All new cloth diapers require at least one initial washing prior to first use. Whenever I buy a new diaper, I toss my purchase in with my next load of diaper laundry. After one wash and dry, my synthetic fiber (microfiber) diapers and inserts are ready for use. Natural fibers like cotton, hemp, and bamboo, however, typically require additional laundering to reach maximum absorbency.
When I started cloth diapering over three years ago, the majority of my stash consisted of microfiber and Stay Dry inserts. I liked the speed with which microfiber dried on laundry day. I also liked that microfiber typically cost less than natural fibers. Because my daughter did not have any issues with synthetic materials, I primarily bought microfiber diapers and inserts for her.
Then I discovered the world of Smart Bottoms all-in-ones. Both the Smart One 3.0 and the Smart One 3.1 that I initially purchased consist of 100% organic cotton for a trimmer, more absorbent diaper. I had primarily used all-in-twos and covers with inserts on my daughter, so all-in-ones were new to me. Then my son arrived last year, and I quickly discovered that all-in-ones worked better on him. I started switching my stash from all-in-twos to all-in-ones.
When I first used my new Smart Bottoms on my daughter, I washed and dried each diaper only once. However, I immediately realized that natural fibers indeed require multiple washings to reach maximum absorbency. My new all-in-ones kept leaking on my daughter after a very short period of time! I almost threw in the towel on the new style of cloth diaper, but, after a few more washes, the cotton all-in-ones stopped leaking. I realized that, yes, I needed to wash and dry my natural fiber diapers more than once in order for the material to become fully absorbent.
I currently wash my diaper laundry on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. After playing around with my prep routine for each new Smart Bottoms all-in-one that I purchased, I came up with some tricks that allowed me to get the diaper ready faster. When the new diaper arrives at my home, I immediately wet all the cotton material and then allow the diaper to air dry. On the next laundry day, I wash the diaper on hot with Rockin’ Green or BioKleen detergent. I then allow the diaper to air dry again. Once the diaper dries a second time, I again wet all the cotton material and hang the diaper to dry a third time. I then fully wash and dry my new diaper a second time, which brings the number of dries to four. Instead of spending two weeks prepping the diaper while following my regular laundry routine, I am able to get my new Smart Bottoms all-in-one ready for use in only four days.
Smart Bottoms recommends washing a new diaper six to eight times prior to first use. I have found that four times is sufficient. I do have to change my son more often the first few times he wear a new Smart Bottoms diaper to prevent leaks, but, after washing and drying the all-in-one a few more times, the cotton fibers reach maximum absorbency.
To recap: Natural fibers like the cotton in Smart Bottoms cloth diapers require multiple washes to reach maximum absorbency. However, I have found that I can speed up the preparation process by simply wetting the cotton and allowing the diaper to dry a few times instead of performing six to eight full wash and dry cycles. I can then use the diaper more quickly with the caveat that the material becomes fully absorbent after a few more washes. And I certainly do love getting the adorable prints and colors from Smart Bottoms on my kiddos faster — even if I do have to change the diaper more quickly the first few times.
Do you have any tips for prepping natural fiber cloth diapers and inserts more quickly?
Unprepped Smart Bottoms All-in-One © 2015 Heather Johnson
Washing a Smart Bottoms All-in-One © 2015 Heather Johnson
Drying a Smart Bottoms All-in-One © 2015 Heather Johnson