Washing Cloth Diapers 101: How to care for these reusables

All you need guide on how to clean cloth diapers for next use

By Aey
Washing Cloth Diapers 101: How to care for these reusables

Washing cloth diapers can be a pain for new mothers and caretakers because let’s face it, no one likes cleaning up poop (there, we said it). However, there are some simple steps that you can take to make washing diapers easy for you.

The first thing you do when you have a soiled or semi soiled diaper is to clean away the poop. Wash away the soiled bit of the diaper with running water and once it’s visibly clean let it drip dry. Keeping it wet will reduce the chances of stains when you wash it properly. Keep the dirty diapers in a dry bucket until you have to wash them. It is best not to load up on too many diapers - clean them up every other day.

Try and clean not more than 12 - 15 diapers at a time. Use the highest water level to wash the diapers and a high tide cycle to get the best results. It is best to use detergents that are specifically for baby clothes so the fabric remains soft and reusable for your baby. You can use bleach and vinegar while rinsing diapers if you are worried about stains ruining the diaper or bad smells.

What are reusable cloth diapers

A reusable cloth diaper is a baby diaper that’s made of synthetic material or natural fibre or a combo of both. As the name suggests, the diaper is made so that it can be reused after cleaning. 

When we talk about reusable diapers, the first thing that came to mind is white napkin style diapers made into a makeshift diaper with safety pins. While this may be what we used for diapers back in the day, today's reusable cloth diapers are not like that at all. Moms now have a variety of choices in the reusable diaper market if they are looking for eco-friendly options for their baby’s diapers. A safe and friendly option that reduces chances of rashes and yet, cozy and comfortable for babies as well. Affordability of reusable diapers is also one of the major factors why moms these days opt for it as compared to disposable diapers. There are different types of reusable diapers in the market such as:

1. All-in-one cloth diapers

They come with a soaking pad with a waterproof cover so you can take it off just as a disposable diaper and put it in the wash bin.

2. All-in-two cloth diaper

This is very similar to the all-in-one diaper except here you can remove the soaker pad giving you options for heavy wetter.

3. Pre-fold cloth diapers

Pre-fold diapers are the most affordable ones because it’s mainly a large rectangular cotton fabric that’s folded to adjust to baby’s shape and a cover is used to secure it in place. The video will further clarify what it really is.

4. Fitted cloth diaper

Fitted diapers are also called fitteds because how conveniently it fits the baby. It is similar to the shape and size of usual disposable diapers with the edge being the wide range of absorbing material to choose from. As the diapers aren’t waterproof, diaper covers are a must. The video linked will give you more insight on this kind!

5. Pocket cloth diapers

Pocket diapers are an amazing option for babies as it basically comes as like diaper cover but with a twist, a pocket! The pocket is an opening where you can insert any absorbing cloth. When the baby is done, the pocket diaper and the absorbing clothes are separated and both of them are cleaned/washed.

6. Hybrid cloth diapers

These diapers are very similar to All-in-two diapers but give more choice. Along with reusable cloth, the diaper can also be inserted with disposable filling.

Washing by hand

There are certain steps you can take to wash cloth diapers by hand. First it is essential you have all the materials needed to wash the diapers. Get a pair of rubber gloves, a fabric scrub brush, some detergent, buckets and a bathtub (if you have one in the house or a large bucket would do).

Step 1

The first thing to do is get your gloves on presoak soiled diapers and add a bit of detergent in. Take out the soaking pads, inserts, pre-folds and all laminated items let them soak in the water for at least 10 minutes. Make sure the water is warm.

Step 2

Once the solid waste is off the diaper, fill your bathtub or bucket half full with warm water and add one-fourth of the detergent quantity recommended for that much water. Soak all the diaper in for another 10 minutes and make sure the diapers are completely covered in water.

Step 3

Use hand movement to do agitate the water and plunge the diapers in and out of the water. You may use the fabric brush to gently brush stained areas.

Step 4

Remove all excess water and add new water to get rid of all leftover detergent in the diapers. Once your water is clear that means there is no extra detergent left.

Step 5

Drain the tub and hand dry the diapers by gently squeezing the excess water. Leave in the sun to dry completely.

Washing in a front loader of a washing machine

Step 1

Make sure you store dirty diapers in a wet bag before you wash them in a front loader of a washing machine. For this, you must rinse away the soiled diaper as soon as you remove it and store it wet in the wet bag before washing it in the machine.

Step 2

Start off by putting all diapers inserts and wet bag in a machine along with two large towels so it increases the weight in the machine and maximum water is used. Use the gentle cycle and make sure you use cold water for this cycle.

Step 3

Do not use any detergent in this cycle. Once the cycle is complete. Drain away the water and remove the towels, re-soak them and put them back on the loader and start off with using hot water for a normal spin cycle.

Step 4

Once that is complete, add an extra cold spin and add detergent to this cycle. Make sure you use a cloth diaper safe detergent. You will know the diapers are clean when they no longer smell or have any residual stink. Dry the diapers according to manufacturing instructions.

Taking care of the covers

Washing and maintaining diaper covers is very important and one should be extra careful while cleaning wool or cotton diaper cover. While diaper cover may vary in material, they still need special attention while being washed. Typically diaper covers do not need to be washed daily and can be washed after three or four days.

If by chance the diaper cover gets spotted then its best to rinse that bit by hand rather than washing the entire cover. One of the major concerns while washing diaper covers is protecting the waterproofing material. If you soak the diaper cover for too long in water it can decrease the waterproofing ability of the diaper.

Certain products can damage the waterproofing as well as the material of the diaper cover such as bleach, fabric softeners, hard detergents, whiteners and therefore they should be minimally used while washing diaper covers.  Most diaper covers can be washed by hand or in the machine with your other diapers and do not require much care.

It is best to air dry such diaper covers as it may prolong their life. Woolen diaper covers, however, need to be hand washed in case they get soiled. Use a wool cleaner and soak it in water to clean the diaper cover and then air dry the cover.  In case a woolen diaper cover is just wet and not soiled then know that most woolen covers are anti-microbial and self-clean. Therefore they do not require washing and can just be air dried and reused.

Types of detergent

Source: http://clothmoms.com

Choosing the right detergent is very important while washing reusable diapers. You have to make sure that the detergent is not too hard that it would compromise the fabric of the diaper or damage it in any way. Your supermarket will have various options of detergent available that can be used to clean cloth diapers. Ideally, you should go for something that you have used before or works for you, which you think is best in protecting the fiber of the cloth. If a detergent does not work for you, you can always change it but it is best you opt for a mild detergent. Steer clear of fabric softeners because they have chemicals which can be sensitive on your baby’s skin. 

Some major detergents readily available and often used by most mothers include Original Powder Tide (do not use liquid tide, HE tide or any other version of Tide), Sensi clean, Allen’s naturally (best for babies with sensitive skin), Charlie’s soap (works for all qualities of diapers), Rockin clean, RNR laundry treatment (best for cleaning diapers on a regular basis), and country save are some of the top options available from the free and clear detergent range.

Conclusions on washing cloth diapers

In conclusion, washing cloth diapers are not as tough as it looks. It is actually easy and can be done by anyone. The important thing is to follow instructions and be careful about the products that you use to clean the cloth diaper. Making sure that the water is at the right temperature and the diaper is washed the right way. If you do not have the time to hand wash diapers then you can always get the type which can be washed in a washing machine. Once you familiarize with the steps required in washing cloth diapers it will become easier to maintain them.