I never dreamed that I would think so much about cloth diaper laundry. Honestly, at the beginning, I didn’t think about it at all! With Cub’s prefolds and covers and exclusively-breastfed excrement, I used any “cloth safe” detergent I had (ranging from Rockin’ Green to Attitude, BioVert, Nature Clean and even soap nuts), on a variety of cycles in my Amana HE washer (sometimes even just a rinse and a quick wash), and I never had any issues.
Enter solid foods and diapers made of synthetic fibres (BumGenius and TotsBots Easyfits), and suddenly I had a puzzle in front of me that I am still working to solve. I have come to a couple of conclusions so far:
- Newborn diapers and all their EBF poop and pee are easy to wash!
- Solid food pee and poop and an HE washer that limits the amount of water used can lead to stinkies.
- “Cloth safe” detergent is not necessarily the best option for my diapers. I don’t know if I subscribe to conspiracy theories about why cloth manufacturers warn against mainstream detergents, but I’m no longer treating my diapers like they are fine China.
- Cloth diaper wash routines can be the subject of epic online controversy.
- A detergent and wash routine that works for one family won’t always work for another due to factors such as the type of water, the type of washer and the type of diapers being washed.
So now I’m on a mission to solve my own washing woes, which are basically ammonia build up. Not a ton of poop hits Cub’s fluff thanks to flushable liners and my speedy poop-face response time, so the issue is urine. After a while with any number of detergents and a variety of wash routines, the classic ammonia build up sign of immediately stinky diapers post-pee-pee appears and assaults my nose.
There are a variety of methods for “stripping” ammonia build up from cloth diapers, and I want every Mama to use the one that works for her, whether it’s Rockin’ Green Funk Rock (haven’t tried it yet), Oxiclean (works for me), regular bleach (also works) or my personal favourite, Laundry Tarts Strip It.
You know your stripping method has worked when your wee one wees and you don’t get an immediate whiff of ammonia. For you, dear Wolf Mamas, I have not only been sticking my nose in diapers fresh out of the wash, but also on those fresh off the bum. Some babies suffer ammonia burn from build up in their diapers. Either our buildup has never been that intense or my Cub has buns of steel, since this has never been a problem for us.
So let’s play cloth wash routine match maker. If I were making a Lava Life profile in search of my perfect wash routine, here’s what it’d look like:
Hipster Housewife Seeks Cool Cloth Diaper Wash Routine:
- HE compatible.
Routines involving pre-soaks in the bathtub, adding water to the cycle, running multiple cycles lasting 5 hours, adding laundry additives, or requiring that I buy a new washing machine need not apply.
I prefer a detergent that is….
- Affordable on a price-per-load basis;
- Easily available;
- Works well in our borderline-hard, Montreal water;
- Biodegradable and non-harmful to the environment;
- Gentle and nontoxic for my son’s skin.
A good relationship is based on compromise, so I realize that I may never get everything I want and have diapers that are truly clean and do not need monthly stripping. I hope to find a balance between what I want (all of the above) and what I need (clean diapers).
Please join me on this Quest for the Best, and if you think you’ve found your winning routine, PLEASE do share!
Here are some resources I’ve used in researching for my Quest:
- Washing Cloth Diapers with Tide
- Washing Diapers in a Front Loading Machine
- Stinky Cloth Diapers Solved
*Note that this experiment is not sponsored by any of the brands I am testing. I’ve paid for all my supplies myself.