So I had made the decision to cloth diaper and I had 18 diapers still in their original packaging neatly packed in my son’s top drawer…. And there they sat for two months. I had them, but I was still very intimidated by them. They each represented a great investment (at nearly $20 a diaper) and I was so worried that I was going to do something to ruin them. The internet is filled with cloth diaper horror stories and I was genuinely scared. I was scared that I was going to wash them wrong and they were going to get build-up and stop absorbing and even worse, give my baby boy ammonia burn. So, I finally decided to consult the pro. In comes Mrs. Smith. She confessed to me everything that she had done wrong in washing her cloth diapers and about the diapers that she had ruined along the way. I just wanted to do it right from the start and not later regret what I had done along the way. This is what keeps me from moving forward in most things… I want to start things right or I won’t do it at all.
So I have compiled the top 5 cloth diaper laundering tips that I have received along the way from my good friend Mrs. Smith.
1. Store your soiled cloth diapers in an open wet bag.
With disposable diapers you want to keep the stinkies in an air-tight container to keep the smells tight inside. Pocket cloth diapers are different. Allowing your diapers some airflow will help keep the stinks at bay. (Think the smell of forgotten gym clothes in a gym bag being opened after a few days. Yuck.) The open wet-bag, like the FuzziBunz one that I store my son’s soiled diapers in has a great zipper bottom that allows me to transfer icky diapers to the wash without having to touch a diaper. I simply unzip the bag over my washing machine and then drop the empty bag right into the wash with the diapers. My bag gets washed with every cloth diaper load, so it always gets a fresh start.
2. Invest in a diaper sprayer.
When my mom talks about cloth diapering my sister and me, she always talks about dunking poopy diapers in the toilet. Yuck. My mom loves us a lot. I won’t do that for my son, and I do love him a lot. If your baby is solely breast-fed then you won’t need a diaper sprayer at first. Breast milk poo can go straight into the wash. It is water-soluble. I promise. After baby starts on solids you will need to knock solids into the toilet before laundering. Sometimes this is easy, but other times the poop isn’t so solid. This is when the diaper sprayer comes into play. You can simply spray off the poop into the toilet. (My gosh I don’t think I have typed poop so many times in my life!) I have the FuzziBunz diaper sprayer and it runs for about $50. It is an investment, but it is so worth how non-messy it makes cloth diapering in the long run.
3. Follow your cloth diaper manufacturer’s washing recommendations.
Once you decide what brand you are going to use (and you don’t have to choose just one!), carefully go over the manufacturer’s washing recommendations on their website. Not following the manufacturer’s washing instructions will void your warranty. One of the big reasons why I chose FuzziBunz was because of their strong warranty. If any snaps break over the course of the first year, they send you a brand new diaper. Awesome! I had two diapers that had snaps that broke out of my 17 FuzziBunz diapers and it was so worth having such a great warranty! I didn’t want to void my warranty in any way, so I decided to follow their directions to the T. I dump my diapers into a cold water soak/rinse cycle. I have gotten into the habit of just leaving the top of my washer open (I know you HE users can’t do that) so that I can get a good long soak (about 30 minutes to an hour… or until I remember that I put them in the wash. Ha!) Next I sprinkle a half of a tablespoon of Rockin’ Green for FuzziBunz detergent over my diapers. You really don’t need to use a ton of soap with cloth diapers. I run a hot wash with a cold rinse. I always do the smell test after that wash. If I ever smell a hint of yuck, I just run another cold rinse and that usually does it. FuzziBunz recommend either drying inserts and covers on warm or drying on a line in the sun. I do live in one of the sunniest places in the world, but I haven’t moved myself to being that green, yet.
4. Use a detergent that is cloth diaper friendly.
There are so many detergents out there. Mrs. Smith had first recommended for me to to read through
before making a decision on what detergent to use on my cloth diapers. It is a great chart if you are the kind of person who needs to know all the information before making a decision. I am not this way at all. I need someone who I trust do the research for me and then in short explain my best option. (This is just one of the million reasons why I love my husband. He loves to research for me.) Mrs. Smith’s top four detergent choices are Charlie’s Soap, Rockin’ Green, Country Save, and Eco Sprout. I started with Charlie’s Soap for my first four months of cloth diapering and then switched to Rockin’ Green. Both worked well on my diapers, but I have landed on Rockin’ Green. I might be crazy, but I could faintly smell Charlie’s Soap after washing and I didn’t like the smell. Anyone else will probably tell you that I am crazy and that Charlie’s Soap is scent free. It is. Call me crazy. Rockin’ Green is also specially formulated for FuzziBunz diapers. Once again, please read what detergents are recommended by the diaper manufacturer. The number one recommendations for FuzziBunz are Rockin’ Green or Allen’s Naturally. Every detergent that you use will cause some build-up, which can cause diapers to loose some absorbancy. I haven’t had a problem with this in my 10 months of washing cloth diapers. I am a firm believer in using a cloth diaper friendly detergent. You will save time and money in the end.
5. You will get stinky diapers at some point and here is how to deal.
It was so good to know that stink will happen. I remember the day. I was trying to stuff inserts into the liners and kept having to walk away because I was nearly going to puke over the strong ammonia stench. What had I done wrong? I was so flustered that I had ruined my diapers! In comes Mrs. Smith. Stink will happen occasionally, but it is easily remedied. The first thing that I learned that I was doing wrong was not always running my washing machine on a large load each time I laundered my diapers. I have a really small stacked washer/dryer and when I was running a small or medium load, there wasn’t enough water to dilute out the pee. Next I needed to de-funk my diapers. This was my first experience with Rockin’ Green and why I have never gone back to any other detergent. I soaked the stinky diapers in my washer with 2 tablespoons of Rockin’ Green for a few hours. If you have an HE washer like Mrs. Smith, then you will need to soak in your bathtub (or a large farm sink might work.) After that, proceed with washing as normal. Mrs. Smith likes to do a scoop in her cold/cold rinse cycle every time, then follows with a hot/cold with half a tablespoon of Charlie’s soap. I de-funk about every month with Rockin’ Green and wash with it every time. I have never had the smellies after that. Must be working!