Friday, April 20, 2012

Caring for Your Cloth

The aspect of cloth that many people find most daunting: washing.

It's really not that complicated, but first things first. Let's talk about prepping.

If you buy a new diaper, it will need to be prepped. This is the process used to remove oils and anything else that may be on the diaper that would repel liquid and therefore cause a leak.

There are a couple of different ways to prep new diapers depending on what they are and how much effort you want to put in.

Boiling Prep

That's right. One of the easiest ways to prep your diapers is to cook them. This will only work on diapers that do not have the waterproof polyurethane laminate (PUL) or plastic snaps. This means mostly flats, prefolds, and inserts. Basically, you bring a large pot of water to a boil, add a drop of dish detergent, add the prefolds, and boil for 10-30 minutes, stirring occasionally. After that, remove with tongs and put them through a wash cycle, dry, and done!

There's a nice picture tutorial here: Boiling Prefolds

Wash/Dry Prep

This method isn't a problem either. Simply run the diapers through 3-5 wash and dry cycles. If your diaper has PUL, you may need to run it through a hot dryer cycle to seal the laminate. Many diapers aren't  at their maximum absorbency until their tenth wash! If I just have one new diaper, I just keep tossing it in with the rest of my diaper wash a few times before I use it rather than prep it alone.

Cleaning Diapers

The cleaning process is not at all complicated as some people worry. It's just four or five steps. If your baby still has those mostly liquid, breastfed poops, just toss the whole thing in your wetbag. If your baby has firmer, solid food poops you can invest in a diaper sprayer that attaches to your toilet or just dunk the diaper and swirl it around a little. If both of those make you squeamish, you can get disposable liners that just lift out and get flushed.

Once you're ready to wash, just empty the wet bag into the machine, then toss it in too. Run a cold rinse cycle, then wash on hot. You can buy special cloth diaper soap like Rockin' Green or you can use a conventional free and clear detergent. A lot of people use Tide. We use Seventh Generation since that's what we use for our laundry anyway. Just use about half the amount you would use normally in that case. Finally, run one more warm rinse.

There are a few options to dry. Line drying is great because the sun acts as a natural bleach to get out any stains. Plus you're not using the energy of the dryer. If you do use a dryer, dry anything with PUL on low heat. Some items, like thick fitteds for example, may need an extra half cycle.

Remember, you can get diaper detergent and a ton of other eco-friendly parenting supplies at EcoMom for the special MamaSource deal of $20 for $40 worth of goods!


Sometimes a good wash just can't get rid of the funk. This is when you need to strip. I could write out all the information, but a really good break down can be found on Zany Zebra

A Challenge

Speaking of washing diapers, apparently diapers have been in the news lately because some families find that they can't afford disposables for their babies, so they are actually reusing disposables. In order to show the world that there is a better solution Dirty Diaper Laundry is hosting their Second Annual Flats and Handwashing Challenge. Basically, you commit to using only flats and hand washing them for a week. It's an inexpensive solution!

The Great Cloth Diaper Change

Finally, don't forget tomorrow is The Great Cloth Diaper Change! Let's set a new world record for the most cloth diaper changes at once. If you're in the Tampa Bay area, we hope to see you at Great Explorations for the change and the Baby Expo that follows! There's more info on their Facebook page.

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