Sunday, August 10, 2008

Laundry Day

As I said before in my post about how many cloth diapers you need, I do laundry every other day. With two little ones in diapers, that adds up to quite a bit by the time I get to the laundry room! So here are my answers to laundering-related issues.

So what do you do with the dirty diapers until you wash them?
Okay, what I do with the dirty diapers has changed a lot in the past week. You really just have to play around and see what works for you. We have what is called a hanging diaper pail by Fuzzi Bunz. It just hangs on the doorknob to the linen closet right beside the toilet, so it's actually quite convenient. Some people have actual pails, but I don't have space for one. You could use a diaper champ or diaper genie with or without a plastic bag in it. You can also use a lidded trash can. However, be advised that plastic absorbs smells! If you're going to get an actual pail, I highly recommend getting a stainless steel trash can.

Now, up until about a week ago, I was just rinsing out all the diapers and dropping them in the pail until laundry day. Most of the time the pail didn't smell, but it got to where the diapers smelled kind of funky, even right after washing. Some people don't experience this problem. I would definitely advise starting out by using the dry pailing method, and if you don't have any issues, don't worry about it. If you do start having skunky diapers, then you could try this.

But, since I started having problems with smelly dipes, I have switched to a mostly wet pail system. I'm using our washing machine tub as my wet pail; I fill it up 3/4 of the way and add 1/4 cup baking soda. You can buy special diaper pails, potty pails, or lidded trash cans to use as a wet pail if you wish. But, you will need to take some serious precautions if you have a wet pail in the house! Children and pets can drown in extremely shallow water! Keep your wet pail closed with a locking lid, and keep the door closed - and locked when possible - to prevent any kids or pets from getting into the area where the wet pail is kept. That's the main reason I'm using my washing machine tub as a wet pail - our laundry room is in the carport, so it's outside of the house altogether, plus I keep the lid closed and the laundry room door closed.

So after each diaper change, I take all the elements of the diaper apart - cover off, inserts out, etc. Anything that has a PUL coating gets rinsed out in the potty and stored in the hanging diaper pail in the bathroom. All non-PUL-coated materials (prefolds, fitteds, microfiber inserts) go straight outside to the washing machine tub, no pre-rinsing necessary for wets. Poopy diapers, of course, get washed out in the potty as detailed in the diaper changing entry.

There is an on-going debate about whether or not to soak PUL materials. Some people say it will compromise the waterproofing capabilities, others say no. I'm kind of afraid to so I don't, but I know people who do it with absolutely no problems.

What about when you go out of the house?
We cloth diaper about 99% of the time, whether we're at home, running errands, going for day trips, or even traveling on vacation. As long as there's a washing machine, I use cloth. I have what is called a wet bag with a zipper to put in my diaper bag. It's actually made of the same waterproof material as the diapers, so I just stick the dirty dipes in there till I get home or to my destination. No wet stuff or stinky in the diaper bag.

What about routine washing?
I wash every other day, and as I've said before, it's quite a load by that time between the two of them! Everyone develops their own wash routine over time, and mine is constantly evolving to achieve the cleanest diapers possible. Here's my current routine:

  • Carry the hanging diaper pail out to the washing machine, dump contents on top of soaking diapers and inserts. Push to submerge and soak for 20 minutes. Spin out tub and follow with another cold rinse.
  • Hot wash with 1/2 the recommended amount of an enzyme-free laundry detergent, like Allen's Naturally, Planet, or Charlie's Soap. Allen's is my favorite, but no one sells it locally and the shipping is expensive since the bottles are quite heavy, so now I'm using Planet (4 tbsp per diaper load).
  • Two cold rinses to make sure all the detergent rinses out.
  • I hang them to dry when weather permits and I have the time, otherwise I dry them in the dryer with a few clean, dry towels to help cut down on drying time.

Special Occasion Cleaning

Probably about every 6 to 8 weeks I "strip" my diapers to get them really super clean. You can do this as a regimen, or wait until you start to have skunky diapers. Here's how I strip my diapers:

  • Start with diapers clean, but not necessarily dry. Boil a huge stockpot of water and pour over diapers as the wash tub is filling with hot water.
  • Add anywhere from 2 tsp to 1 tbsp of Dawn original dish washing detergent. This helps to cut grease build up on the diapers from your child's skin, lotions and oils, and give them a fresher scent.
  • Rinse on cold rinses until you no longer see bubbles in the rinse water. This could take as many as 5 or 6 rinses! Make sure you're using cold water for your rinses.

Alternately, some people don't do this (for a wide variety of reasons), and I certainly DO NOT recommend doing it more often than I say here, but I also use 1/8 cup of regular bleach in a regular wash routine with my diapers once every 8 weeks. I kind of do it halfway in between stripping to buy myself a little more time before I have to strip them again.

If you have stains that won't seem to go anywhere, try wetting the diaper, putting lemon juice on the stain, and placing it in direct sunlight until dry. Repeat as necessary until stain is completely eradicated.

For that matter, sun drying is an extremely energy efficient and effective way to brighten the look and freshen up the smell of all diapers. I strongly advise that you sun-dry your diapers whenever possible.


Marcie said...

Is your water bill not outrageous?

The Cloth Diapering Mama said...

Not at all! Our water bill increased by about $5 per month once we started cloth diapering. But we're really conservative with our water usage also. We're on city water with sewage, not septic, so I don't know if that makes a difference.

Tully Family said...

Do you soak in water before washing OR strip pocket diapers like bumGenius or Fuzzi Bunz? If you do strip them, how?

The Cloth Diapering Mama said...

Well, I had heard a lot of conflicting stuff about soaking pockets with PUL, so I used to just err on the side of caution and keep them out of the wet pail. Finally, after reading lots and lots - and LOTS - of testimonials of moms who said they had wet-pailed their PUL diapers with no problem, I started doing the same. Mostly because the fleece liners got to where they were kind of stinky when the urine dried on them before they made it to the washing machine.

I've been wet-pailing my pockets (but not my PUL covers) for about 6 months now with no problems. If anything, the diapers smell and look fresher than they ever did before!

Yes, I also strip the pockets. I also strip my covers, because sometimes the binding gets funky-skunky. I strip all our diapers and accessories the same way, as detailed in this original post!

Tully Family said...

Thanks- that was helpful! If our pockets get stinky, I'll try the wet method.

Oh, another ?- do you pre-wash your pockets before using them for the first time?

The Cloth Diapering Mama said...

Yes, I wash e-v-e-r-y new diaper before putting it on the kids' bums. Pockets don't really need to be prepped like prefolds and unbleached fitteds do, but a quick prewash never hurts. (I just toss them in with a load of diapers.) There could be sizing, dust, lint, hand lotion, who knows what from the seamstresses and manufacturer. Also, if you ever buy a pocket from WAHM, some of them may pre-wash their fabrics in a mainstream laundry detergent that could have left a residue on the diapers. :o)

Tully Family said...

Okay, this time I have a drying ? b/c I've read conflicting reports! LOL Do you dry your pocket diapers? If so, what heat setting? I think I will try to let them air dry but since we live in Ohio, they might take a long time to dry in the colder months.

The Cloth Diapering Mama said...

I try to hang my pockets to dry as often as possible. Really, even in the cold, they air-dry really quickly! You can hang them outside, but in the winter months, they would probably dry faster if you get a portable/folding laundry rack and put it up somewhere in the house. I like to dry mine outdoors when possible, but in the south right now we're in the peak of pollen season, so if I put them outside, I still have to toss them in the dryer with a wet towel for 10 minutes to knock the pollen off.

Now, all that said, more often than not, I do end up machine drying my pockets. Way more than I should! :o/ But it doesn't hurt them that I can tell. Actually, most diaper companies have said that drying your PUL materials on medium-high to high heat for 20 to 30 minutes can help reseal and "recharge" the PUL. If you decide to toss your pockets in the dryer, you could just throw everything in the dryer and set a timer for 20 minutes so you don't forget to grab your pockets out! Alternately, you could hang them to dry, and then pop them in the dryer and set it for 20 minutes after everything else is done. :o)

Tully Family said...

There is an end w/ these ?s- last one, I promise! Do you ever have an issue w/ the pocket diaper colors bleeding?

The Cloth Diapering Mama said...

Nope! Because PUL has been heat-binded (bound?) to the fabric. No bleeding from a PUL surface! :o) Although, I have had cotton print fitteds bleed before. :o/ Kind of a bummer, considering how much you pay for them!

*~*a.l.s*~* said...

okay! I'm trying this method (the stripping method) tonight! Hope it helps--2 of my pockets are wicking like mad :) Thanks for your great posts!

*~*a.l.s*~* said...

i'm stripping my dipes again, via your post instructions. You should make this a Tutorial Tuesday :)

Happy Memorial Day!

Katherine said...

I started cloth diapering about 8 months ago, and have only used Allens Naturally to wash the diapers. Over time, they’ve accumulated an odor of urine which I can’t seem to entirely rid myself of, so I tried a vinegar and an Allens wash or two…The result has been diapers that smell of ammonia, and hurt my childrens’ sensitive parts (they’ll wake up complaining). What did I do wrong? Do you have any ideas to help? (please, please?)
Should I do the stripping with Dawn, or try the clorox?
Thank you!