With the increased awareness of the environment and sustainability practices, there comes the question as to whether cold water may be used to wash cloth diaper laundry. The environmentalist in me would like to say yes, don’t waste energy on hot water. After all, many detergents are now geared toward cold water washing. I use cold water on my dark laundry, and on anything that does not need a deep cleaning. I did try to use cold water on my towels, but they had an odor afterward. Maybe it was the detergent I was using, maybe it is the amount, maybe it just needs a longer cycle with more water. But if I have to wash my laundry longer and/or use more water, would that take out the sustainable benefit achieved from not using hot water?
Cloth diapers are certainly in a different category that most other laundry. They have soil and germs that must be cleaned and rinsed away, stains that need to be lifted, and layers of fabric to clean through. An adequate amount of detergent and water must be used to achieve clean diapers. But what about hot/warm water vs cold?
My answer would be yes, but not as well. According to my findings, warm rinses and hot washes win in the diaper arena. Thirsties previously recommended a cold pre-wash, hot wash, and two cold rinses. We have adapted our care instructions to a warm prewash, hot wash, and two warm rinses. We believe that this routine will clean and rinse your diapers most effectively. Our washing instructions conform to the RDA recommendations – a trusted source by consumers and businesses alike. Take a look at why it is recommended to use warmer water temperatures for washing cloth diapers:
- Warm Pre-wash – soil is more easily removed at the temperature it is put in at (body temperature is warm)
- Hot Wash – many detergents are activated and/or work better at hot temperatures, powder detergents are dissolved at hotter temperatures, yeast is killed at temps over 122 Fahrenheit
- Two Warm Rinses – residues are released more effectively, more water will release from the fabric shortening drying time
Now keep in mind, this is not to say that you cannot achieve clean diapers with cold water. If you do want or need to use cold water for your laundry, then it is recommended to add additional liquid detergent, more water, and/or additional wash time. The RDA has a great article titled Laundry Science that is very helpful in understanding the factors in washing, and how to adjust the wash routine if needed.
What is the routine that works best for you?