How I wash my Dipes

Posted by  | Thursday, October 25, 2007  at 9:37 AM  
I think the hardest thing about cloth for me has been figuring out a wash routine. There are SO MANY ways to wash, SO MANY different products you can use and all of the success depends on your water type among other factors. To say the least, it is a complicated equation that will take most people some amount of time to figure out.

Every diaper change I:

-remove dirty dipe and spray off any poop into the toilet
-remove the insert (if using a pocket diaper)
-spray inserts and CPFs with Bac-Out (by Bio-kleen)
-put all parts into diaper pail (a trash can with a waterproof liner)

Every 2-3 days I:

-dump contents of pail into the washer
-short cold rinse
-long hot wash w/ about 1tbsp of Dawn dish soap
-another short warm rinse
-either line dry outside, inside or use the dryer

Other options to add to wash routine:

1. baking soda to first rinse (helps to whiten and freshen dipes)

2. vinegar in a downy ball to hot wash (helps remove detergent, soften dipes)

3. oxyclean FREE to first rinse (this works like bleach)

4. Bac-Out or Tea Tree Oil to wash (naturally kills bacteria)

*Note that some diaper manufacturers recommend NOT using vinegar and/or baking soda. Because the vinegar is an acid can wear down waterproof fabrics (like the PUL in covers or pockets) and make them not waterproof. I have used it on occasion and had no trouble. I never have trouble with baking soda. The others I recommend are generally viewed as Cloth-friendly.

What do you if you have VERY STINKY (like burn your eyes stinky) diapers?

The smell is ammonia. This is caused when the urine is mixed with any detergent that is left in your diapers. Typically the synthetic fibers (like microfiber, suedecloth or fleece - also called performance fabrics or stay dry fabrics) are going to be susceptible to buildup. From my experience, it seems CPFs and other natural fibers (hemp, cotton, etc.) are less likely develop ammonia stinkies.

Tips to avoid detergent buildup, especially in synthetic fibers:
  • Choose wisely when you choose a detergent. Check out this website to see which are good choices for cloth. I have personally tried Charlie's Soap and Purex. Didn't work as well for me as my current choice of Dawn does.
  • Adjust the amount of detergent you use. Usually, less is better. It does not take very much to wash diapers.
  • Be sure all detergent is rinsed by looking for bubbles in your final rinse. Repeat rinses until all bubbles are gone if needed. If you are using a small enough amount of detergent, this should not be needed.

How to get rid of ammonia and "strip" your diapers:

  • For me, I start with clean diapers and simply use a hot wash of two scoops of OxyClean and then hot rinses until all bubbles are gone.
  • On occasion I have also bleached my inserts. This really helps to get rid of the stinkies, but you MUST rinse this out well! Bleach is not recommended on waterproof fabrics because it is harsh, but can be done on occasion (I know Krista has done it before). It is also not really recommended for inserts because it will shorten the life of the diaper, but it really has helped us wipe out ammonia while trying to perfect our wash routine. As long as you rinse well and don't do it often, it should be fine!
  • If you are using a detergent (other than Dawn) you can use a small amount (1tbsp or so) of Dawn to help strip your diapers as well. Same as with the oxyclean - just rinse until all bubbles are gone.
  • Hanging your diapers in the sun is also a great way to keep the ammonia gone and naturally bleach the stains away! I do this as time permits, but we are short on space for line drying outside so its hard to do.
Why do I use Dawn?

After trying Charlies Soap and Purex, I was desperate for a solution. I had tried all different amounts of these two (separately of course) and was still winding up with ammonia every couple of weeks. I read on a diapering message board about a method using only Dawn to wash your diapers. Many of the ladies on this board have used this method for years with no ill effects to their diapers and NEVER having to strip since switching to Dawn. Most of these ladies use mostly pocket diapers made of synthetic fibers as well.

Since switching to Dawn I've had to strip ONCE only when I realized that I was using Ultra Concentrated Dawn and too much of it. I cut my amount in half and my diapers are always fresh and clean now! Some websites recommend against using Dawn for anything more regular than stripping, but as you'll find there is SO MUCH conflicting cloth diaper laundry advice and I just decided that it worked so I was going to use it.

It's really all about trial and error. It took me about 6 months to finally figure it out! Pretty soon it will be so simple your husband can do it! :) Mine does.


Shannon said...

Hey, I like the idea of using Dawn, especially since I can't get specialty soaps without ordering them on the internet. Which type of Dawn do you use, and how much??

Christina said...

The best type of Dawn is the original scent (none of those orange, yellow or green versions - the blue original scent) and regular NOT ultra concentrated is even better. BUT...I can only find ultra concentrated in the stores here. I've heard that the dollar store might carry the regular, but I haven't looked. The ultra works fine as long as you use even less. Like 1/2 tbsp maybe to start with?

Good luck!

Christina said...

I just realized you were the one who had asked for advice on using the coin laundry and how to make it easier. I don't have any advice for you since I don't have to deal with that. But would like to say that maybe using the Dawn would help them rinse more quickly than other detergents?

Another thought is do the coin machines have any options for a wash that is even longer (or with more rinses) than a normal machine?

Maybe Leah can chime in b/c she tried this method for a while before switching to the service.

Keep us posted on how its going!

markandmeg said...

Thanks for the link about laundry detergents -- I had no idea so many of them could cause damage to the diapers! Very helpful!

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