Saturday, January 22, 2011

Washing Cloth Diapers

So far, washing cloth diapers has really not been very difficult.  First things first.  We needed two diaper pails - one to keep downstairs (where we spend most of our time) and one for upstairs in the nursery (for nighttime changes).  I bought simple plastic trashcans from Walmart with lids.  I got our  pail liners from Amazon - Kissa's Antibacterial Pail Liners.  They are basically just large, waterproof trash can liners.

These pail liners have worked very well.  When I put the diapers in the wash, I just dump them in the washing machine, turning the pail liner inside out, and wash the liner right along with the diapers.  I also dry them in the dryer with the diapers.  My only complaint about these is that the seams in the bottom were not sewn properly.  After the first couple of washes, the seams came unraveled.  Luckily, my mom was visiting and she fixed them for me.  (Thanks, Mom!)  They were cheap ($15 for 2 liners), so I guess I can't really complain.

When I'm out with the babies, I need something to hold the dirty diapers until I get home.  I use Kushies Wet Bags that I also purchased at Amazon.  When we have a dirty diaper on the road, I put it in the wet bag and pull the drawstring.  It's waterproof and air-proof enough that I've never had any kind of odor problem.  When I get home, I turn this inside out into the diaper pail liner and wash it along with the diapers.

At home, when I change one of the babies' diapers, I just throw the diaper and the cover into the lined trash can.  The babies are currently exclusively breastfed, so their poop is yellow, seedy breastfeeding poop.  Believe it or not, you don't have to clean the poop off before you put them in the trash can.  I remember being very nervous about this, worrying that the pail was going to really stink.  It only smells after a couple days right before we wash the diapers.

To wash the diapers, I bought some Charlie's Soap on eBay.  I bought a 5-gallon bucket, which is enormous!  It's supposed to wash something like 1280 loads, so we should never have to buy detergent again for the rest of our lives.  =)  (But it was a great cost per load, so it was the most economical choice in the long run.)  Charlie's Soap seems to be the most popular diaper soap that I could find online for washing cloth diapers.  I read lots of great reviews for it.  It's hypoallergenic, dye-free, fragrance-free and environmentally friendly.  (Instead of scooping it directly from the ginormous bucket, I scoop it from an old oatmeal container.  It's easier to manage and I spill less of the soap in the process.  I only refill the oatmeal container from the large bucket every few weeks.)  We also use the Charlie's Soap for all of our regular laundry, and I really like it.  It's supposed to be great for sensitive skin.

We wash the diapers every two days, usually in the morning.  You probably wouldn't want to go more than 2 days, because the trash cans would start to have an odor.  On wash day, I turn the pail liners inside out into the washing machine.  First, I do a rinse/soak cycle with cold water.  This cycle is important because you want to use cold water to rinse away the poo (I think warm or hot water will actually set the stains).  Next, I add the Charlie's Soap and do a hot wash.  The hot wash is also important because the hot water helps to disinfect the diapers.  Finally, we do an additional cold rinse (in addition to the cold rinse that automatically happens after the hot wash) to be sure that the soap is completely rinsed away.

I dry the diaper covers and wet bags on a dry rack, and I put the cotton prefolds, cloth wipes and pail lines in the clothes dryer.  The covers usually only take a few hours to air dry.  The prefolds take a long drying cycle to get completely dry.  The heat of the dryer also helps to disinfect the prefolds.  This summer, I would like to try to dry some of our diapers outside in the sun.  I'm not sure whether we'll actually make that happen or not, but I would like to try it.  I hear that the sun is an excellent disinfectant and it helps to remove stains.

So the only real work involved in cloth diapering for us is an extra load of laundry every 2 days.  I would definitely say that it's worth the reduced impact on the environment and on our budget.  (Though our water bill and our electricity bill are higher than they used to be, I still think that cloth diapering, especially using prefolds, is much less expensive than buying disposable diapers.)

As the babies start eating solid foods, we'll be installing a diaper sprayer.  And I hear that the poo gets much more "interesting."  I'll keep you updated.  ;-)

No comments:

Post a Comment