How Do I Clean My Cloth Diapers?
Cleaning your cloth diapers is very simple and easy. Properly cleaned diapers will never smell after washing, will not repel liquids, and will not cause rashes or burns on your baby. If you find yourself needing to strip or bleach your diapers due to any of these issues, it is an indicator that they are not properly cleaned and you need to change your wash routine.
STANDARD TOP LOADING (non-HE):
1. Pre-Wash: Pre-wash cold or warm to ensure you are not trying to clean in soiled water with line 1 of detergent.
2. Wash: Heavy Duty wash with full amount of detergent (what the manufacturer suggests) and add any water softeners as necessary at this time. Select the wash cycle that will give you the hardest agitation for the longest time.
3. Rinse: Follow with 1-2 extra rinses
Drying your diapers.
Dry in the dryer on medium heat or hang dry. It's perfectly safe for the diaper to dry in the dryer. Hang drying outdoors will help minimize staining. Wool Dryer balls will help keep them soft and dry them faster too!
WARNING: Do not to stretch elastic while it's hot as it will relax it. Let your diapers cool before stuffing them.
If you hang dry, do so in a way that puts less stress on the elastics, as the weight of a heavy wet diaper pulling them down can prematurely relax them (especially if drying in the heat.) Hanging by the middle or by the sides will help relieve the elastics from the full weight of the wet diaper. If your diapers feel stiff after hanging to dry, you can throw them in the dryer for 10-15 minutes to fluff them (wool dryer balls will help with this process).
DO NOT USE fabric softeners: This can cause repelling among other issues with your diapers. However, if a dryer sheet accidentally makes its way into a load of diapers, don't be alarmed. A single exposure to synthetic fabric softener or a dryer sheet will not ruin your diapers. Test an insert to see if it will properly absorb (if it's synthetic, just press your hand down on it and let the water run through.) If there is repelling, simply wash the diapers again with a hot wash and detergent.
Use cloth diaper safe detergents and rash creams. Using an oxygen booster and/or water softener can help solve problems with hard water.
Make sure your rash creams are also safe for cloth diapers. Using ointments with petroleum, wax or zinc can cause your diapers to repel.
HE MACHINE WASHING:
HE machines perform the best when 2/3-3/4 full. This offers the proper agitation needed. If you do not have enough diapers, you may add any other items to help bulk up the load (towels, etc.).
#1 Prewash (First Cycle): This wash cycle is typically insufficient. The reason being is that in many machines it does not spin prior to moving on to the main wash. The spin is critical in a pre-wash! This removes the most of the poop and pee from the drum and allows the main wash to be done in much cleaner water.
What if my machine does not offer this cycle? Look for the shortest cycle your machine allows that will let you adjust the spin speed to high and the soil level to heavy.
#2 Main Wash
Here are a few options on most HE machines. Select one and make sure you’re your soil level is heavy and your water is hot. This is the stage in your wash that you ADD the detergent.
Heavy Duty: This is a great option as it offers extra agitation.
Whitest Whites: As long as this cycle does not use an extra hot temperature or as long as it will allow you to choose a different temperature setting this is a great cycle to use as it most often gives the most agitation. It is ok to wash your diapers on Hot, I would avoid Extra Hot as this will prematurely wear out fabrics, elastics and snaps.
Cotton/Normal: If you do not have a heavy duty or whitest whites option this is your next best bet. Just be sure to use the heavy soil function.
#3 Rinse: Add extra rinse cycle.
Spin: Always have this set to the highest possible setting. In the pre-wash it will remove more of the soil and in the main wash it will ensure that more of the detergent residue is removed and allows for a quicker dry time.
Soil: Set this to heavy as diapers are obviously heavily soiled.
More water/Extra water/Water plus: Do not use these buttons when washing diapers. It will not allow the machine to properly agitate which is crucial for diaper washing.