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How to Wash Cloth Diapers
(Click here to learn How to Wash Cloth Diapers for the First Time)
Washing cloth diapers is easy, honest! The first question many people as me is how to wash cloth diapers. Our mothers had to struggle when it came time to wash cloth diapers. These ain't your mama's cloth diapers! Modern cloth diapers and modern washing machines make washing diapers a breeze.
These instructions will work for most types of diapers. It is always best to follow the manufacturer's instructions.
There is no need to remove breastfed baby poop from the diapers as this will easily wash out. You can shake the diaper over the toilet to remove any solids from older babies before putting them into the diaper pail.
If you prefer, you can also use a diaper sprayer attached to the toilet to easily rinse solid waste away. Don't worry about removing all traces of messes, the residue will wash out. I recommend a diaper pail liner so you don't have to scrub the diaper pail.
How to Wash
1. Empty diapers into washer. On wash day simply use the diaper pail liner to carry the diapers to the washer and then push the diaper pail liner inside out to empty the cloth diapers into the washer. You can wash the diaper pail liner right along with the diapers.
2. Cold rinse to remove residual solids. Fill the washer with cold water and soak for no more than 10 minutes or so. Let the washer spin out all of the rinse water.
3. Hot wash. Reset the washer to a wash cycle with hot water. Add the detergent. I recommend using a detergent for cloth diapers and using the amount of detergent recommended on the bottle or bag.
*NEVER use natural soaps or fabric softeners as they leave a residue that will coat the diapers and make them repel water. Do not use Ivory Snow or Dreft as these will also cause buildup. Some people have good luck with Tide or Tide Free, although these are not recommended by many cloth diaper manufacturers. See Recommended Cloth Diaper Detergents list. I personally use and highly recommend Allen's Naturally* Please check with your diapers manufactuers for their recommended detergents.
4. Optional Second Rinse You may wish to do a second rinse to make sure that there is no detergent residue to irritate baby's skin.
5. Dry your diapers. You can then line dry or use a dryer. Most diapers and covers do fine in the dryer despite the myths that surround PUL (polyurethane laminate, a popular cloth diaper fabric). PUL is actually very resilient and running it through the dryer on hot helps to seal any small holes that have developed in the waterproofing layer.
Most pocket diaper and cover manufacturers recommend using the dryer to tighten up PUL from time to time. Some elastics do not do well in the dryer, so it is a good idea to follow the manufacturers recommendation here as well.
If you line dry your covers and shells they will last longer. Exposure to heat from the dryer can cause elastic to wear out more quickly.
I have found the best practice here is to use the dryer ocasionally.
If you use wool diaper covers, wash by hand or make sure they are machine washable and dryable or you will end up with doll sized diapers.
If you are using diapers made from natural fabrics, you will need to wash them alone several times before the first use to remove the natural plant oils. You will want to avoid washing fleece or suedecloth lined diapers or covers with hemp during these first washes as the hemp oils leave a residue.
If your cloth diapers start to smell funny, repel liquid (causing leaks) or are not as soft as they used to be, it may be necessary to strip them.
I recommend you first do this using only water. Wash the diapers as you normally do then do several HOT water rinses. During these rinses you can check the water for suds. If you see suds keep rinsing until you no longer see the soap bubbles.
If this does not fix your issue then you can strip with dish soap. You can strip the diapers by washing them by hand with a very small amount of dish soap and then rinsing them in the washer until the water no longer foams when the washer agitates. Using dish soap in the washer may void your warranty, so it is best not to use it in the washer. Many people recommend using orginal blue Dawn Dish Soap.
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