The most common questions about cloth diapering revolve around laundry. How do I get them prepped to use? What’s a good wash routine? Do I prewash? Rinse? Hot or warm? Line dry?
Well, our customer service guru, Jessica, addressed many of the basics of diaper laundry in a recent #ThirstiesLive discussion and we’re ecstatic to be able to share her topic with you here today. For more great advice and cloth diaper topics, be sure to check in with the Thirsties team every Friday at 1PM MST on Facebook and 1:45PM MST on Instagram for #ThirstiesLive.
You can find this information and much more at our Customer Center section of our website, as well. (The pull-down area will allow you to find your specific concern.)
First things first, though.
Before using cloth diapers, it’s important to launder them properly. This will ensure that any natural oils are removed from the product and your diapers are sufficiently absorbent to keep baby dry.
That said, synthetic diapering materials and products (often including covers) only need one warm wash with detergent. However, diapers and inserts that contain hemp and/or organic cotton will need at least three warm washes with detergent.
Air drying between prep washes fluffs the fabric and helps attain absorbency.
Your Basic Wash Routine
Before laundry day, there are steps you can take to make laundering your diapers simpler and to help your diapers have a longer lifetime. Be sure to remove all solid waste before placing your diapers in a wet bag or dry pail.
Also close your diapers’ hook and loop laundry tabs.
When dealing with overnight diapers, you may want to spray them (whether soiled with a solid or just a liquid).
Thirsties recommends washing every other day, but just be sure not to go more than three days before washing. For a top loading machine, a max load size would be 18 to 24 diapers. For a front loading HE machine, launder 12 to 15 diapers max load size at a time.
The Main Event
Cloth diaper laundry doesn’t have to be complicated. If you just remember that it’s a 3-step process: 1. prewash 2. hot wash 3. extra rinse.
Start by prewashing your load on warm with small amount of detergent, if desired. Depending on your machine, this can be a prewash cycle or a quick wash cycle. The Real Diaper Association recommends a warm prewash to aid in removal of waste and a cold prewash aids in stain-lifting, so choose depending on your needs.
Next, run the load on heavy in hot water with detergent. When choosing detergent, consider temperature (which should not exceed 130 degrees). Also avoid white or sanitize cycles because they are hard on diaper components.
Agitation is another important factor. Use enough water so that the diapers have room to move around. Don’t use too much water, though, so that the diapers are unable to agitate together. When looking at it, it should be more of a “stew” than a “broth.”
Extra Warm Rinse
This one’s pretty self explanatory. Just do a final rinse in warm! Easy as that.
The best choice for a long-term life of your diapers is air drying. If you’re hoping to make your diapers last for several children or just want to treat them the best, consider using a rack or hanging system to dry your diapers.
When using a dryer, anything with TPU or elastics should be dried on low. Prefolds, inserts, AIOs, etc may be dried on medium. It may surprise you to know that a monthly 15-minute hot dryer cycle is good for diapers’ lamination. Oh, and consider adding wool dryer balls or a clean dry towel to all dryer cycles.
We hope that these suggestions will help you master your own cloth diaper laundry. Again, these are just the basics and there are sometimes exceptions, but this should provide a good starting routine.