Thursday, September 1, 2011

Cloth Diaper Week -Cleaning and Caring for Your Cloth Diapers

One of the most intimidating things about using cloth diapers is the cleaning involved.

Speaking from our six months or so of experience, it is really not that bad.  You'll probably end up doing two to three extra loads of laundry a week.  But with all the extra laundry babies create, you'll probably hardly even notice.   

Here are the basics of dealing with cleaning and caring for your cloth diapers:

Wet Pail vs. Dry Pail
With a dry pail set-up diapers are placed in a covered pail. With a wet-pail you fill the pail halfway with water and cover it. My impression is that nowadays most people, like us, use dry pails.  Wet pails can get messy and there's the risk of infant drowning.  With a dry pail you can shake off the dirty diaper into the toilet, dunk it if necessary, and then throw it into the dry pail.  If the smell becomes an issue, you can buy a carbon filter or sprinkle baking soda into the bottom of the pail. (Before putting baking soda onto your diapers, check the manufacturer's instructions to make sure it's okay.)

Diaper Creams
You cannot use the typical oil or zinc-based diaper creams if you are cloth diapering.  The same ingredients that cause these creams to protect your baby's skin by keeping the moisture away from it create a barrier on your diapers causing them to repel.  There are many "alternative" diaper creams available.  The organics section of our grocery store has about half a dozen.  If you can't find one in your grocery store, many are available online. 

Although you should always check the tag for care instructions, most cloth diapers and covers can be machine washed.  The main thing is to find a detergent that is cloth diaper safe.  That means the detergent is free from oils, enzymes, brighteners and fabric softeners.  If your detergent contains any of these additives they can build up on your diapers and cause them to smell or leak.  The only way to get rid of build up is to strip* your diapers.  Which, although sometimes necessary, is a bit of a tedious job.

We use Rockin' Green detergent and have been very happy with the results. 

Our hands-down favourite way to dry our cloth diapers is to hang them in the sun.  Sunshine works like magic at getting rid of stains.  However, if it's the middle of winter and hanging your diapers outside isn't going to happen, try hanging them inside on a drying rack. (Quick tip: Pointing a fan on them will help them dry quicker because of the air movement.)  There's also always the option of running your diapers through the dryer, although this can cause them to wear out more quickly.  Make sure not to use fabric softener when drying (or washing) your diapers as fabric softener will cause the diapers to repel liquid (that counts for your towels too).

Washing Wool Covers
You need to take extra care when washing and drying wool.  The best method is to use Eucalan Woolwash and warm water. Once a month you will have to lanolize your diapers so that they maintain their water-repelling properties.  The best way to dry wool covers is by rolling them in a towel and laying them flat to dry.

Stripping becomes necessary when your diapers start to smell funky and/or lose absorbancy, even after being washed.  This usually happens because they have built up detergent, creams, or minerals from your water.

Our method for stripping is to wash the diapers as usual and then rinse them with the hottest water possible until there are NO bubbles.  We strip our diapers in the tub or sink by filling it with hot water and then topping it up with boiling water.  You could also just use the hot cycle on your washing machine.  It may take three our four rinses for your diapers to be stripped.  You'll know your efforts paid off if your diapers are clean, odour-free, and absorbent after you've stripped them.  If not, repeat the process.  
Before stripping be sure to check the washing instructions for your diapers so you don't accidentally damage them. Some diapers should not be washed in very hot water.

Okay, so maybe that seems like a bit much to process, but it's actually really easy!

No comments:

Post a Comment