Saturday, January 11, 2020

cloth diapers: wash routine

"ewwww. how do you wash the poop off?"

answer: "there's a special wash routine to properly agitate and remove all the fecal matter. duh!"

haha, all the responses I get when I share that I am cloth diapering my baby are either a long sigh of the other person's exhaustion with even the thought of participating in such a task. As if they are so tired even thinking of all the 
"work" that must go into it. Or I am applauded by my efforts and others are excited to learn more on why I chose to and think it's the coolest thing ever. I hope you are the latter and are here because you're curious or maybe you're currently doing it and need help. I hope I can be that! A good wash routine can be game-changer as far as people who make it with cloth diapering or not. It can totally change how someone shares their experience with you but I promise once you nail down the perfect wash routine it's so easy from there. If you do struggle at first, don't give up. Anything new comes with a learning curb. Consider this a huge mental exercise for your brain. God knows us mamas need it when we are hyper focused on kids all of the time. I loved how this challenged me in a new way to learn how to master something completely new. Let's get started! I'm, going to share everything from start to finish with you...if you want to jump straight to the wash routine then scroll all the way down.

I'm rooting for you mama, you CAN do this!

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trash can with liner and lots of airflow
it's important to have enough airflow so your diapers don't smell and can "air out"

my utility sink setup with sprayer 
and I always leave my gloves draped over the sink or my trash can 

it's important to choose Tide's free & gentle POWDER
if you're following my routine. they have so many names of detergents and it can get confusing. Walmart is the only place I have found that sells it locally at a good price. If you're not by one or prefer to order online. I have linked that below.

always strive for 1/2 or 2/3 full for proper agitation
I personally like it to be 1/2 full and not much more. I find I get the best wash this way.

first wash cycle setting + detergent amount

second wash cycle settings + detergent amount

did you know powder detergent works best
 for proper washing of cloth diapers?

my diapers hang drying

a few notes

why do we need to wash twice?

When washing fecal matter it's important to properly wash all of the poop and pee away to avoid any ammonia smell when baby pees and also ammonia burns. That's why it's important to have enzymes from the detergent and also enough hot water to shake and disinfect the fecal matter away from the fibers and off of your diapers. That's why they need to be washed at least twice. The first cycle is meant to loosen the stool and pee off of the diaper. The second cycle disinfects, cleans and gets deep into the fibers to remove all fecal matter. There is also the extra rinse that I select on the second wash cycle and that is to rinse all of the detergent away from the diapers. 

normal cycle vs heavy duty cycle

I have played around with selecting a normal cycle vs the heavy duty cycle and I like doing both loads on heavy duty. The difference is that the normal cycle is going to use less water than the heavy duty cycle. I like more water to help the diapers glide across each other better. There needs to be enough agitation between the diapers so they can rub against each other and remove/loosen everything up. You can try selecting normal cycle during that first cycle to create more friction if your load is not quite 1/2 full or even see if the first cycle on normal works best for you.


I dry all of my inserts twice and that's because I have quite a few hemp inserts which take longer to dry and that's also because they are very absorbent. Microfiber inserts dry very quickly and should take one dry cycle. 

I hang dry ALL of my PUL diapers, the wet bags and the liner because the heat from the dryer can make the lining less water resistant some say so I just do it so my diapers last longer. I have seen some mamas who dry everything and if that makes or breaks you being a cloth diapering mama than by all means, dry everything together!! 

questions + answers

how often do I wash?
I like to wash twice a week, Wednesday and Sunday. You can get away with once a week though. I don't have a ton of diapers. Probably under 50 all together so it forces me to not have a collection of stinky diapers. 

did I wash my brand new diapers?
YES! This is a must because it "activates" the fibers to absorb. I only have 6 brand new diapers in my collection but I washed those about 4 times with a couple of extra rinse cycles so the water could really get those fibers ready to absorb all the poop and pee. 

how did I wash my gently used diapers?
soak in hot water with 1 tbsp of bleach to 1 gallon of water for 30-45 minutes. Careful to not let these sit longer otherwise the bleach will eat away at the fibers and PUL. Then wash 2 times with hot water and make sure you can not smell any of the bleach in the wash tub after that last wash. If you can still smell it then wash again. Repeat until there is not any smell of bleach.


barnyard smell: this may happen after you've let baby sit in their funk too long or after the diapers have sat in the hamper, or after baby has first woken up after sleeping in their diapers all night long.

ammonia smell: this shouldn't happen after a 2-3 hours change. this might mean you aren't properly washing out all of the detergent. you might have mineral build up.

ammonia burns: NOT GOOD! just like rashes happen with disposables this is red flag for something in your wash routine. if this does happen, let babies butt air out and dry up a bit. coconut oil can help soothe it, a cold wash rag or in worse case scenario diaper rash cream.

rashes: they don't happen that often with cloth diapers if you change them regularly, just like disposables. Airing out babies bottom or coconut oil will help. sometimes after removing cloth diapers there is redness simply from the fabric being pressed up against the skin. It should go away quickly, if not, baby may have a rash.

blowouts: we experience little to no blowouts with our cloth diapers. When the diaper is snug on babies legs and the fit is done the correct way, blowouts are almost a never. When baby is in a carseat or the bouncer though I have experienced some blowouts. 

diaper rash cream: you aren't supposed to use diaper rash cream on the diapers, if you do I suggest using a half folded bamboo liner which helps less of the cream get on the fabric. If you do get diaper rash cream on the fabric try using dawn dish soap. It removes everything (kidding) but it works well at getting it off. 

biodegradable bamboo liners: wash these in the washer and then throw them out if you're able to. we don't want fecal matter in our land fills but our water facilities see these liners and will throw them into the trash anyway. Let's do the right thing and wash away the fecal matter, it's no less work and if we can throw things in the proper receptacles than we are all better off.

my wash routine
Wednesday + Sunday

first wash cycle

cycle: heavy duty 
water temp: hot 
spin: high
soil: heavy

second wash cycle

cycle: heavy duty
water temp: hot
spin: high
soil: heavy 
extra rinse


select manual and turn the time up as much as you can 

I hang dry any material that has PUL - diapers, wet bags and the liner.

*if my wash routine changes I will post a new
 blog post on it or I will update this one.

check out my other cloth diaper posts:

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