05 December 2010

Time to Wash Those Diapers

I use cloth diapers for my younger child and love it.  Today I have to wash them, which is something that I was curious about before really using them full time, and which people ask about when they learn that I use them. 

I was surprised at how easy it is to wash cloth diapers.  All you need is a washing machine and laundry detergent.  I found out that the laundry detergent can really make a difference in this.  Many laundry detergents that are fine for use on our clothing just do not work on washing out ammonia and human waste, and many leave residue which can cause painful skin burns on babies. 

I use Tide HE and use roughly one tablespoon worth in a cold wash in my front loader HE washing machine.  Then, I run a hot wash with the same amount of detergent.  I follow this with a rinse and dry them in my clothes dryer.  I do not dry clothing inside as this grows mold, which can damage the structure and value of your most expensive investment, your house.  We just moved recently into a new house so I am waiting until spring for a clothesline to be set up for the backyard, so that I can dry the diapers outside in the sun, like my mother did, and her mother did before her, and so on...

I am planning on switching to Country Save detergent in a month, but I have to order it from a health food store, so I keep procrastinating.  I think the fact that the Tide works for now keeps allowing my procrastination to continue.

In the meantime, to deal with the optical brighteners in Tide, I strip the diapers once a month, which is not very difficult, either.  I wash the diapers as usual, and afterwards, use one teaspoon of blue Original Dawn with a Sanitize setting for my inserts and prefolds.  My pockets, wraps, and AIO's get washed with Dawn in a seperate tub.  I then throw in the pockets and AIO's into the washer and run usually about 2-3 hot wash cycles until no bubbles are visible in the wash water.  One rinse and a tumble through the dryer and we have diapers free of any chemicals and which smell wonderfully fresh.

I keep dirty diapers in my disposable diaper pail.  It was a gift from a friend of mine when my second was due and I was still going to use disposable diapers at the time.  I use a kitchen trash bag in it, with some baking soda sprinkled in the bottom of the pail and a couple of dryer sheets as well, just to keep smells down, as I did with disposable diapers.  When the trashbag has gotten used a few times, I put it as our kitchen trashcan on the days when I am cleaning out our refrigerator, pulling weeds in the garden, or emptying the kitty litter box, that way it isn't wasted.  I am however, hoping to buy a diaper pail liner in the near future. 

I want to also add that I have never heard any comments that my baby smells like urine or that her room does, either, which is a question that I have heard when I was researching the best way to cloth diaper my baby.  I suppose that people assume that disposables do not smell, but they do when baby uses them.  Perhaps their concerns are that cloth diapers always smell but when they are cleaned, all cloth diapering mamas check with a sniff test, and I have never washed my baby's diapers and afterward smelled anything at all in the cloth.  If I would have, it would have meant that I did not wash them properly.

I also make sure that since baby eats solid foods, I shake the stool into the toilet, the same way my mother did for me, and her mother did for her, and so on.  However, breasfted baby stool is water soluble and all babies are born with sterile "guts", in other words, no bacteria in their stool, so there is no need to do this until baby eats solids or formula.  Also, many cloth diapering mamas use inserts once baby gets older.  I, personally, fold in half a birdseye flat cloth diaper and lay it inside the prefold to catch stool, as it is easier to dunk and wash stool stains from the birdseye since it has less layers.

For travelling, I use two zippered plastic freezer bags.  One is labeled "Wipes" and the other "Dirty Diapers".  That way, they are not mixed up.  I am also planning on purchasing a "wet bag" soon.  Or perhaps I will sew one myself.

Diaper washing is done every other day to every three days in my house and it does not inconvenience me at all.  My main lesson was learning that I do not need to add anything to my washing routine.  Many sites will recommend the use of baking soda or white vinegar, which I have tried.  I have very hard water so the baking soda left my diapers stiff and uncomfortable against the skin.  White vinegar did no difference at all, so it just added another rinse cycle to no purpose.

I personally do not use bleach in washing my cloth diapers.
I love cloth diapering my baby.  It keeps her safe from chemicals, and saves me a ton of money.  It's also another shining moment when I say to myself "Babies like it simple and basic, so should Mommy".

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