Cloth Diaper Laundry – An Update

I’ve written about my laundry routine before with my cloth diapers but I wanted to give you an update…after all our routines change as our children continue to grow and our diapers get older. 

Let me first start by saying that what works for me may not work for you.  Why is that?  Let me first start by giving you some facts on me, my diapers, and our routine.

1. Lil’ B is 16 months old, still breastfed and eating solids regularly.  I tell you this because a wash routine of an infant is different from a toddler.

2.  Our stash is primarily BumGenius 3.0s (about 20) and about 10-15 mixed other brands that we’ve tried.  All are pockets, all-in-ones, or all-in-twos.  We’ve never used pre-folds.

3.  More info on our stash – most of them are microfiber, microfleece, or some other micro-combination.  We do have some bamboo, hemp, and cotton combo inserts as well. 

4.  We have an old-fashioned top loader washing machine.  We’re waiting for it to croak before we invest in a front loader (or HE).

5.  We live in Florida – where we live has incredibly HARD water and we do NOT have a water softener installed yet.  (Don’t ask – we like to procrastinate!)

6.  We wash every 3rd day usually. 

Detergents we’ve used:  We have tried a variety of detergents…more on my personal recommendations in a minute.

1.  Arm & Hammer Essentials (unscented-free): recommended as cloth diaper approved by several online resources

2.  EcoStoreUSA liquid detergent

3.  Eco Nuts (a natural soap nut): recommended for cloth diapers

4.  Rockin’ Green Classic (scented): cloth diaper specific WAHM brand

5.  Rockin’ Green HARD ROCK (scented): new formula specific for hard water

6.  Planet: recommended by BumGenius for hard water (and several online resources) *Note on Planet – Planet does contain Borax in the list of ingredients.

Extra’s we’ve used (at some point):

1.  Bleach

2.  Hydrogen Peroxide (Publix non-chlorine bleach and EcoStoreUSA Oxygenated Whitener)

3.  Calgon: recommended for hard water/it’s a water softener

4.  Bac-out: recommended for stink issues

5.  Borax: controversial; some resources recommend the use of Borax while others warn against the danger of using Borax

Yes – I know that sounds like a lot of stuff but we don’t use it all at the same time.  I’ve been pretty consistent with our routine but I’ve varied the detergents on occasion because we have a serious problem!  HARD WATER!  Because of the hard water we’ve experienced ammonia stink, staining, and the occasional rash.  The rash is caused from detergent residue left behind from the hard water.  The way it was explained to me was that the minerals in the water bind with the detergent and coat (or clog) the pores of the diaper. 

Since most of my stash is made up of BGs I decided to call their customer service and ask for their recommendations for my scenario.  Here is what they recommended: 1 cold wash with Planet detergent and Calgon, followed by one hot wash with Planet and Calgon, followed by an extra rinse.  They recommended that I increase my bleach to 3/4 cup (once a month) and dry in the sun.  I also contacted Kim with Rockin’ Green Soap since I was working with her on a few projects.  Kim recommended that I ROCK-THE-SOAK and follow it up with a wash and rinse (maybe 2 rinses just in case).  Kim also recommended that I use Calgon.  I also spoke with Rump•a•rooz®, read information provided to me by Diaper Shops, and spoke with Heather at the Real Diaper Association.  I mention all of these great ladies because they are the Experts in cloth diapers!

The reason I mention all of the different recommendations is to show you that everyone has their own ideas on what works well for them.  There really isn’t one routine, detergent, or additive that will work for everyone all the time.  I remember my hair dresser once told me that you should switch your shampoo regularly so that you can strip your hair of different chemicals…why shouldn’t that be true for detergents and laundry too.  I’ve actually found that switching my detergents regularly actually help keep the problems away. 

My current routine (and what’s on my laundry shelf):

1.  I TRY to rinse my diapers once I take them off Lil’ B – I do this to keep the bathroom ammonia smell away.  Now I’m a busy mom so this does NOT always happen!  Poops ALWAYS get rinsed (and we use flushable liners) but not always pees.
2.  Diapers sit in 1) an open bin in the bathroom or 2) a closed wet bag until laundry day.  Both are dry pail method. 
3.  On laundry day I place all of the diapers (about 15-20 should be max load size – sometimes we throw in a few more) into the wash and run a cold wash cycle with no detergent.  *Although sometimes I will use detergent IF I have stink issues.  I mention the load size because I found myself getting lazy and washing every 3-4 days – be sure you wash every 2-3 days and keep the load size down!!!  This will help with your smell and staining issues. 
4.  Next we run a Hot/Cold cycle with detergent and Calgon.  Currently I use either Rockin’ Green or Planet.  I only have a few loads of RNG left and I have a full box of Planet…I will probably use Planet next since it seems to be working well AT THE MOMENT! 
5.  Next we run a cold rinse…if I really have stink issues I’ll run a full cold wash/rinse and not just the rinse. 
6.  Dry! 
*Optional – bleach or non-chlorine bleach: I will use this about once a month on ALL of my diapers and inserts.  I will never include it in a soak.
*Optional – ROCK THE SOAK is done on my diapers about once a month as needed for stink and staining issues.  I will soak in RNG anywhere from 30 minutes to overnight depending on the severity of my problem.

Let’s talk about drying your diapers for just a minute!  I normally dry everything in the dryer because it’s usually 10pm when I finish my routine and the sun is not shining at night.  IF I wash early enough and can dry them outside I lay my diapers on a hammock so they can dry and get sun bleached.  The sun works WONDERFULLY on staining…but the old stubborn stains are stuck and won’t come out!  We have recently aquired some BuddhaBunz wool dryer balls; I add 2 dryer balls when I use the dryer.  The dryer balls reduce the length of time it takes for your laundry to dry.  It’s like adding a dry towel to a load of wrinkled clothes…it sucks the moisture out quicker. 

A note about enzymes:  Many manufacturers and retailers tell you NOT to use a detergent with enzymes.  The reason behind it is that detergents with enzymes have a greater risk of causing diaper rash in some babies.  There is actually some conflicting information on enzymes…some are actually telling people that the use of detergents with enzymers is RECOMMENDED to get your diapers really clean.  My recommendation on enzymes is to use what works best for you and your diapers.  If you have tried changing everything else in your routine…try to switch your detergent to one with enzymes and see if that solves your problem.  Only you will know how sensitive your babies skin is…if you have a super sensitive baby I would save this for the last possible change in your routine.           

My last piece of advice…trust your gut and keep things as simple as possible! 

What about you?  What variables are unique for you?  What conditions are the same?

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3 Responses to Cloth Diaper Laundry – An Update

  1. Hannah says:

    Great post! When you do use the oxygen bleach, where do you add it? I have used Baby Oxiclean in the pre-rinse and in the regular wash. I'm not really sure if I've noticed a difference. I'm afraid to try regular oxiclean because my oldest son had a reaction to it.

  2. The Eco Chic says:

    Hannah – great question. I don't have oxiclean – but I have used a store brand (Publix) non-chlorine bleach and EcoStoreUSAs whitener. I will add my oxygen bleach (or regular bleach) to my 1st hot wash cycle. I add it at the same time I add my detergent.

  3. Pingback: Seriously Considering Cloth Diapers | Sojourning Thru Life

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