How often you need to wash your cloth diapers will depend on how many you have in your stash and what system you use. If you only have enough diapers to make it through 1.5 days you will need to wash every day. If you have built up your stash you will be able to go a matter of days between washes. I mainly use pocket diapers, so I end up doing a load of diapers every 2nd or every 3rd day, depending on how many Baby “S” uses. Most of the time I wash every other day but only to keep the load at a reasonable level. Allow me to walk you through the steps of washing your diapers:
1. Toss diapers with only pee right into the machine. If there is poop in the diaper, rinse the poop out as best you can before tossing into the machine. You may rinse either in your utility tub or get a diaper sprayer. These are rather expensive gadgets that attach to your toilet and rinse right into them. (Separate post about sprayers coming soon).
2. Run a rinse cycle on cold. You must set your machine to a large load but do not fill the machine more than half full with diapers. This is because you need lots of water to get the diapers thoroughly clean.
3. When the rinse cycle is complete, open the machine and add in a very minimal amount of diaper safe soap. You may need to play with this a bit to learn how much you really need. In general, you need half the soap that the manufacturer says you need for a small size load. Run a wash on the Hot/cold setting. The hot will get your diapers nice and clean and a cold rinse is all that is truly necessary.
4. You MAY need to run an additional cold rinse cycle to get all the soap out of the diapers. It is very important to get the soap out so you do not get a buildup on your diapers and need to strip often. This cycle is only necessary depending on your detergent.
5. (may be completed prior to step 4, and after step 4 if step 4 is necessary). Take out a diaper and smell the inside (where the baby’s bottom touches). I usually repeat this with 3-4 diapers and 3-4 inserts just to make sure. If the diaper smells like water it is clean. If it still smells funky, you need to rinse again.
6. If the diaper smells like soap, continue rinsing until the soap smell is gone. If you add another rinse and the diaper still smells funky, I recommend starting over again on step 3. Next time try adding a bit more detergent the first time you get to step 3 and hopefully you won’t need to get to this point again.
7. Hang all covers and AIOs to dry (if it has Velcro or snaps, it counts as a cover). Inserts and prefolds may be put in the dryer on a medium heat cycle. Do not put your covers in the dryer because it will cause wear and tear. The Velcro will pill, the snaps will become more difficult to use, and they may melt in some places (personal experience talking here)
For a list of diaper safe detergents, please click here. I highly recommend Rockin’ Green Detergent. It may be used for all your laundry, but is especially designed for your diapers.
DO NOT use stain removers on your diapers! This will cause a buildup on your diapers and you will need to strip frequently (check my Cloth Diapering page for the post about stripping diapers). Instead, hang diapers outside on any sunny days (even cold and sunny days). The sun is a natural disinfectant and also naturally removes stains from diapers.