Cloth Diaper Washing Routine

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Journey to Homemaker

After much research and trial and error, I've arrived at a routine that makes cloth diapering tolerable for me. I'm pretty lazy! :-) It will be better when I have enough diapers that I don't have to stress getting them washed and dried in time for the kids' bedtime every night.

I use Fuzzi Bunz for nighttime, which seem to work well with the microfiber inserts. I probably need two inserts at night, but don't have enough yet. I plan to try Happy Heinys as well, which are similar but have velcro-type closures instead of snaps. During the day I use prefolds in a diaper wrap. Right now I use the Proraps and some cheapo Gerber vinyl pants which I hate. The Proraps are good, except that when poop gets stuck in the gathers of the leg gussets, it's a PAIN to rinse out, plus one wrap got stained orange even though I rinsed the poop right off and washed it, and the kids hadn't eaten anything orange recently. I think eventually I'll go with all pocket diapers, they seem easier to deal with. If I do keep some wraps, I'll buy much better prefolds--chinese DSQ. I don't use diaper pins, I use Snappis, they're pretty good.

I line each diaper with a disposable Gerber diaper liner. This catches a lot of the poop and can be flushed--a big advantage when you're using cloth wipes! Unfortunately, my daughter has started pulling them out of her diaper when I put her to bed, and even if she doesn't, she moves around so much that they get twisted inside the diaper and don't do much good. Oh well! I make sure not to use a diaper cream that is fish-oil-based, because many diaper creams will create a build up of residue and make for stinky diapers. After a lot of research, I decided to use Aveeno cream, which is a good product anyway. I sometimes use cornstarch baby powder too, which I haven't heard causes any buildup problems.

For a diaper changing station, I didn't want the traditional changing table. My kids would just get into all the stuff, plus it's in the dining area off the kitchen, so I wanted it to blend in more. I bought a short cabinet with an upper drawer and two lower cabinet doors from Target, on clearance for $50 (a great deal). It looks pretty good. I use a changing table pad on it, plus a baby quilt and a waterproof pad on top of that. The cabinet is longer than most changing tables, so it's more comfortable for the kids. All the diapers are in the cabinet, while the creams, powders, Snappis, and diaper liners are within easy reach in the drawer. Next to the cabinet on the floor I keep a five gallon bucket with the lid laying loosely on top. This is for the dirty diapers. I use the dry pail method (if I used the wet pail method, I'd have to use a pail with a locking lid for safety). I put the wet diapers in this pail. I also keep a covered trash can next to the cabinet for the occasional use of a disposable wipe or diaper.

When there is a poopy diaper, I bring the dirty diaper and the diaper pail down to the bathroom. There is a second empty 5 gallon bucket down there for rinsing. I use a Mini Shower, a sprayer that attaches to the toilet supply line for rinsing poopy diapers off into the toilet. No swishing for me! However, I found I was getting water ricocheting off the toilet and diaper and getting everywhere, so I now use the rinse bucket, I hold the cleaner edge of the poopy diaper over the edge of the rinse bucket, and rinse the poop off into the bucket using the Mini Shower. In between diapers I like to empty the bucket into the toilet, to keep the water level low in the bucket. After rinsing each poopy diaper, I put it into the dirty diaper pail. When done, I either take the bucket back upstairs to the changing area, or go straight to the laundry room if I'm ready to wash diapers.

I wash diapers every day right now. That's a necessity, since I don't have many diapers and have two kids in them. My oldest who is almost four, sometimes wears them, or he wears underwear, or disposables. Whatever is on hand. Right now he doesn't wet himself too often. I'll probably continue to do a load every day even when I have more diapers, but it will be nice to do it out of preference rather than a need.

I run a little hot water with a little washing soda in it, then switch it to cold almost right away. The hot is just to dissolve the washing soda. You don't want to do an initial rinse or wash with hot, it will set the poop stains. Some people wash the diapers twice, but I do a rinse cycle on cold, then add detergent and do a wash on hot. Some people do another rinse cycle with a little white vinegar afterwards, I don't unless I think it's necessary.

After the rinse cycle, I add detergent (many websites recommend using only half the recommended amount of detergent, others say even that is too much, use only 1-2 tablespoons). The amount of diapers I wash is so small that I find I need to add some clothing to get enough agitation for the diapers to get clean. So I usually throw in the pajamas or sweat pants that have been peed on and are light to medium in color.

The detergent I use is Sun. I've heard Allen's Naturally is great for pocket diapers (pockets are a little trickier to clean) but I don't use that, it's too expensive. I found a site that compares detergents for diaper washing, they said Sun was a good choice. You don't want to use a laundry soap, that will build up on diapers. It must be a detergent, and shouldn't have dyes, softeners, fragrances, or optical brighteners. Some children have reactions to these ingredients. NEVER use a softener or detergent with softeners, as the softeners reduce the absorbency of the diapers. Sun is cheap and I'm having good luck with it. I use my homemade laundry soap on our regular clothes, it seems to be working okay.

After washing, I check the diapers for stains or smell before drying. It's best to dry wraps and covers by air, because this lengthens the life of the covers. However, due to necessity I usually dry them in the machine, on low, with the clothing they were washed in. Double check the microfiber inserts. They are so plush and hold so much liquid, that they are often still slightly damp when the other stuff is dry. But they're so absorbent, they work great!

For the cloth wipes, I pretty much treat them as I do the diapers. I use them in a wipes box with a solution of 2 cups warm water, 2-3 drops of tea tree oil, 2-3 drops of lavender, and 1 tablespoon of olive oil, swished around, then add folded cloth wipes. The tea tree oil helps them last longer. Without it, they'd probably go rancid in a couple of days. I wouldn't keep them longer than a week. So don't make up more than you'll use in about 5 days, otherwise you're wasting the wipes solution and just having to re-wash them without having even used them. I didn't think I'd like using cloth wipes, but I do. I often use wipes to clean faces and high chair trays, so not only is this saving me money, but I feel better using natural things on my kids' faces and hands. I don't buy wipes, I think that's a waste. I use old baby wash cloths that I got at garage sales, and cut up old receiving blankets. You could use regular wash cloths or cut up old towels too, but I find the old baby washcloths work pretty well, and are the right size.

So, that's my routine. It's a lot better than when I tried cloth diapers the first two times. I would say that having the right diapers and tools are essential to sticking with it. And if you do a lot of research and find what works for you, and give yourself time to practice and get used to it, it gets easier. I figure when the new baby is born, I'll be saving my family $80-100 a month, and that's based on the lowest possible prices on diapers (buying the White Cloud brand at Walmart by the super-size box). If you use pampers, you'll be saving at least twice as much as we are. Plus you'll save even more if you dry your diapers in the sun, which sanitizes and bleaches out stains the natural way. And if you like softer diapers, you can just throw them in the dryer after they've been sun dried for five minutes for a fluff-up.

All in all, it's not too bad, and I can think of a few things I'd like to do with that hundred dollars a month we save! ;-)

2 Responses to "Cloth Diaper Washing Routine"

me :) Says :
8:45 PM

I just found your blog - LOVE IT!! I admire your desire to change and become the woman God has called you to be. I have 2 kids and am a reformed tomboy, LOL!! I am working on it too! I hope to keep reading your posts - they are great!!

Mommaroo2 Says :
6:55 PM

Thanks! I can always use encouraging words. It seems like I'm always taking one step forward and two steps back. Undoing years of brainwashing by the media and society is a lot of work! And I was never a feminist or anything. I can't imagine how hard homemaking would be if I had to overcome that! I'm glad you like my blog, I hope it helps you--it helps me, by just having some kind of "accountability". :-)

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