Through the last few years, our cloth diaper wash routine has changed more than a few times. We have used cloth diapers since the day we brought Evan home from the hospital in 2011, and since then I have watched the wash recommendations change.
Let me preface this post with, if it isn’t broken, don’t try to fix it! If something works for you, keep doing that. It’s when it isn’t working that you should change things up, no matter anybody’s recommendations.
At the beginning, we tried making our own detergent. All along we kept our cloth diaper wash routine and normal laundry wash routine pretty similar, most of the time even using the same detergent. This is the only thing that truly did NOT work for us, but we also weren’t using any specific recipe. We were just winging it.
At the time, we did a pre-rinse, a wash with borax and washing soda, then a final rinse. At some point, those rinses became washes with no soap. We didn’t notice at the time that it wasn’t working, it wasn’t until we used some free samples of detergent that we received.
When we first began cloth diapering, we only had enough diapers to last one day. We were drying every single load, every single time, on high until the diapers were dry. Once we acquired enough diapers to spread washes out, we started drying all of the diapers on a drying rack. We did this for quite some time, as I believed the dryer was harmful to our diapers at the time. Honestly, it was a hassle getting the diapers outside on the line in the summer, only to trek still-wet diapers in at the end of the day (I live in Michigan, summer is very humid).
Over time, I heard about more and more people who dried their diapers with no ill results. (Don’t believe me? Check the results of this survey) So we started using the dryer again regularly, and have continued using the dryer for a year now, with no ill results.
Over the last few years, we have tried a handful of detergents. It all started with receiving free samples with diaper purchases and using those, but then when something seemed to work, I would occasionally buy it.
Our favorite “cloth safe” detergent was Tiny Bubbles, by GroVia, but they have decided to stop manufacturing it. Eco Nuts was something we used for awhile, and only stopped because they couldn’t be stored safely in our occasionally damp basement. I did find that everything we used Eco Nuts on stained terribly, though.
When we used all of the different cloth safe recommendations, we also added an extra rinse at the end of our wash. It didn’t cause any problems with the diapers getting clean, but I stopped that when I heard that others found it to be unnecessary.
I haven’t noticed a difference in our diapers cleanliness since stopping, but I think this may depend from household to household. The only time we do an extra rinse now is if we forget the diapers in the washer overnight.
What do you do with the poop?
Well, when baby is exclusively breastfed*, you can throw that diaper straight into the wash! Once you’ve started solids, it’s best to remove the poop first. You can spray, scrape, or swish the poop away. We use a sprayer.
Here is our current wash routine:
- Rinse (wash with no detergent)
- Wash (with detergent**)
- Dry on high, economy auto shut-off
- Dry on low for 30 minutes
Our diapers get washed every 2-3 days now, which I find to be the perfect amount.
Note: I have no clue the exact water temperatures because my grandfather installed our washer and did not hook it up completely correct. I think it uses hot water on every setting.
* Evan was supplemented with formula for a couple months as an infant, and we didn’t rinse then either. I have no experience with an exclusively formula fed baby.
** We use Original Tide most of the time now – Free and Gentle does not work for us, and honestly, the chart here shows why.
Tide is not some miracle worker for us. I haven’t really noticed a difference between Tide and Tiny Bubbles. We still get stains, mostly on our natural fibers, but the sun is a great way to take care of stains!
All in all, the best cloth diaper wash routine is the one that WORKS for you! Keep it simple, and only change what you’re doing if what you’re doing doesn’t work for you.
What is your wash routine like?