Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Don't be intimidated by washing cloth diapers! Read these FIVE tips.

For most parents who are used to disposable diapers, the idea of washing diapers is the biggest obstacle to switching to cloth diapers. And even if you aren't intimidated by the idea of poop in your washing machine, a little research is enough to scare many families out of making the switch. Many websites give detailed instructions for washing cloth diapers, complete with lists of detergents to avoid, warnings about hard water and high-efficiency machines, and advice for additional products you need like oxygen bleach or tea tree oil. But washing cloth diapers doesn't need to be a complicated task. Although you may need to reference this information if your diapers develop a problem like leaking or smelling, many cloth diapering families will never need to deal with these issues. If you want to keep your washing routine as simple as possible, here are some tips to keep in mind.

1. Choose diapers with natural fibers. Most of the complicated washing advice like the need for special detergents and regular stripping applies more to diapers with synthetic fibers like microfleece. The simpler your diapers, the simpler your washing machine can be. Flats or prefolds are made of plain cotton and can usually be washed in most detergents without problem (although extra rinses are always a good idea). Buildup is possible on any diaper, but it's less likely on simpler cotton diapers.

2. Start simple, and make changes if necessary. The best way to get started with cloth is to choose a wash routine that makes sense for you and requires little change from your previous routine. Rather than buying special detergent for your cloth diapers, try your favorite detergent and see how it works. Just be prepared to strip if your diapers do develop problems.

3. Simplify your stash and follow the manufacturer's guidelines. If you have only one brand of cloth diaper, you can ignore all the conflicting ideas and advice and simply follow the guidelines on the manufacturer's website.

4. When in doubt, rinse. A few extra rinse cycles will solve many of the problems related to your wash routine.

5. Experiment. The best way to find the perfect wash routine is to try different things until you figure out what works best with your diapers, your water, your washing machine, and your baby. No two cloth diapering families have identical laundry factors: the hardness of your water, the sensitivity of your baby, and the specifics of your washing machine will all factor into the effectiveness of your routine.

Finally, keep in mind that getting started is the hardest part. Once you figure out a wash routine that works for you and your diapers, laundering your cloth diapers will feel like even less work than taking out the trash.

Lisa C. Baker is a full-time mom and part-time writer in Atlanta, Georgia. She writes about green parenting topics at Organic Baby Atlanta and teaches workshops on cloth diapers and elimination communication. She's been a mom since 2008 and has never bought a disposable diaper; she hopes she'll never need to!

Photo "cloth diaper laundry" by Busbeytheelder (http://www.flickr.com/photos/busbeytheelder/5654662201/in/photostream/) used by creative commons license.

1 comment:

Jennie said...

Great post! I think it'll esp. help parents new to cloth diapering!

 

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