How to wash & care for your diapers
How do I wash my cloth diapers?
- It is best to wash your diapers every 2 to 3 days. Place all of the diapers into the washer and run an initial rinse cycle (preferably cold as it will help to keep stains out of your diapers). Add your detergent (we love Rockin' Green Classic Rock as it will truly get your diapers clean!) and set your machine on the highest water level setting and wash your diapers in hot water. I like to give my diapers an extra rinse cycle - cold is fine for this - but this final rinse is not absolutely necessary unless your baby has sensitive skin, or you find that you have a tendency to use too much soap (you only need to use 1 TBSP of Rockin' Green for a front load washing machine or 2 TBSP for a top load). Some people like to add vinegar to the last rinse to soften the diapers, it is also a natural disinfectant. You can wash PUL covers, fleece covers, AIO diapers, Hybrid Diapers, Prefolds, Fitteds .... all of your cloth diapers together at the same time. WOOL needs to be washed separately. We recommend that you air dry your PUL covers to prolong their lifespan.
What detergent should I use?
- If you don't want to use Rockin' Green that's fine :) Just be sure to use a good quality detergent on your diapers. Don't use detergents with a high concentration of soap in them like Ivory Snow as this will coat the cotton fibers with a residue that makes the fabric water-repellent rather than water-absorbing. Go to your local grocery store and ask which is their most popular detergent - this is likely the detergent that will work best for you (and the harness / softness of your water). It is best to use a detergent without perfumes (scents). Diapers are made up of many layers of fabric and if you use too much detergent, the suds get trapped in between the layers. When this combines with urine, the smell can be just awful. If your diapers already smell, give them a few washes without any detergent at all or "Rock A Soak" with some Rockin' Green (soak them in your bath tub with 6 TBSP of Rockin' Green, or just pause your washing machine during it's washing cycle for a couple of hours).
Should I use laundry boosters, vinegar or baking soda?
- Some people like to use a laundry booster like So Clean with their detergent, if you use Rockin' Green then you likely won't need any boosters at all!
How do I wash wool diaper covers?
- Wool covers need some special care but it is well worth the bit of extra effort. Once a wool cover has been lanolized it can be used for several weeks before it needs to be cleaned again, unless it becomes soiled sooner. Wool is naturally antibacterial and when you wash in Eucalan Woolwash, you are adding the natural antibacterial properties of Eucalyptus. These help to keep your covers smelling fresh. To use Eucalan, simply add ½ teaspoon of the woolwash to ½ gallon (2 litres) of water. Submerge the diaper cover and soak it at least 15 minutes. Swish it initially to saturate the fibers, the leave it to soak for the remaining time, giving it another swish or two during this time. If necessary, weigh the cover down so that it stays immersed in the water. Do not rinse. Drain the water. Gently squeeze excess water out by hand (do not wring). You can then roll the cover in a towel and squeeze out more water, then lay the cover out to finish drying. You can wash your wool in a washing machine, just be sure to leave the cover of the machine open to keep the items soaking, you should wash them in your gentle / hand wash cycle.
If you are not using a Eucalan product, you will have to add an extra step. When you have finished washing your cover with a wool-safe soap, rinse and squeeze out as much moisture as possible. Add ½ teaspoon of lanolin (1 teaspoon for a large cover) to 2 litres (½ gallon) of warm water. Soak your cover for 10-15 minutes giving it a few swishes to coat all the fibers. Drain and dry as above.
My diapers smell. How do I fix this?
- There are several reasons that diapers can begin to smell. One common reason is not washing frequently enough. Wash your diapers at least every 2 to 3 days. Line dry in the sun to remove this smell. Another reason your diapers may be smelly is that you are using a wet pail. Switching to a dry pail can help solve this problem. "ROCK A SOAK!" Use Rockin' Green to soak your diapers in and you'll have fresh smelling diapers again!
Dry pail or wet pail?
- Whether to use a wet pail or dry pail system depends on a couple of things
- Money - a pail costs quite a bit more than a Wet Bag does.
- Do you have toddlers running around who might get into a pail of poopy water? Trust me you don't want this to happen!
- Do you care if your diapers get stained?
If you don't want stains in your diapers then going with a wet pail is the way to go. Take your pail (without a liner) and fill it up to about 3/4 full with cold water, then after you've dumped the poop into the toilet place your diapers into the pail. Be sure and change the water every day. If you have a top load then just dump the entire bucket into your washer and do a rinse cycle. Then wash as normal. If you have a front load then you will have to drain the water into the toilet and then transfer your diapers into your washing machine and wash as normal. If you'd rather not use a wet pail system but don't want stains you can always sun your diapers out! This works phonemically well and will surprise you at how your diapers will look like new after only a few hours sun bathing :)
How do I get out stains?
- There are several ways to get stains out of your diapers. Sunshine works very well although it will eventually cause cottons to fade. Hang diapers so that the print side of you diaper is facing away from the sun. Rock A Soak with Rockin' Green this works really well especially when combined with sun bathing. Never use bleach on your diapers. It is a very caustic and toxic substance. It will weaken the fibers of your diapers and ruins elastic and fleece. Using bleach will reduce the lifespan of your diapers considerably.
How do I dry my diapers?
- All of your cloth diapers can be dried in the dryer. Line drying is gentler on your diapers and makes them last longer but is not necessary. It is best to air dry PUL covers to prolong their lifespan.
How many and what kind of diapers do I need?
- There is no single or simple answer to this question. Newborns go through a lot of diapers and they grow very quickly so many parents find that using a diapering system that relies on either Prefolds, Fitted Diapers, Contours, and Diaper Covers is both economical and practical. For newborns, the minimum would be 2 dozen diapers and 4-6 covers - 3 dozen diapers if you were line-drying. You can get a few AIO's too for when you are out of the house, if you want. As your baby gets older and grows into a larger size, you may want to move into a diapering system that is quick and easy to change. Fitteds and/or AIO's are great as your baby gets older and more wiggly at changing time. And if your toddler turns into a diaper Houdini and prefers to be au naturel, you may find that snap diapers work best to keep changing times from becoming a wrestling match and to keep those diapers on! You can probably get away with 18 diapers at this stage, maybe a few more if you line dry. Having a few spares around for wash day is a good idea too. These can be hand-me-downs and don't have to be the best diapers you can buy, just ones to tide you over until your good diapers are clean and dry. But you can use anything in a pinch - a tea towel, hand towel, washcloths - anything that you can lay in a cover will do.
What should I use for nighttime diapering?
- A lot of people are worried about leaking at night - no one wants to have do deal with soggy bedding! There are a few simple tips to make cloth diapering a feasible nighttime option. Make sure you have enough absorbency! "Double-diapering" with your most absorbent diapers should do it, one common double-diapering method is to use a fitted diaper with a folded Prefold lain inside. A fleece-topped doubler will wick moisture away from baby's skin. The proper Diaper Cover is critical. PUL Covers work very well but Wool Covers are excellent bullet proof covers as they allow the diaper to breathe and can hold a lot of moisture themselves without leaking.
How do I use cloth diapers while traveling?
- Traveling and cloth diapering are not as incompatible as you may think! It can easily be done - it just takes a bit of preparation, but it is no different than when you are at home. You may find that a large or XL Wet Bag is what you need to store your dirty diapers. It holds as much or more than a diaper pail and yet it is collapsible and doesn't use any extra space.