Since switching to cloth diapers in March 2013, I have tweaked my laundry routine every now and again. Most recently with the end of summer, I have started hanging up all my diapers including my inserts to air dry. Cloth diapering including cloth diaper laundry is such a personal experience for each cloth diaperer. After some experimenting over the past two and a half years, I have my cloth diaper wash routine down to a science that works for me, my baby, and my cloth diapers.
First, although I do get mineral buildup in my sinks and tub and some orange stains in my toilet and shower, I recently discovered that my household water is only slightly hard and only slightly alkaline. Using at home test strips, I determined that my water hardness is between 3 and 7 and that my water pH is between 7.5 and 8. In other words, my water is fairly neutral compared to other waters.
I wash my cloth diaper laundry on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. Between washing, I store the dirty diapers inside a pail liner in a garbage can with a lid. By the night before wash day, the lid on the can no longer closes. Sometimes the lid also gets stuck open, so my dirty diapers are never stored in an airtight container. I also keep a laundry basket for clothes and towels near my diaper pail. If a load of cloth diaper laundry is especially small one day, I grab a few towels out of the laundry basket to toss in with the diapers.
On wash day, I start by filling my old-fashioned top-loading washer with warm water and setting the wash cycle to heavy. Because our water heater is set to non-scald temperatures, the warm water is pretty much lukewarm. On Mondays or days with a lot of diaper laundry, I set the washer to a full load. On Wednesdays and Fridays, I typically use the medium water setting. In other words, I use more water for larger loads of laundry. I also do not run my diapers through an initial rinse without detergent because I found the practice used additional water without any noticeable change in the cleanliness of my diapers.
As the washer starts to fill, I pour in two to three tablespoons of Classic Rock Rockin’ Green laundry detergent and one to two tablespoons of OxiClean. For larger loads such as on Mondays, I use the larger amount of detergent and OxiClean. After the warm heavy wash, my washer performs a cold rinse on the clean diapers. After the initial cold rinse, I run the clean diapers through a second cold rinse cycle to remove any remaining detergent.
After washing my diapers, I hang both the inserts and the diapers to dry on the laundry rack in my basement laundry room. (Note that I hang the covers and various styles of diapers long ways to prevent excess stress on the leg elastics.) I keep a fan running in the laundry room at all times for air circulation. To make the fan extra efficient, I keep the blades pointed towards my drying rack. Most of the time, my diapers dry completely overnight. Some of my inserts and all-in-ones with natural fibers do remain slightly damp even after 12 hours. However, because I wash our regular laundry on Tuesdays and Thursdays, I can then toss any damp diapers or inserts in my dryer with the next load of clothing. By allowing my diaper laundry to air dry, I have cut down on using my dryer five times a week to only two or three.
One caveat of hanging my diapers to dry is that the practice works better in the fall through spring. During the summer, the humidity in my basement and in my neck of the woods in general is horrendous. The basement dehumidifier runs constantly throughout the summer. I may need to reevaluate air drying my cloth diapers next summer, but for now I am content with not running m dryer so often.
As I reiterate often, cloth diapering is an extremely personal experience. You as a cloth diaperer must find a laundry routine that works for you, your baby, your water, and your diapers. I personally have found a fairly simple wash routine that works perfectly for me!
What is your cloth diaper laundry routine? Have you recently tweaked the way in which you wash and dry your diapers?
Water Hardness Test Strip © 2014 Heather Johnson
Water pH Test Strip © 2014 Heather Johnson
Rockin’ Green and Generic OxiClean © 2014 Heather Johnson
Air Drying Cloth Diaper Laundry © 2014 Heather Johnson