by Cayley, co-owner of Pumpkin’s Delivery Service
As the co-owner of Calgary’s only local cloth diaper delivery service, I love making sure fluff-loving families everywhere have laundry success even if they don’t want to outsource their washing to us. (But please sign up in case you do!)
These tips and tricks will have you winning the wash at home.
- Choose a Proper Detergent
A lot has changed over the last four to five years about which detergents are considered ideal for washing cloth diapers. Gone are the days when diaper brands insisted you spend extra money to purchase specific “cloth diaper safe” detergents. In most cases, your standard household laundry detergent will work just as well for cloth diapers as it does for shirts, pants and socks!
A lot of cloth diaper manufacturers have now updated their own washing recommendations to include numerous mainstream detergents that you can find in any laundry aisle. As long as the detergent does not contain a built-in fabric softener, it should be okay to use with your cloth diapers.
For households with sensitive skin, there are lots of great detergent options that will properly and thoroughly clean those dirty diapers. Plant-based or free-and-clear products generally require a tad extra detergent per diaper load, as well as more water softeners (but I’m getting ahead of myself).
- Separate Fact from Fiction
There’s an old wives’ tale about washing cloth diapers that says the more water you use, the less detergent you’ve got to drop in and the cleaner your laundry load will come out in the end.
Let’s be honest with ourselves and face the nitty-gritty facts: washing cloth diapers means we are dealing with human waste. Therefore, it actually requires more detergent (and a strong one, in the best-case scenario) to effectively clean your diapers. The old myth of adding more water to achieve clean diapers has been replaced by the science of using a proper amount of detergent coupled with sufficient agitation of the diapers to scrub deep into the material.
The notion of extra rinses being helpful has also been debunked—this process can lead to additional mineral deposits being left on the fabric, which can then trap debris and cause stink issues. Take a look at The Monarch Mommy’s Four Fundamentals of Washing Cloth Diapers for more great tips.
- Know How to Use Your HE Machine to Wash Diapers
While it has taken some time to figure out the science behind the latest technological advances in laundry, high-efficiency (or HE) machines can certainly be used to effectively wash cloth diapers at home! And no, this process does not involve hauling any extra buckets of water to add to your machine…
Effective wash routines for ANY washer require two main steps:
- A short, cold cycle containing only diapers with a small amount of detergent and water softener, if applicable
- A long, hot, heavy-duty cycle with maximum detergent (typically what is recommended on the box for a large, heavily soiled load) and water softener, if applicable
Because you cannot control the amount of water used in most HE machines, the addition of enough bulky material to create proper agitation may be necessary. This means adding small items such as hand towels, children’s clothes, socks etc. until the drum is 2/3 to 3/4 full. It may take a bit of fine-tuning to find the right balance that works for you, but once you hit cloth diaper routine gold, you’re, well, golden!
- Know How to Wash in Hard Water
The last piece of the washing puzzle is to test your own home’s water hardness. This value, along with your detergent choice, helps to determine if you need to add a softener (e.g., Borax) to one or both of your wash cycles.
If you’re dealing with particularly hard water, it’s also advantageous to use a powdered detergent as they contain more water softener in the detergent itself compared to the liquid formulas.
For more information on washing with hard water, check out this great post from The Monarch Mommy.
- Maintain Your Washer
It is very important to clean your home washer regularly. You can do this by running your machine’s self-clean cycle (or a hot regular cycle depending on your machine) along with a cleaning tablet or powder. I recommend that you do this on a monthly basis to keep your washer performing at its best. You can also take this opportunity to check the drain trap (typically a small panel on the lower front corner) for any clogged debris that may slow the draining of your washer. (Hint: check here if you are experiencing issues with suds.)
- Ask for Help
If you’re in Calgary and feel that you need some advice or a bit of help to get the most out of your cloth diapering experience, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us here at Pumpkin’s Diaper Delivery, and we’ll be more than happy to lend you a hand!
By following these key points, you’ll have a proper wash routine locked down in no time! I truly believe that cloth diapering can be a hassle-free, rewarding and enjoyable experience. After all, who doesn’t love a baby with an adorable fluffy bum?