Cloth Diaper Care For Dummies

Minnesota Cloth Diapering Mommies is about cd mommies helping other cd moms. One of out mebmers Amber Perra Was asked to guest blog for us on her knowledge of cloth diaper care. We hope you enjoy.

Ok, so none of us are dummies, but washing cloth diapers seems to be the most daunting thing associated with cloth diapers. At least it was for me when I first started! A lot of people would love to cloth diaper, (or at least they say they would), but washing would just be “too difficult because X, Y or Z.” I work full time, we live in an apartment, well water; I have heard a lot of reasons why NOT to cloth diaper, But I am here to tell you that once you find a routine that works for your situation, it *should* be smooth sailing from there! Sometimes you will come to little bumps in the road, or should I say routine, but usually with just some tweaking, you can fix whatever seems to be the problem.
I will start with just a general wash routine, some people need less, some need more. Just depends on the age of baby, water and detergent type.
A cold or warm rinse to get all the yucky poo and pee out is the first step. I have never seen this suggestion otherwise. Next you will want to do a heavy wash setting/longest wash setting with the most water you can get in your machine. For my old school top loader its just switching the size of the load to LARGE. Lastly comes the extra rinse to get any left over detergent out so it doesn’t cause buildup in your diapers. This is where it can differ for some people. Some are ok with just a plain rinse cycle one time around. Others like me prefer just doing a short wash cycle, so it fills the washer up twice, once to “wash”(no detergent though!) then the rinse. This is essentially 2 rinse cycles at the end. This has greatly reduced any issues I have had with buildup! Some people prefer rinsing with cold, some warm. That is something you will have to play around with yourself, to figure out which works best for you.
So lets write that in short version- RINSE in either warm or cold; WASH with detergent on HOT, then RINSE again! Pretty simple!
What about detergent?!
This I think is the only real tricky part of washing diapers. Choosing a detergent. I tried a couple “cloth safe” detergents in the beginning, because when I started researching, I got the “Thou shalt not use anything but cloth safe detergents or it will destroy your diapers!!!!!”  YEAH…… NO. Actually, for me, the main stream detergent of TIDE ORIGINAL POWDER was what works for us! And thousands out there. Here in MN, we have pretty hard water. Added the fact that we do not have a water softener, well we have hard water! I started with Rockin Green Hard Rock then I tried Charlie’s Soap, they basically say that you have to use Charlies on all your laundry for it to work, because of other detergents built up in your washer. I didn’t want to use it on all my laundry because I make my own detergent for everything else. So alas, after one tub of it, I switched back to Rockin’ Green Hard Rock- formulated for hard water. It worked well for a few months, until my little guy started on solids. Then no matter what I did, tried using more, etc. I couldn’t get the diapers to smell clean. They smelled just yucky! That’s when I took the advice I had seen from veteran moms and tried Tide. Maaaagic! Seriously! No more stinkies and I have only had to strip some prefolds once because they had detergent build up. I use 2 tablespoons. That’s it! Every once in a while, I will bleach my micro fiber Softbums inserts, but other than that, I don’t have to strip or anything! Sometimes I do it just because, but it’s never because I feel that I need to do so. Alright, enough about that.
What about the drying?
I LOVE hang drying when it’s feasible to do so outside on my clothesline. The sun is a natural stain fighter and kills bacteria! Not everyone has a clothesline though, hanging them on a table or chairs is fine too. When I first started I was so anal about stains(haha) that my December baby’s diapers were hung on the back of chairs near our living room window. Now? I throw them in the dryer. I’ve got too much going on with kids in two different schools, a terrible twos dude and daycare kids, not to mention a house, husband and dog J I do hang dry my covers and wetbags, for longevity, but all inserts and wipes go into the dryer. Sometimes even wet bags and covers go in the dryer if I need a certain one right away. Hasn’t hurt them yet!
Other Obstacles
Now we get to the trickier stuff. Apartments and working outside of the home moms. I personally know a few full time work out of the home moms who cloth diaper. They say it can be tricky, but very do-able. Since I personally have no experience with that, it’s something I feel you have to figure out what works best for yourself.
Apartments I can definitely help with! I suggest a Haier portable washing machine. Order online at and have it shipped site to store. This way shipping is free! I suggested one to a friend because she lives in an apartment and she loves it! Let me tell you the $200-$400 price will pay for itself in no time if you have coin-op laundry or have to take your laundry to a laundry mat! It just hooks right up to your kitchen or bathroom faucet and runs like a normal washing machine! The loads are definitely smaller, so you may have to wash more often, but I’d rather do that than spend $3 a load to wash and dry my diapers and clothes! Then just pick up a drying rack to dry your diapers. I have one just so I could hang dry in my house in the winter. Love it!
So you see, cloth diapers can be as hard, or as easy as you want them to be. Most want it easy. And that’s what I try to suggest and make it. I have a new friend that wanted to cloth diaper, but was discouraged to do so because they didn’t have hot water hooked up to their washing machine. I asked her why not try and see what happened? The worst that would happen was that it just wouldn’t work out. Guess what, she tried cloth anyways, and loves it! And has been successfully washing in just cold water for a couple months now. Sometimes all it takes is a little faith in yourself that you can do it. Let’s face it, we moms rock!


Washing Cloth Diapers in Hard Water

So I was on one of my Cloth Diaper groups on Facebook and came across a mama asking how to clean her diapers better in hard water. So I decide to talk about hard water and cloth diapers on today’s post.

 How do I know if I have hard water?

The easiest test to do to see if you have hard water is just take a bar of soap in a sink full of water and if it lather up easy with lots of bubbles then you have soft water, but if it doesn’t right away or you don’t get lots of bubbles then you have hard water. Other signs of hard water are dingy looking clothes, clothes that feel hard or scratchy, film left on a glass shower door or walls, water spots left on clean dishes, and dull looking hair. You can also have your water company test the water to see just how hard it is.

What does this mean to my cloth diapers?

The issue hard water poses is that the minerals in the water can block the detergent from being able to clean effectively. Hard water also causes build up on your diapers which can lead to Smelly diapers and repelling.

 What Can I do to clean my diapers more effectively?

There are a few things you can do. You can buy Detergent made for cleaning cloth diapers in hard water. Examples: Hard Rock (Rockin’ Green for hard water), Crunchy Clean hard water version Use a water softener to make your detergent more efficient. We recommend using Calgon Water Softener (NOT Calgon bath products). Calgon Water Softener is considered safe for use on all types of cloth diapers. Calgon can also be used for stripping diapers, especially for areas with especially hard water. Just wash clean diapers 3-4 times with hot water and Calgon (no detergent). As always, be sure to rinse thoroughly!

 Strip Your Diapers Often!

Since you have hard water this is just something you are going to have to add to your regular routine. I myself strip my diapers about once a month and I have Soft water, you may want to strip them every two to three weeks or whenever you notice your diapers are getting stinky or repelling. This will help your diapers stay clean.

I hope this has helped some of your Clean questions. Please email us if there is a question that you would like answered or leave a post on twitter or our Letjoy Facebook Page and we will answer your questions as best we can.

Happy Cloth Diapering

Diapers Smelling Like Ammonia?

If your Cloth diapers are smelling like ammonia even after you wash them you could have a problem. There could be one of three reasons for ammonia smelling diapers.

1. Detergent buildup . This is usually caused by using too much detergent or not the right kind of detergent. Many people say that they don’t have any problems using Tide or other mainstream detergents, but for others these detergents cause buildup or rashes. A lot of these detergents contain optical brighteners, enzymes, fabric softeners and other chemicals that can build up on diapers. Stripping the diapers and changing detergents or amount of the detergent used can usually solve this problem.

2. Mineral buildup . If you have hard water, minerals can build up in the fabric. Using a mineral remover such as RLR laundry treatment can help. Using a detergent specially made for hard water can also help, or even Borax to the wash could clear this up by making the detergent work better at getting the diapers clean.

3. Your diapers may not be getting clean enough. Sometimes adding a little more detergent is all you need. For others, you may need to change your wash routine. What works best for us is a cold rinse, followed by a hot wash with then two cold rinses. Also adding Borax could help your diapers get cleaner.

If your diapers are smelling like ammonia it is time to strip your diapers.

How to strip cloth diapers in a top loader washing machine:

* Wash diapers as usual. No need to dry them.

* Add 1-2 Tablespoons of dish detergent (blue Dawn works best) to your washer and wash diapers on hot. Soaking for a few hours can help too. DO NOT add extra detergent or use more than this amount, you will find yourself in a bad sitcom episode as you scoop up acres of bubbles.

* Rinse, rinse, rinse the diapers until there are no bubbles left when the machine.

How to strip cloth diapers in a front loader washing machine:

In a front loader, you will likely get way too many bubbles if you try this. So, soak the diapers in a sink, bucket or bathtub in a little dish detergent and hot water. Then rinse them as well as you can. Then run a hot wash cycle with no detergent and repeat until there are no bubbles left.

Sunlight is a great way to help keep odors and stains at bay. Line dry your diapers as often as you can.