So now that we’ve covered why people cloth diaper in the first place and the different kinds of cloth diapers, what happens when you are actually cloth diapering? Today we work out how to wash, care, and manage daily use of cloth diapers. Let’s do this by going through the motions of a typical cycle of using and washing cloth diapers:
Changing and Storing:
It’s time for the baby to be changed…again. The soiled diapers are taken off the baby and put into a wet bag. These are basically bags made of the same material as a diaper cover, so that they are waterproof and will not leak. Some people buy large bags to line a trash can. I use a bag with handles by Planetwise (I like the handles because I am able to use those to carry and empty the bag). Diaper covers can either be reused or thrown right into the wet bag with the diaper. I have seen that there are people who use wet pails to store dirty diapers before washing. These are basically buckets filled with water that allow the diaper to soak before washing. Personally, I really don’t think presoaking is all that necessary. Also, having a bucket filled with water and dirty diapers is pretty gross and both a sanitary and safety hazard, particularly if there are small children and pets around. The wet bags go right into the wash with the diapers, so everything stays nice and clean. I own two hanging wet bags so that when one is in the wash, I have another to use. Cloth wipes also go right into the wet bag.
Wipes and Solutions:
Some people use disposable wipes, but using cloth is honestly way easier since it all goes right into the wet bag (as opposed to separating between a trash and a wet bag). Plus, disposable wipes are soaked in all kinds of chemicals and fragrances (most are carcinogenic, allergenic, and/or hormone disrupting) that are irritating to baby’s skin.
When you use cloth wipes, there are tons of different solutions you can add to make them wet and cleaning efficient. Most of the time, I use plain water. I just keep a bottle of water with my wipes and squirt one down. This avoids the mold problem that sometimes arises when storing cloth wipes in water. If it’s an especially dirty bottom I need to clean, I have two solutions in spray bottles that I spray directly onto the wipe: 1. half water and half witch hazel and 2. 3/4 water with 1/4 California Baby Diaper Area Wash. I have also seen tons of recipes out there that basically consist of water, an oil, castile soap, and either tea tree oil or lavender oil. It really depends on personal preference and baby’s skin sensitivity. Also, if you are battling yeast rash, different solution recipes are out there to help.
Washing and Drying:
The wet bag is full and clean diapers are running low… it’s time to wash! Out of all the research I did on cloth diapers, this seemed to be the most daunting. I can only use certain detergents? On which cycle? What? But it turned out to be a fairly smooth process.
Your washing routine will depend on the type of diaper that you use. For just prefolds, washing with whatever detergent you have is fine; prefolds are pretty darn hard to screw up in the wash. But anything with microfiber requires detergent, ointments, and wipes solutions that are cloth diaper friendly. For example, petroleum jelly will make microfiber repel moisture. Oh and also, the “sanitary” cycle option is totally not necessary and will probably ruin anything with a waterproof layer. Wool cannot be washed with your diapers but instead needs to be hand washed. If they need lanolin, I just use the kind meant for nipples. Anyways, here seems to be the most recommended routine:
-Put all diapers, covers, and bags into the machine. run a COLD rinse with no detergent
-Now add detergent and run a HOT cycle (I use the bulky option)
-Optional: an additional COLD rinse and drain
-Dry prefolds and wipes on hot (I use the bulky option again)
-Everything else needs to either be dried on a lower setting or air dried to preserve the waterproof layer
Next time: Cloth diapering a newborn and other FAQs!