Joining us today to discuss how cloth diapering can be an easy way to make a big, green difference is Kimberly Webb, the CEO and founder of Rockin’ Green, an award-winning manufacturer of eco-friendly cleaning products designed to make cleaning easier and greener. Rockin’ Green’s Laundry Detergent was named “Best Natural Laundry Detergent” by About.com’s readers in April of 2012.
It’s Easy to be Green: Five Steps to Washing Cloth Diapers
What’s one way to be a greener parent this year? Cloth diapers of course!
Did you know that each year billions of disposable diapers enter landfills where it takes hundreds of years for them to decompose? In fact, in the U.S. and Canada, nearly 90 percent of babies are diapered in disposables, meaning 60,000 diapers will enter landfills in ONE MINUTE, according to The Real Diaper Association.
However, the good news is that cloth diaper sales have grown by over 30 percent in recent years as more Americans choose cloth diapers. Plus, an added bonus is that families can save an average of $2,000 by choosing cloth diapers and more money when the diapers are used for more than one child.
So whether you are thinking about cloth diapering, new to it, or have been doing it for years, one question moms and dads always want to know is: what is the best way to launder my baby’s cloth diapers? Long gone are the days of dunking, soaking and swirling cloth diapers. Today’s modern cloth diapers wash easily at home.
That said, figuring out the perfect routine to be sure the diapers are rinsed clean and smelling fresh can be a bit tricky, especially when you consider what you are washing out of them. While the process works a little different for everyone, the best advice is to keep it simple.
Here are five tips to help you successfully wash your cloth diapers:
Start Simple. First, dump your dirty diapers into the washer and run a rinse/wash to get the nasties out prior to the wash cycle. Next, add detergent and run a regular hot wash cycle. On average, use only 2 to 3 tablespoons per load; and for HE (High Efficiency) machines or those with soft water use only 1 to 2 tablespoons. If you see any soap suds in the wash, run a rinse cycle.
Find Balance. Swish (or agitation) is a very important component of any good wash routine. The diapers need to not only move around in the washer, but they also need to rub up against one another. With too many diapers in one load, they just rotate around the washer in a bunch and with not enough diapers, they swim around the washer blissfully (and dirtily) unaware of their neighbors. So if you have a top loader, load the machine to the halfway point. For a front loader, you want to have enough items in the drum so you can put a hands width between the top of the drum and the clothing. Then, wash away!
Temperature Perfection. Most machines have three settings: cold, warm or hot, but here’s how to set it for cloth diapers. Do a rinse on cold, a wash on hot, and then another rinse on cold. However there are some variables as temperature can also play a part when it comes to stains. Did you know that the best way to treat a stain is by rinsing it out at the same temperature that the stain was created? So leave the cold rinsing for ice cream stains, and move the dial to warm for poop stains.
Locate Soap. It’s important to find a laundry detergent that works for you. There are cloth diapering laundry detergents that are specifically formulated to clean dirty diapers, but you can also use some regular detergents as long it rinses clean and works with your water type. You should check with your cloth diaper’s manufacturer for recommended detergents to ensure you don’t ruin your diapers by using soaps that leave heavy soap sud residue, which can cause the diapers to leak. Remember, having the right detergent is often the key to cloth diapering success.
“Rock a Soak.” If you have done all of the above, or just after a couple months, you think your diapers need a little more TLC, try to “Rock a Soak.” Here’s how it works: 1.) Fill your washer (or bathtub) with hot water. Add three tbsps of laundry detergent and your cloth diapers; 2.) Let the items soak for approximately 30-60 minutes (or longer); 3.) Launder as usual. You can repeat this process any time your diapers need a good deep cleaning or you notice your cloth diapers are leaking, stinking or staining. “Rock a Soak” also works great on your family’s towels and linens—you’ll be surprised what comes out of presumably clean items. Note: If you have a HE machine, you may have to consult your manual but you can usually do a soak by pressing the start or pause button.
Voila – now it’s time to enjoy your clean diaper fluff! Just remember—the key to finding the perfect routine for laundering your cloth diapers involves a bit of trial and error. Follow these easy steps and you’ll be well on your way to diapering and laundering success…and fast!
Disclaimer: Always check with your diaper manufacturer regarding recommended wash procedure and temperature thresholds, especially when PUL is involved.
Sources: The Real Diaper Association & The Real Diaper Industry Association