Thursday, January 13, 2011

Cloth Diaper Q&A #3 - How do you wash your diapers?

Have you already read and commented on Q&A #1 and Q&A #2?

Q&A #3 - What is your wash routine and what type of detergent do you use?
I won't lie.

Laundry might seriously kill me one day.

I actually like washing cloth diapers!

The 3 cycles seem intimidating at first.

But like Stella, you will get your groove.
I promise.

1. cold rinse - The length of the first rinse cycle depends on how many diapers I am washing.  With 2 kids in diapers, it usually means a pretty full load and I will use the "delicate" cycle as my first rinse.

2. hot wash with detergent - I use the "whites" cycle since it is the longest cycle on my old-fashioned top loader.

3. cold rinse -  The final rinse is to make sure all the detergent is thoroughly washed away from the diapers.  I use the actual "rinse" cycle.

What detergent should you use?  Most likely, not the detergent you are already using on your clothes.  In order to keep your diapers free ofabsorbency-issue causing buildup, you want to use a detergent free of perfumes, free of dyes and free of unnecessary additives.  

I've been washing all of our laundry with Maggie's Soap Nuts for the past month and I have been very pleased with the results.  And, I love love love that my laundry detergent grew on a tree in India.  As in, I really do love it.  No sarcasm here.  Seriously.  ****Turns out I DO NOT like soap nuts on cloth diapers!!!****

Prior to our soap nuts, I used my homemade concoction.  Via google, you will find many variations on my recipe but I like the fact that mine is soap free and all you have to do is mix the powders together and bam! you have detergent.  All 3 ingredients are found in the laundry detergent aisle.

homemade laundry detergent
Equal parts:
washing soda
oxyclean -- I use the el cheapo Wal-Mart brand.
*I use one oxyclean scoop per load of diapers*

I really like how Jillian's Drawers explains why 'free and clear' detergents aren't good for cloth diapers and I like that that her list of good detergents is short and simple.  Of course, my two suggestions didn't make the list....but, whatever, I still like her list.

How much detergent should you use?  You will only use a quarter of the recommended amount for one load of diapers.   So, if you are like me and live in a dinky town that doesn't offer fancy additive free detergents and you choose to order detergent off the internet, it should last a long time.  I like that.

*Repeat after me*
If something doesn't work the first time,
try something different!

They're diapers,
 not rocket science.

I'm looking for lots of comments.
Come on, folks.

If you use cloth diapers:
Is your wash routine similar to mine?
What detergent do you use?

If you are considering cloth diapers:
What part of washing diapers worries you the most?


Christine said...

Cold wash with Oxiclean, no rinse
Hot wash with Tide powder to the 1 line and Calgon or Borax to the 1 line of the Tide scoop.
Two cold rinses.

I've tried other detergents but there is always one or two diapers that come out smelling faintly like poop. I can get them clean but it takes so much detergent and it's COSTLY!

Wife, Mother, and Daughter said...

I do a cold wash, (if needed oxiclean)
then I do a hot wash with arm and hammer essentials. Then I do an extra hot rinse.
IF their is a build up and stripping is needed I do dawn and baking soda.
I also second the liking washing cloth diapers. I feel so good about cleaning my diapers and knowing that I am not throwing a chemically filled diaper in the land fill!

TheSandersFamily said...

The ONLY laundry I don't mind doing is diapers!

We do a cold rinse>hot wash on the longest cycle with a scoop of Charlie's Soap>cold extra rinse and voila!

Easy and never had to strip or have never had any issue since I switched to Charlie's Soap when Tripp was about 4 months old. Before I made my own detergent and had build up issues (bad combo with the hard water residues from our water at the time).

I use Charlie's on all our laundry and love it! I buy it via Crunchy Co-op it is SO cheap (cheaper than most regular laundry soaps) and lasts forever.

TheDearmanFamily said...

Basically, we all have essentially the same routine but we've tweaked it to make it work for us.

I might have to try Original Tide powder since that link I posted said it was the only detergent they're customers have never had an issue with.

WMD, how much Dawn and baking soda do you use to strip the diapers? Hen's AIO's don't seem to be quite right these days.

TheDearmanFamily said...

Oh yeah, and Blogger still hates me. Those crazy spaces refuse to go away....

Bethany said...

We do cold rinse, wash cycle on hot and then another cold rinse. I just started using Rockin' Green (Plain White Teas) Cloth Diaper Soap. It's scented and okay for cloth diapers. I love it, love it, love it!!

Kaitlin @ More Like Mary said...

You say equal parts of all three-but only one oxiclean scoop per load?? I'm confused :)

I went to and it intimidated me..... What's the deal with that website?

Jude and Alisha said...

slow down. i've been grumpy and haven't even commented on #1 yet...

Bethany said...

Whooops- that Plain Green Teas.

TheDearmanFamily said...

Bethany, have you had to change your routine or are you still doing everything the same way as when Isaiah was born?

Kaitlin, Mandi is the Crunchy-Coop expert. She has all the answers.

Alisha, comment, dangit!

TheDearmanFamily said...

Kaitlin, I use equal part to "make" the detergent. I keep it in a bucket on top of the fridge away from little hands and then I just use the oxyclean scoop as the measuring device. Does that make sense?

Kaitlin @ More Like Mary said...

Ah. I gotcha now. Thanks!

kelly said...

I do a cold rinse and then and hot/long cycle using Biokleen detergent. I like it. I get my diapers from Jen who owns this business.

She's awesome and has some great resources listed.
ps- I live in Tallahassee now and bumped into Lizbeth awhile back. :)

Bethany said...

I've changed it up quite a bit and am just now happy with my routine. I used far too much of the wrong soap. I used to do All: Small & Mighty in the first rinse and then in the wash cycle with no final rinse. Then, the same with Seventh Gen (horrible decision- I wish I had done more research on soaps) but no matter how many rinses I did I had issues with the soap.

Now I've been using Rockin' Green and I love that- only 2 tablespoons for my HE washer during the hot wash cycle and I haven't had a single diaper come out with that lingering poop smell.

TheDearmanFamily said...

Kelly, I met Jen when I went to the breastfeeding support group in Tallahassee after Martha was born. I'm actually planning on buying a new cover from her this Saturday in support of the 'shop local' thingy in town.

Bethany, it's definitely key to be open to changing how you wash the diapers!

Tara said...

great post. We also use soap nuts... I have been really happy with how well they work. Just out of curiosity, do you do anything with the soapnut husks after you have run them through their couple of washes? I heard that some people soak them in water a third time to make liquid hand soap?

TheDearmanFamily said...

Tara, I've been throwing the husks in our compost pile but that is interesting about making hand soap. I think that I will fill a mason jar with water and throw the old husks in there and see what we have in a few months....although, that might need some googling, in addition to my little plan.

Glad to see someone is using soap nuts and pleased with the results. I do have a hard time keeping the bag out of the first rinse and then remembering to dig it out for the final rinse.

Jude and Alisha said...

Bethany, I'm glad you posted something about HE machines. I've had A LOT of past stink issues with my diapers and I'm weary to try out new powders or homemade detergents with my HE. (Laura, didn't you say that your homemade detergent could probably be used on HE machines?)

Right now I alternate between Charlie's Soap and Tide free and clear. And every now and the I dash a little Calgon in a wash to help with build up. I still think my routine could be better, the smell is starting up again. Maybe I'll try the Rockin' Green...

Jude and Alisha said...

So I forgot to mention a few other things. After a cold wash with no detergent, I throw in 3-4 towels into my hot wash because I only have 12 diapers that I'm cleaning. Clothes need clothes to wash and I think that my load was too small to get a good wash before. I think it also tricks my washer into putting more water in because a HE machine senses the weight and puts water in accordingly.

Does anyone else have any HE machine advice?

TheDearmanFamily said...

Alisha, I am pretty sure that my detergent recipe could be used in HE machines because it is extremely low sudsing, which is what you want for an HE machine. But, you know, we aren't that fancy and newfangled around this house......

Kaitlin @ More Like Mary said...

Cotton Babies just did a post on washing if anyone is interested....

Kaitlin @ More Like Mary said...

oops-wrong link. That was about Christmas.

Here's the Cotton Babies link:

LoriV said...

I am having issues with my diapers. Leaking and a strong ammonia smell when they are wet. I've been using Green Mountain Free Baby detergent that is supposed to be good or diapers (no additives, enzymes, fragrances, etc.). I just ordered some Rockin' Green, so I will give that a try. I have a HE machine that doesn't allow me to choose water levels. I'm using the highest water cycle and running several rinses. So I'm not sure if my culprit is the HE or the detergent. (I am probably going to have to strip them.)

Since I read your post, I've thought about trying soapnuts. Have you made the tea, or are you just using the whole soapnuts in the wash? I've found a few recipes online for many soapnut uses. (Hand soap, all-purpose cleaner, window cleaner, shampoo, mosquito repellent!)

Jude and Alisha said...

Lori V, can I chime in because I've got an HE too and had BAAAD stick issues at the beginning.

I would suggest stripping the diapers anyway just for a fresh start.

Its well known to use less detergent for cloth diapers, but if you have an HE, you should use even less - like a 1/4 of the recommended amount. Also, make sure that your washer is at least halfway full, but full is best. I don't have enough diapers to fill my washer, so I add towels during the hot washing part to help "wash" the diapers. This has seemed to help.

And I would continue to use the extra rinses and every now and then I dash a bit of calgon in the fabric softener slot to help strip. I just started using a longer normal cold wash as the first step instead of a small quick wash like I was and telling my machine that the soil level is the highest possible.

I hope this helps - and when in doubt, just keep switching detergents or routines. Good luck.

Mrs.Smitty said...

I have quite a few soap nut samples that have been sitting next to our washer for months.. I was too nervous to try them on my CD's. Now you've convinced me to keep them away from the diapers. I'll use them for the regular laundry and save the RnG for diapers. I've been using RnG since my oldest was in diapers with 100% success (including 2 moves to different areas of the country with different water!