Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Washing Tips

My last post was about washing routines, care, and instructions. Now I’d like to discuss some tips that I’ve learned when it comes to washing & drying cloth diapers. A common theme that runs through all the tips will be trial and error. It’s normal in the beginning to have washes not turn out clean diapers. Find what works for you! Different machines, water types {hard/soft}, detergents, and diaper brands will all create different wash routines for different people. And from my experience sometimes even a good wash routine may fail. My biggest problem…broccoli. The boys love it, but when served at dinner, I expect horrid diapers in the morning. I now know that a pre-rinse with the sprayer before putting the diapers in the pail does a lot of good. And I also can tell when our water softener needs more salt, because more soap is needed. So be flexible with your wash routine, and hopefully these tips will make wash day so easy it won’t even feel like a chore!
·         Detergent Amount: Use enough detergent. How much is enough? Your diapers should not have any stink smell when coming out of the washing machine. If they smell stinky, re-wash. It’s also a good idea to check if there are any suds in the final rinse cycle. Too many suds means too much soap. Run another rinse cycle, and use less soap next time.
·         Proper load size: Too many dirties and too few diapers will create havoc. Too many and they won’t come clean. Remember, HE machines don’t use a lot of water. Too few diapers, and they can’t “scrub” against each other very well when washing. There isn’t a magic number, but 18 diapers is a good number to work with. Have I washed more than 18 and less than 18 in loads? Yes. It’s all about being flexible. Adjust soap and wash cycles as needed.
·         Rinse: Rinse the poo! A diaper sprayer is a must. Rinse all the poo off that you can. Less poo on the diaper while in the pail, means less poo in the pre-rinse cycle, and hopefully no poo in the wash cycle. {Please note that breastfed poo is exempt. This rinses away without the need to spray in the toilet.} Rinsing also helps to keep staining at bay. {Confession Alert! I rinse during naptime and after bedtime. Too many “helpful” hands and people in the bathroom while I work. I flick what comes off easily into the toilet and close the diaper up until rinse time. Gross, but effective.}
·         Trick your washer: I have read about, but never used the “Towel Trick”. It consists of adding a towel in your load during the sensing part of the cycle {the beginning} and removing it before the water & soap is added. I have often times poured large bowls of water over a load before the pre-rinse to make the diapers heavier. HE machines go by weight to determine how much water to use. My reasoning is that half dry diapers are only half as heavy. So pouring large bowls of water will make them heavier, and then more water will be used by machine. It’s ok if the water drains out, this is just to get your diapers wet and heavy not to add water to the cycle.
·         Hang dry: Hang drying means less wear and tear on your diapers. Lint is the breaking down of fabrics. Anything that is microfiber hang dries in my house. No need for it to be soft and fluffy since it never touches skin. Pockets and covers are also air dried. Anything that is cotton and touches skin gets dried on low heat for 15-20 minutes before hanging out. Or a good shaking out helps soften up the fabric after air drying.
·         Sun: The sun is the best sanitizer and stain remover. Be sure to Practice Safe Sun.
·         Large Stash Size: This is probably the least mentioned and most important tip when it comes to washing diapers. It is essential to have a good size stash {over 24, closer to 36 + diapers} to keep your diapers functional. Repeated washing of a small stash will wear out your diapers faster. I guarantee it! You will not save money by having a small stash, because they will wear out quickly and you will have to buy more. A large amount of diapers will keep them rotating through less frequently, and will make them last longer. The diapers will then wear and tear at a slower rate, and since they will last longer you will get your money’s worth. They’ll be sure to last for more babies or will be acceptable condition to sell to others. As with any fabric, repeated washing & drying will wear out the item. Think of your fav shirt. You’ve probably had it for years and wear it in high rotation in your wardrobe. Does it have holes? Is it frayed? Is it super thin and faded? Yes, yes, and yes. You love it, but it’s not a “functional” shirt to wear outside of the house. At least mine isn’t. The same will happen if you have too few diapers. Be sure to invest in your diapers and make them last through potty learning and then some!


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