There are several ways you can store your diapers. We first tried the wet pail method (where you essentially keep them in a container with water) but it got sooooo stinky. yucko. I then bought a stainless steel garbage pail and a pail liner and that’s been perfect! No smell (and we keep it in our bedroom, so that matters), and super easy. When it’s laundry day, I dump the whole bag, liner and all, into the washer and that’s that.
The kind of detergent you get is really important! You can’t just use your regular stuff, as it will cause buildup on your diapers and eventually render them ineffective. There are a lot of great brands, but you just need to try some out and find out what works best for you. Our first detergent cleaned great, but gave Jay sores. We switched to Seventh Generation and haven’t had any problems! I found this chart really useful in picking out our detergent.
I’m going to be honest here…when it comes to washing, your washer makes a difference. If you have a new fancy energy efficient washer, you might have to do extra washes because many people say they’re not as effective at cleaning diapers. Older top-loading washers with central agitators clean the best. We have a Speed Queen and looove it.
I wash diapers about every 2-3 days as that’s how long it takes us to get through our stash of 24. I generally do 3 loads to get clean, no-stink diapers:
1) Cold – No detergent this time…we’re just getting the poop out
2) Hot – I use about 1 Tbsp of detergent, but you need to play around with it and see how much your washer and diapers need
3) Cold- Makes sure no detergent or residue is left
Note: Don’t skip the last cycle! I made the mistake of thinking it wasn’t necessary, and after several months ended up with really stinky diapers, which I then had to strip.
As far as water level and cycle, generally, the more water you use, the cleaner the diapers. Obviously heavy washes clean better also, but there’s definitely some wiggle room. Do some experimenting and find what combination works best for you and your washing machine. Even with a full 24 diapers, I rarely have to use a high water level or heavy cycle.
Eventually, you might have to strip your diapers. The reality of cloth is that no matter how well you take care of them, you’ll probably end up with some buildup. Good news is that stripping is really easy! 5-6 hot (but not boiling) loads should do the trick!
Hang drying diapers in the sun is really the best method as the sun bleaches any stains out (it really does work!), but if I’m honest, we hardly ever do that. With a toddler and a baby, well, you know the saying “ain’t nobody got time for that!” 95% of the time, we just throw them on our drying rack at night and they’re dry by the next morning. You can also machine dry the inserts, but we prefer to save the energy if we can. (Note: most covers should not be put in the dryer, but follow your manufacturer’s instructions)
So let’s quickly review all of the aspects of care:
- Use (pre-stuff or on the fly)
- Store (garbage can with pail liner)
- Cold wash, hot wash, cold wash (with proper detergent)
- Hang dry (outside or on drying rack)
See, totally doable…if you’re thinking about cloth diapering, take the plunge! It’s worth it and so manageable. If you have any other questions you’d like me to address, leave a comment and I’ll be happy to answer them!