Thursday, August 17, 2017

Washing Cloth Diapers

I'd like to start off with the simple statement that 
Cloth Diapers are EASY to Wash!!

When I first started cloth diapering, and didn't have any friends with babies yet, I just jumped right in and washed them like I would wash a t-shirt or pair of pants!  Then I realized that the instructions of most cloth diapers called for a quick soak in cold water, and less detergent, and to fit less in your washer overall.  So, I followed these directions next for many years without any problems!  I didn't really know what I was doing, didn't use special detergents, and had a really really old washer and the only problem I ran into was a bit of stink in my pail now and then.  

Cloth diapers do require some bit of special care however. This is because the fabrics that are used in Diapers are quite a bit different than most clothes, and they are washed multiple times a week, in usually very hot water.  The PUL, Velcro, and Elastic need a bit of babying if you want them to stay in top condition and last a long time.  It's still much easier to care for them than the cloth diapers that were out when we were kids!  Most of our moms who used cloth, used only Prefolds and covers.  And maybe a few All-in-ones here and there.  Those covers could only be washed in warm, and could Never go in the dryer!  

Most Diapers, like your SoftBums Shells, or other pockets and covers are made with a waterproof material called PUL (poly urethane laminate), elastic, and velcro, and are actually fairly easy to care for overall! 
You will just want to avoid a few things like:

  • Soaking in any detergent or other Additives (hurts PUL and elastic)
  • Excessively High Heat, so NO Sanitize Cycle (hurts PUL, and also hurt Velcro)
  • NO vinegar (it's acidic and will eat your elastic and can cause rash on baby if not rinsed out well)
  • NO oxyclean (it's very harsh on diapers and can cause rash on baby)
  • No HIGH HEAT in Dryer (Hurts Velcro, and elastic and sometimes even PUL)

There are MANY different opinions about the best way to wash cloth diapers. Information good or bad, right or wrong is out there and can be confusing to new parents especially when battling stink or other issues. I believe this confusion is turning people away from cloth diapering. 

There are many variables at play when it comes  to washing your diapers. 

Machine type
There are different types of washing machines and each type of machine may require you to tweak your routine. It is helpful to trick some HE machines into using more water. (which is needed when washing cloth diapers) You can do this by adding water to your inserts to add extra weight to the drum and cause your machine to use extra water.

Water type
Mineral content in water varies geologically and will affect how you wash your cloth diapers. If you do not know your total water hardness you can purchase water quality test strips. If you have hard water you may need to use a water softer with your detergent (we recommend washing soda) 

All detergents are not formulated the same. Cloth detergents that have less fillers and may require less detergent where mainstream may require a little more. SoftBums recommends using 1/4 of the recommended amount.

Load size
It's important to learn what size load your washer washes best at. Generally it is 2/3 to 3/4 full. 

Synthetic fibers vs natural fibers. 

It is recommend to line dry when possible. The sun helps with stains and is a natural disinfectant. 
If you have to use the dry dry on low or medium. Drying on high heat can damage many parts of your cloth diapers.
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