when it comes to washing time is lift out the bag, tip it into the washing machine and drop the bag in afterward.
And remember - every Simple Being Reusable Diapers six-pack comes with a coordinating, travel-size wet bag.
Know Your Water Hardness
Water “hardness” refers to how much calcium and magnesium is dissolved in your water. Hard water can make a laundry detergent less effective. This leads to a build-up of soil and minerals on your fabrics - not something you want to see on cloth diapers!
This reduction in the effectiveness of your laundry detergent happens because the cleaning elements have a tendency to stick to the minerals rather than the dirt. Consequently, microscopic amounts of dirt, pee, and poop can be left behind on your diapers, building up over time and causing problems.
Unfortunately, you cannot fix this by adding more detergent. Instead, you need to consider a water softener. To know whether or not you need to add a water softener to your wash, you’ll need to know how hard your water is and how it affects the type of detergent you use.
You can find water testing strips at pet stores with aquarium supplies, some hardware stores, and Amazon. However, not all testing strips measure the hardness levels of water. When choosing a strip, be sure they are either labeled explicitly as water hardness testing strips, or if they are a multi-testing strip, hardness levels are included.
Once you know how hard your water is, check the chart below to see if you need to add a water softener, such as borax, to your laundry. If you do, follow the directions on the water softener you choose.
Avoid Plant-Based Detergents With Oils
Some “Free and Clear” style or plant-based laundry detergents contain “sodium cocoate,” which is derived from coconut oil.
Sodium cocoate is an excellent base for soaps because it washes away well in hard waters. However, it is not so good for porous surfaces, such as your reusable diapers.
In this case, the sodium cocoate molecules can bind to the dirt and minerals in the washing machine and then become lodged in the tiny hooks and loops in your fabric. Over time this builds up and can result in diapers that smell fresh when first washed but which smell strongly almost the instant your little one pees in them.
If you want to use plant-based detergent, ensure there isn’t any sodium cocoate or coconut oil listed in the ingredients.
Don’t Skimp on Detergent
Many cloth diaper users are tempted to reduce the amount of detergent in their diaper laundry. The theory is that this will prevent any build-up on the diapers or minimize the chances of any type of adverse skin reaction.
Whatever you do, don’t skimp on your laundry detergent. Use precisely how much the manufacturer advises for a heavily soiled load.
Using less will not prevent a skin reaction if your child is sensitive, nor will it minimize detergent build-up. The only thing you will achieve by using less than the recommended amount of detergent is laundry that’s not as clean as it should be.
You Want A “Loose Stew”
Laundry is made clean by the agitation of the cloths and detergent in the water.
That’s why, before washing machines, people would rub clothes against a washboard, rock, or other items instead of just leaving them to soak in water.
Too little water and your diapers will not be able to move about enough to obtain sufficient agitation. Too much water and your diapers won’t brush up against each other enough to become clean.
Think of it in terms of food.
The proportion of laundry to water should resemble a “loose stew.” Too much water and you get soup, too little, and you’ll get chili.
Sun Your Stains
When it comes to diaper stains, sunshine is your best friend.
If you check your clean diapers and discover stains, lay them or hang them in the sunshine to dry. You can do this straight from the washing machine, or if the diaper is already dry when you notice the stains, soak it in water first.
Stripping Isn’t Usually Necessary
When you begin researching cloth diapers, you’ll probably read a great deal about stripping diapers.
But we’ll let you in on a secret.
You don’t usually need to strip your diapers.
Many people use cloth diapers for years, for multiple children, and never have to strip their diapers. Not once. So you can completely forget about building it into your wash routine.
Diaper stripping should only happen in rare cases where you have smell or absorbency issues and have tried everything else.
Hot Wash for Absorbency
Multiple hot washes with detergent will make your cloth diapers more absorbent. If you find your diapers are becoming less absorbent over time, two or three hot washes with detergent will help to restore absorbency.
Simply run your diapers and inserts through the washing machine on a few short, hot washes. In this case, because you are not washing the diapers to get them clean, you can skip the cold pre-wash and the extra rinses for all except the final wash.
This one seems counter-intuitive; after all, lifting the diapers out of the washer and dumping them in the dryer is quick and easy, even if you still have to take them out of the dryer, fold, and if you use pockets - stuff.
However, using the dryer exposes your diapers to heat, which can, over time, damage your elastics. This, in turn, can cause your diapers to leak around the leg, causing more laundry.
Revolutionize Your Cloth Diaper Routine
These are our top tips for streamlining your cloth diaper laundry routine. Do you have some top tips you would like to share?