Saturday, December 27, 2014

Cloth 101: Washing and Prepping in a Front Loader

You've decided on cloth diapering, but now you're staring at a bunch of unprepped diapers and a high-efficiency front-loading washer. What to do now?! No worries! Grab your diapers, your detergent, and get ready to prep (and wash)!

To start, you want to make sure that you know how to prep your diapers. Man-made materials need to be prepped differently than natural materials such as bamboo, hemp, or cotton, so make sure you look to see what your diapers are made of before you go any further.
All your diapers will come with different washing instructions, so make sure to read what is recommended by the manufacturer to start. Any covers and microfiber items only need one wash and they are good to go. Easy-peasy! If you have natural material items, you'll want to do multiple washes to take the natural oils off of the materials (these oils can prevent the material from absorbing liquid, and if you accidentally wash with other diapers before these are prepped, they can get on the other diapers and cause repelling). Depending on the brand, you could see recommendations for anywhere from 3 to 7 washes before first use. I always try to do at least 5 washes, but the more they get washed, the more absorbent they will become. If you only have a couple of natural items to prep, you can wash them with loads of clothes or towels (whichever you wash on hot) so you don't feel like you're wasting water.
Your wash routine is going to be the trickier aspect of washing your diapers because no one way will work for everyone. There are many variables to take into consideration when coming up with your wash routine. First, you want to know your water type. This will determine how much detergent you need to use. The harder your water, the more detergent you need to use each wash. Once you know what type of water you have, you'll want to pick your detergent. Different diaper manufacturers recommend different types of detergent. The important thing to remember is that a cloth-diaper safe detergent will not void warranties on diapers. If you opt to use a commercial detergent, this may void a warranty, so take that into consideration!
Everyone seems to have a variation on a cloth diaper washing routine, but the basic routine seems to be:
  1. Pre-rinse (cold) with partial amount of detergent
  2. Wash (hot) with detergent
  3. Rinse (warm) without detergent
Here are some tips to get your diapers the cleanest you can:
  • Rinse and/or knock solid waste out of diapers before adding to diaper pail or wetbag 
    • If your child is exclusively breastfed, you don't need to rinse the diaper (though this can prevent staining) 
    • If your child sleeps for extended periods of time, the diapers can have a stronger smell to them. Rinsing these diapers before putting in a wetbag or diaper pail will help cut down on smell
  •  Dissolve your powdered detergent in a bit of hot water before adding to the washer 
    • Dissolving your detergent before adding to your wash helps prevent buildup on the diapers from any granuals that might not have gotten fully dissolved
  • In HE FL washers, the more delicate the cycle, the more water it will use 
    • HE washers are designed to use less water, but that isn't helpful when washing cloth diapers! Since there is no agitator in an HE FL washer, the clothes are expected to beat against other clothing items to get clean. There will be more friction if there is less water. To be more gentle on delicates (less friction), the machine adds more water when more delicate cycles are selected. This is great for washing diapers!
  • If you have a button to select soil level, select 'heavily soiled' to make sure you still get a good clean! 
    • Some machines have an "extra water" or "water plus" button. If your machine has one of these, use it for your cloth!
  • Wash 12-18 diapers per load 
    • If you find that you have a significant amount of suds and have to rinse a lot after your wash cycle, try adding a few more diapers to your load next time or using a little bit less soap. Any time you add/remove a significant amount of diapers to your wash, remember it could alter the rest of your routine (might need more/less soap to make sure they get clean).
  • Sun, sun, sun! 
    • The sun can be your best friend! Not only will the sun help take away stains, but it does a great job disinfecting/sterilizing your diapers, too!
Once you find what routine works best for you, stick with it! HE FL Machines can do a fantastic job cleaning cloth diapers!

** This does not apply to wool covers **
Disclaimer: Thoughts of Fluff was not compensated for this post. All opinions are my own and may differ from those of your own. Post may contain affiliate links. 

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