5 (New) Tips for Washing Diapers!
Cloth diaper washing methods can vary just as much as the number of different diapering brands that are available. How do you know exactly which advice to believe and which advice will damage your diapers? Below are 5 practical tips that will help ease your laundry anxiety and save your stash.
1. Pre-rinse to prevent stink and stains! Take an extra minute when you are changing your babies diaper and pre-rinse your diapers before placing them in your diaper pail or wet bag. This can be done in a sink, tub, toilet, or even with a hose outside. Pre-rinsing your diapers will prevent the urine from converting to ammonia (causing that pungent stink you smell on laundry day) and will also help prevent stains from setting.
2. Warm is the new cold! Most brands recommend a cold rinse prior to the first wash cycle but did you know that brands are now recommending a warm rinse cycle? Why? Because bodily fluids are most soluble at body temperature (source: Bummis). It’s never recommended to do the first rinse in hot water because hot water will actually set any stains and make them harder to remove. This is a fairly new industry standard so diaper packaging may not reflect this change for a while.
3. Segregate the fabrics! It’s actually recommended to wash synthetic fabrics in a different load from natural fabrics to extend
the life of your cloth diapers. Fabrics like organic cotton and hemp are very rough fabrics and can prematurely damage PUL, elastic, Velcro, and snaps. A simple way to segregate if you have a blended stash is to wash your covers and shells in one load and your inserts in a second load. Microfiber inserts are more tolerant and can go with either load.
4. Know your load size! While capacity varies on all machines there is a science to determine how many diapers make up your idea load size. Too few diapers and there aren’t enough diapers to rub against one another to get clean. Too many diapers and the diapers aren’t able to agitate enough. The industry standard recommendation is between 15-25 diapers (and inserts) per load. If you don’t have enough diapers for a single load consider washing with towels, sheets, or whites (socks and undies).
5. Beware of the “Sanitize” cycle! The newer machines (mostly HE machines) are now coming with a sanitize cycle. While heat is ideal for killing germs and odors you need to use caution with your PUL and elastic; they don’t tolerate high heats well. Using these wash cycles on your diaper covers or shells can cause them to delaminate and weaken. Inserts however are a little more heat tolerant. Maximum heat for most PUL and elastic are between 120-140F. The safe setting for hot water heaters is 100-120F.
Just remember that everyone has different washing conditions (water, diaper type, detergent, machines, etc) and that there really isn’t just one ‘right’ way to wash diapers. Every brand has their own recommendations too. While laundry advice may be overwhelming and confusing my best advice is to K.I.S.S. (keep it simple and smart).
About the author: Calley Pate is a 30-something wife and mom of 2 with a love for the environment and passion for cloth diapers and all things related to natural parenting. Calley is a Biologist turned Social Media & Marketing addict who enjoys spending all day online talking about diaper and gets to call it work. Calley is the author of The Eco Chic blog and works behind the scenes with many of your favorite cloth diapering companies including DiaperShops.com, Kelly’s Closet, itti bitti diapers, and the new ones&twos.