Washing And Caring For Cloth Diapers And Diaper Covers

Washing your cloth diapers properly will ensure they provide many years of good service. This article will provide all the neccesary diaper care details.

Properly washing and caring for cloth diapers and diaper covers will prolong their usability and ensure their cleanliness. Both of which are important factors to parents who chose cloth diapering for economic, environmental, and health reasons.

To begin with, soiled diapers should be stored properly until it is time to wash them. It is not necessary to rinse or soak diapers that are just wet. Diapers that contain a bowel movement do not need to be rinsed, and only very solid matter needs to be dumped (either into the toilet or other appropriate receptacle). Soiled diapers do not necessarily have to be soaked either. The method in which you store soiled diapers is mainly a matter of personal preference. A wet pail, in which diapers soak in a detergent solution until wash day, is how dirty cloth diapers have traditionally been dealt with. However, most cloth diaper users today use what is called the "˜Dry Pail' method. When using a dry pail, the dirty diapers are simply placed into a container with a snug lid (to reduce dirty diaper odor) and ignored until wash day! Extremely easy, no pail full of dirty liquid to hassle with or worry about baby getting into, and the end result (clean diapers) is just as effective as a wet pail. Regardless of which method used, diapers should be washed often, at least every 3-4 days. Dirty diapers are the perfect breeding ground for bacteria, mold and mildew. The longer they sit dirty the more damage will be done to the fibers of the diaper and the more difficult it will be to get the diapers thoroughly clean.

There are many detergent choices for washing diapers. The best choices are those that are free from dyes and perfumes. Both of which can irritate sensitive skin. It is also important that detergents containing enzymes be avoided. Many detergents advertise having "˜active enzymes', or natural whiteners. These enzymes are designed to activate when wet, and digest organic matter (such as food or grass stains on clothing). They are great for helping to remove stains, but unfortunately have a very negative effect on baby's bottom. It is nearly impossible to remove all the detergent residue from clothing. This means that some of the enzymes from the detergent will remain in the diapers. When the diapers are exposed to wetness in use, the enzymes will be activated and will begin their job of digesting organic matter, including you baby's bottom! This can lead to very nasty diaper rash. Castile soaps with natural essential oils are also an excellent choice for washing diapers, and an alternative to traditional detergents. Essential oils such as peppermint and lavender are naturally antibacterial, and leave diapers smelling fresh and clean. Castile soap also has the added benefit of leaving diapers wonderfully soft!



Once you have settled on a detergent you feel comfortable with, it is time to proceed to the how-tos of diaper washing. It is best to only fill the tub of your washer half full with dirty diapers and set the water setting to high. That way there will be plenty of space for the diapers to agitate and wash clean. Do not overfill your washer! It is best to run dirty diapers through a cold water pre-wash, and then proceed to a full hot water wash cycle. If your machine has a heavy duty or extended wash cycle that is the best option. Once the diapers have gone through an entire wash, put them through a final extra rinse cycle to remove as much detergent as possible. Diapers can be machine dried, or hung on a laundry line to dry in the sun. Be sure the diapers are thoroughly dry before folding and storing, or using on baby. Dampness can encourage mildew, mold, and bacterial growth.

As you use your diapers for an extended period of time, it may be necessary to trouble shoot a variety of problems. Here are the most common, and their solutions:

Stains- Stains are an everyday fact of life for diapers"¦ just look at the purpose they serve! However, stains are unsightly and if they can be removed all the better. Sunning, which is simply hanging wet diaper to dry in full sun for several hours, is a great way to remove stains, especially in light colored fabrics. Soaking diapers in an oxygenated detergent, or using a stain pre-treater is also an effective way to remove many stains. DO NOT Bleach diapers!! Bleach breaks down fabric fibers which weakens diapers.

Odors- Smelly diapers are also very common, and occur for a number of reasons. The most common cause of foul odors is improper washing resulting in the diapers not getting thoroughly cleaned. Try washing smaller loads, or washing for more cycles. Vinegar or baking soda can also be added to the wash cycle for added cleansing and odor fighting power. Sometimes ammonia builds up in diapers over time, and the best way to remove the smell is to remove the source. Wash the diapers several times without detergent in very hot water, and then dry on high heat or sun dry.

Loss of Absorbency- Laundry detergent build up can lead to a loss of absorbency. Adding a cup of vinegar to the rinse cycle while washing your diapers can cut the build up. It is also a good idea to use about half the recommended amount of detergent when washing diapers. A little goes a long ways! Never use dryer sheets, or other fabric softeners of diapers. They contain a waxy like substance that builds up and severely impede the absorbency of the diapers.

Cloth diaper covers require the same basic care as cloth diapers. There are some exceptions though. Fleece covers can not be washed with Castile soap; it removes their ability to be water resistant. Wool covers should be hand washed only in a gentle washing liquid that contains lanolin and then air dried. Most covers made of synthetic materials are machine washable; however, line or air drying covers of all types (even those that say they withstand machine drying) will prolong their lifespan.

If properly cared for, high quality cloth diapers and covers will last through several generations of babies.

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