When it comes to using a cloth diaper on your baby, nothing is too good for him or her. If you do decide to use cloth diapers and use them more than once, you will need to know how to wash and dry them properly. Properly washing and drying your cloth diapers will sustain the life of them. Here are some tips to keep in mind and things to avoid when learning how to clean cloth diapers properly.
Read the Manufacturer’s Label First
The very first thing you need to do before washing and drying your baby’s cloth diapers is to read the manufacturing label on them. Some of these types of diapers come with special instructions. For example, some may need to be hand washed and hung to dry to clean them properly, such as wool cloth diapers.
Wash Brand New Cloth Diapers Before First Use
After reading the manufacturer’s label, you should wash your cloth diapers once before you use them as soon as you get them for your baby. By doing this, you can increase their absorbency.
Prepare Dirty Cloth Diapers to be Washed
Although you can take your dirty cloth diapers right from your diaper pail or wet bag and throw them in the washer, there are some things you should do to prepare them for washing first to get the best results.
- Spray the baby poop off with your mini shower or kitchen sink spray nozzle
- Soak the very stained diapers for a couple of hours first. However, as always, read the label before doing this because some cloth diapers should never be soaked first.
Should You Use a Diaper Pail or Not?
You can use a pail to keep your dirty cloth diapers in. However, doing this means the bucket is usually filled to the top with water. It is not recommended to use a diaper pail for two reasons. One reason is that your child could drown in this water, and the other reason is that cloth diapers shouldn’t soak in water for more than a few hours because it can cause the stains to remain.
If you do decide to use a pail for your dirty cloth diapers, once you throw them in there, drain the excess liquid thoroughly to keep the two main problems listed above from happening
More Tips for Preparing Your Cloth Diapers for Washing
- When spraying your dirty diapers, before washing them, keep them wet enough to where they are almost dripping. This can help remove stains better.
- Wash them every day or every other day
- Do not wash more than 12 to 18 diapers at a time
- Use the washer’s highest level for water
- Put them on pre-rinse with no detergent and cold water only
- When washing them, use your regular hot water cycle and wash them in Tide.
- Avoid fabric softeners and bleach. Although, it is recommended to use about a quarter of a cup of bleach about once per month with your regular wash. However, you should use bleach if your baby has a yeast diaper rash and you need to get rid of it. For this reason and the ¼ cup once per month, should be the only time you use bleach because not only can it irritate your baby’s skin, but it can also break down the fibers in the cloth diapers and shorten their lifespan.
- Dry the diapers on regular heat in your dryer, or you can also hang them up to dry. Again, read the label on the diaper before drying them to ensure there are no special instructions.
Products You Can Use When Washing Dirty Cloth Diapers
- You should use a detergent that does not contain any dyes or fragrances in it. Your detergent should not contain any enzymes or other additives either
- Add about one half of a cup of baking soda to the washer, per load to help get rid of odors
- You can also add one cup of white vinegar per load instead of baking soda to help eliminate odors and even soften the cloth diapers up. Again, read the label to make sure you can do this
- You may need to experiment with your detergent if you find the diapers are not getting clean enough or if there is detergent build-up on them
Products to Avoid When Cleaning Cloth Diapers
- Do not use any soap or dishwashing liquid to wash your cloth diapers because they can strip away the fibers in them and shorten their usage
- No fabric softeners of any kind when washing cloth diapers
- No bleach unless you are fighting an infection, such as a yeast diaper rash
Washing the Cloth Diapers
Now that you know the things you can use and what to avoid when washing your baby’s cloth diapers, you are ready to clean them. Make sure to wash them in a whole separate load from the rest of your laundry. You can clean the cloth diapers with the diaper covers unless the label says differently. Again, read the label before washing them.
Avoid Overloading the Washer
Try not to overload your washer with them. If you do, not only will the diapers not get as clean as they should, but the friction that will happen between them will cause the cloth to pill. For many washing machines, this means washing no more than two dozen diapers at a time.
Pre-Wash in Cold Water
Start out washing them in a pre-wash cycle in cold water, then switch it to regular wash in hot water after checking the label, of course, and follow up with a rinse. Make sure the diapers get rinsed well. Rinse them twice if you have to.
Wash Cloth Diapers in Hot Water
Although you should check the label to find out what the water temperature of your washer should be before washing, you should wash cotton cloth diapers in hot water. However, be careful with this as well because some diapers and their covers that come with a waterproof outer covering may deteriorate in hot water, especially if it is scorching. If your water heater is set at its hottest, please be careful with this because hot water this hot is not recommended for a house with children in it.
Check Your Cloth Diapers for Cleanliness and Freshness
After taking the diapers out of your washer, they should smell clean and fresh. If they don’t, either retire them or rewash them. If they smell like dirty diapers still, this could mean bacteria is building up, and they may need to be rewashed. Using cloth diapers that aren’t completely clean can irritate your baby’s skin.
Drying Cloth Diapers
Before throwing them in the dryer, reread the label to make sure there are no special instructions for drying them. Also, before drying the cloth diapers, make sure to fasten any velcro fasteners. By doing this, you can avoid them linking together or damaging the diapers.
Although drying some cloth diapers in the dryer is alright, some cannot handle the hot temperature so be sure to read the label.
Dry in the Dryer or to Hang on the Line?
You can also alternate and dry your cloth diapers partly in the dryer and the rest of the way by hanging them outside or somewhere in the house. Or, you could hang dry them all the way. Sometimes, hang drying can be better, especially outside in the sun, because the sun can whiten them more for you. Not only this but hanging them outside to dry is a cheap and convenient way to get them to dry thoroughly.
If hanging them outside in the sun and they stiffen, you can fix this by throwing them in the dryer for a few minutes to soften them up a bit. The best times to hang dry cloth diapers outside is early in the morning or later in the afternoon when it is breezy. Hanging them indoors can help keep them from getting stiff also.
When You Should Wash and Dry Cloth Diapers
Although you should find a washing and drying schedule that works best for you, many parents find that washing cloth diapers every other day works well for them. Not only can this keep you in clean diapers all the time and keep you from having to wash them on a daily basis, but it will also keep the smell down since leaving cloth diapers that are dirty lay in the pail or wet bag for more than a couple of days can cause them to start stinking.
How Many Loads Should You Wash Per Day
The number of loads you will need, depending on if you wash about 24 diapers at a time, will depend on how often your baby goes through their diapers every day. However, here is more information to ensure you always have clean diapers on hand.
- Newborns: One to two loads per day, about 12 to 18 diapers every day. (This is if you wash every other day)
- Six to 18 months of age: 12 diapers per day, one load per day if you are washing every other day.
- Non-Potty Trained Toddlers, 18 months and up: Nine diapers every day, one load every day if you wash every other day.
- Toddlers Undergoing Potty Training: Three to six diapers every day and one load if you are washing every other day.
Now you know what to use, what to avoid, how to prepare your cloth diapers for washing and drying, you are now ready to be a cloth diaper expert! Best of luck as you try your best to keep your baby or toddler in clean diapers!
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