So you have all your diapers and you’re ready to jump into the world of cloth diapering. All you need is diapers, right? Well, those are definitely the most important items, but since you can’t through them away you’re going to have to wash them. Once they’re dirty, where are you going to keep them until you wash them? These are some very important questions that I had to figure out when I decided to use cloth with W. Now, there are a number of amazing accessories out there that can help you on your cloth diapering journey. You can find diaper creams, disposable liners, Snappis, pails and pail liners, and even pail deodorizers! You can also find cloth wipes, wipes solution, and diaper sprayers. I could go on for days about all of these things so I’ve decided to focus on the accessories I use for the whole laundry side of cloth diapering.
I’ll begin by saying that just as every family is unique and everyone’s cloth diaper stash is unique, I know everyone’s method of doing the cloth diaper laundry is unique. The most important thing you can do is take in all the information you can and then figure out what works for you and your family! It might take some time to figure out a routine that works best for you or you may fall into one right away. Your routine may change with time too! You never know what might happen but above all else, my advice is to do what works best for you! There are definitely a few things that work great for us and I want to share those with you today.
How do I store these diapers once they’re used? What’s a diaper pail? What’s the difference between a wet bag and a wet/dry bag?
These were the first questions that I did a lot of research on when it came to figuring out how I wanted to do this cloth diapering thing. The idea of a diaper pail never appealed to me at all. At first, I was thinking of some pail full of water or something that the diapers would soak in. Once I did a bit more research and learned that a dry pail was a better idea, I still didn’t love the idea of some sort of diaper pail sitting around somewhere in my house. I also couldn’t quite figure out where it would go. Space is at a premium in our house, so I really wanted something that wouldn’t be taking up a bunch of space. We also spend most of our time downstairs and our living room/dining room/kitchen area is all really open. I didn’t want a diaper pail of dirty diapers sitting in the living room. It became clear that I wanted something different!
Through my research, I’d learned a lot about wet bags and figured I would need a few. I knew I would need one for my diaper bag that was in the middle of the size range so it could fit a few diapers in it. I also knew I would need something for when W eventually went to a childcare provider. I figured that it would need to be on the larger side to ensure that there was enough room for a day’s worth of diapers. Of course that all depended on finding a childcare provider who was willing to use cloth. I’m pleased to say that we have found a wonderful mom at my school who will be watching W in the fall and he will be wearing cloth! As I continued to research, I ran across someone who used a wet bag at home too. She just hung it on the side of her baby’s changing table and threw the used diapers right in it when she was done changing the baby. Once I read this, I knew I had found my answer!
I was lucky enough to win a Hanging Wet/Dry Bag in the Geometric Studio design from Planet Wise in a blog giveaway while I was pregnant. The handles on the bag are perfect for hanging on a removable hook I put on the inside of the door of our downstairs bathroom. It’s the perfect solution for keeping a diaper pail out of the living room! We also have a hook on the inside of the closet door in W’s room but he doesn’t sleep in his room and we don’t change him there because we don’t walk all the way upstairs when he needs a clean diaper. But it’s there in case we need it in the future. This Hanging Wet/Dry Bag is perfect because it holds 20-24 diapers so we don’t have to do diaper laundry every day.
If you haven’t heard about the Planet Wise Hanging Wet/Dry Bag before, check out some of the wonderful features it has:
We only use the Wet/Dry Bag as a wet bag at this point but it has some amazing features and I really like this bag a lot. I have considered using it for when W goes to his childcare provider in the fall because we could put the clean diapers in the dry side and then dirty in the wet, but I love the way it hangs on our door so perfectly. Plus. we have a second large Planet Wise Wet Bag that I got for us to use upstairs and later for childcare. We haven’t used it in awhile because W doesn’t need a middle of the night diaper change anymore. So, this is the wet bag I plan to send with him in the fall. It also features a small handle on the side so it can be hung and it holds 16-17 diapers which is more than enough to cover a day. But I may end up switching them in August. We’ll have to wait and see!
Our diaper bag wet bag is also a Planet Wise wet bag. It is a medium in chocolate brown. As all of the other wet bags from Planet Wise, it also features a zipper closure which I think is essential to a good wet bag. It works great for the diaper bag as it holds approximately 8-9 diapers. Of course, once it gets more than two wet diapers in it, I have to carry it separately. When that happens, I do wise it also had a handle so I could hook it on the diaper bag. Other than that, I love all of our Planet Wise Wet Bags and haven’t tried any other brand yet! Sometimes you have to go with the don’t fix it if it’s not broken approach!
What is our solution for storing wet/dirty diapers? A hanging wet bag on a hook inside the bathroom door!
How do I clean these things? Do I just throw my cloth diapers in with the rest of my laundry?
This was one of my biggest questions. I wanted to make sure I was washing my diapers correctly! This led me to hours and hours of research on how people wash their diapers. I read about families who did a rinse in the sink or the toilet and then a rinse in the washing machine before running the wash cycle with two rinses at the end. Reading complicated laundry routines started to make me a bit nervous. It did sound like a lot more laundry than before which is always one of the arguments against cloth diapering. It sure sounded like a lot of extra water and energy use! Not to mention that it sounded like it would take a lot of extra time to get my diapers clean!
So I took a deep breath and a chill pill and realized that we would figure out how it worked for us. I had already learned that babies that were breastfed had water-soluble poop so those could just go straight into the wash with the wet diapers. Although I didn’t think about it at the time (as we were struggling with breastfeeding and having to supplement with formula) I was throwing all of them in the bag together and W wasn’t exclusively breastfed. I later read that it is just fine to do with babies who are formula fed as well. Dirty cloth diapers from formula fed babies can be tossed in the laundry too. I will tell you that we never had a problem. Our diapers always came out clean and we haven’t had any staining issues. So now you’re thinking I must have some elaborate washing routine to have avoided any staining. Well, I don’t! I don’t swish, dunk, pre-rinse, or much of anything extra. We usually wash diapers every 2-3 days and our we don’t wash our diapers with any other laundry. Here is what works for us:
- Remove the diaper, stick the laundry tabs if using hook and loop, and drop in the wet bag.
- When the bag is full (or if we have a major dirty diaper), we empty it into the washer removing the inserts from any pockets.
- Add detergent.
- Run the washer cycle on hot wash/cold rinse.
- Move to dryer.
- Lay out diapers and inserts as necessary.
See, there is no extra rinse cycles or much prep work at all. I do scrape many of our dirty diapers now that W has started solids because the quantity has definitely increased and is more solid at times. Other than that, I just wash them! Now, I’m not saying that this will work for you, but it seems to work for us and I just want to share that you don’t necessarily have to have some extremely complicated laundry routine to get your diapers clean. This is definitely an area where you just have to try things and see what works.
What is our solution for washing our cloth diapers? We pretty much do the same thing as we do with the rest of our laundry. We wait until we have a load and then we wash it all! Now, there are some minor adjustments we’ve made that you can read about further down in this post, but it’s not a big circus at our house when it’s diaper laundry time. We’ve only added 3-4 loads a week and have not seen any significant increase in our water or electricity bills due to cloth diaper laundry.
What about detergent? Can I use the same detergent I use on our clothes?
If you research these questions on the internet, you’re going to find that there are more than a few opinions. In fact, each diaper maker seems to have their own suggested washing guidelines. If I followed each diapers guidelines I would be washing each diaper in my stash individually! I certainly don’t have time for that although I guess it wouldn’t be a problem if I had a stash that consisted of just one type of diaper. That is not the case though! I will mention that some diaper makers have specific washing instructions that they also base their warranties on so you do want to be aware of types of diapers you have and how you need to care for them if you want to keep the warranty. You should also know how long the warranties last. For example, a warranty that is good for one year from the date of purchase isn’t much use when you bought your diapers at six months pregnant! Of course, I have heard some wonderful stories about certain diaper makers replacing your diapers even past the warranty. I will stop myself from going on about warranties and just get on with it now but I did want to mention it.
Not all laundry detergents are good for cloth diapers. Many can leave detergent build up on your diapers that can cause odors, leaking, and repelling. There are a number of resources online that provide information on cloth diaper safe laundry detergents. I have read articles that say you should never use regular laundry detergent on your cloth diapers but then I have read just as many accounts of parents using detergents (such as Tide Original Powder) that are readily available at the grocery store and never having a problem. Again, it’s figuring out what you’re comfortable with and what works for you! Here’s what we use…
We use All Free & Clear Liquid. Gasp! I know, it’s terrifying that I’m not using a detergent I have to order online! I can get it at any store I walk in to and I even get it on sale sometimes! Maybe this makes me a bad cloth diapering mama and maybe it doesn’t. All I know is that it works well for us. If you look at the cloth diaper detergent charts available it generally gets about 3 out of 4/5 stars. This equates to a general rating of “pretty good” or “average” depending on the terms used. I will admit that after deciding I didn’t want to have to invest in a special cloth diaper detergent, I considered going with Tide Original because I have read many reports of people having great success with it. Then I found the All Free & Clear Liquid on sale and ended up getting a large bottle that we’re still using 6 months later!
I will mention that we don’t use very much detergent when we wash. We use about 1/4 of the recommended amount for the size of the load we do. I think this has really helped us to be successful using the All. I h ave read reports of detergents such as All and Tide leaving build up that leads to diapers leaking and stinking. We have not had any leaking issues and the only stink issues we’ve had are with our Bum Genius AIOs and our Bum Genius microfiber inserts. Using a vinegar rinse and rocking a soak with Rockin’ Green took care of this problem. I will both of these further down in this post.
What is our laundry detergent solution for washing our cloth diapers? We use All Free & Clear that I can pick up when I go grocery shopping. This is not to say that I wouldn’t love to try some of the many cloth diaper detergents that are available! I recently got the chance to try Rockin’ Green Cloth Diaper Detergent and I was excited. Hey, I will even admit to the fact that I considered making my own detergent! For now, the All Free & Clear works for us, so I’m sticking to it.
How do I get my cloth diapers dry?
There are a few options for drying your diapers. You can use your dryer, you can lay/hang them out somewhere in your house, or you can lay/hang them outside. We use our dryer to get most of the work done. We haven’t seen a significant jump in our electricity bill either so it’s not a big deal for us. Normally, we run the diapers through a cycle in the dryer and then lay them out over a half wall we have right near our laundry to continue air drying if needed. We have not had any trouble with any of our elastics which I have read is one of the complaints about drying diapers in the dryer. We do let them cool completely before getting them out and using them or laying them out.
Now that summer is here, I look forward to laying them outside and letting them benefit from the HOT temperatures and the sun! We do not have a clothesline but I was able to find a folding dryer rack at Target that will work perfectly out on our tiny back patio. There are many benefits to sunning your diapers and I look forward to taking advantage of them this summer. If you aren’t familiar with the advantages of sunning your diapers, here are the two that are most important to me!
- Sunning removes stains!
- Sunning your diapers freshens them! You know that fresh from the clothes line scent, don’t you?
Anyone can dry their diapers in the sun! It’s not a complicated process at all once you figure out where you’re going to put them! Did you know you can even sun your diapers in the rain? It’s true! The fact is that the UV rays do the work and as long as it is daylight there are UV rays! If you don’t believe me, check out the link at the bottom of this post to read a first-hand account of sunning in the rain!
What is our solution for drying our diapers? We run them through a cycle on the dryer then lay them out inside to finish drying if they are still damp.
What about fabric softener? I don’t want crunchy diapers!
In general, fabric softener isn’t great for cloth diapers but it’s one of those things that works for some people so you have to see what works for you. I’ve read just as many tales of the horrors of fabric softener and cloth diapers as I’ve read people say they’ve never had a problem. There are a number of different fabric softeners you can use with your cloth diapers as well. If you don’t want to try a fabric softener product with your diapers, you do have a more natural option — dryer balls!
We use dryer balls with every load of our cloth diapers. Before I used cloth, I never had a dryer ball. Now I’ve got a good little collection. There are different types of dryer balls and we use wool dryer balls in our house.
The four natural colored balls are Buddha Bunz wool dryer balls. They are not dyed dryer balls or scented Buddha Bunz balls, although both options are available. The pink and purple balls are Pixieval dryer balls. When I first started using cloth with W I only had the Buddha Bunz dryer balls and they did a great job reducing static electricity in our laundry but they did leave fuzzies on some of our clothing when we used them with our regular laundry. That lead us to stop using them with our clothes and only use them with our diapers. When I won a set of the Pixieval dryer balls in a blog giveaway, I was excited to try them and we have had wonderful results with them!
While I like all of our dryer balls, we currently use our Pixieval balls much more often than the Buddha Bunz. Unfortunately the Pixieval Etsy shop is currently on vacation but will hopefully be reopened in July! I recommend both types of dryer balls and these are not the only dryer balls available. A quick search of Etsy reveals dryer balls of all types! You’re bound to be able to find something you like! If you’re crafty, you can even make your own dryer balls!
By bouncing around in your laundry, the dryer balls help keep the diapers separated from each other, decreasing the amount of time needed to dry them. I wasn’t convinced at first but after we dried our first few loads of diapers, I felt like they dried much more quickly than many of our loads of clothing do! Personally, I don’t know if the dryer balls make things softer, but I do think they reduce static electricity.
What is our solution to the fabric softener issue? We use dryer balls with our cloth diapers and we still use fabric softener sheets with our regular laundry. Yes, I admitted to it and yes, I’ve read a lot about how there could be build up in our dryer from them. I just know that we haven’t had any problems.
You make this sound so easy! You’ve never had any laundry issues?
I know I keep saying that we haven’t had any issues with our detergent or our fabric softener or even with our laundry routine and it really is true. We’ve gotten very lucky in the laundry department and we’ve only had one issue so far — stinkies! As I have mentioned previously, we’ve battled some stink issues with the Bum Genius All-in-One diapers from our newborn stash and our Bum Genius One Size inserts. I really think it comes down to the fact that they get a lot of use and that they are microfiber.
This problem sent me on a hunt for a solution. The diapers and inserts weren’t repelling so I didn’t think I needed to strip them with Dawn (a process that still sounds daunting) or anything as intense as that. I read on the Bum Genius website that Bum Genius recommends using bleach on their diapers once a month. Of course, other diapers come with instructions not to use bleach. So there is always that dilemma. I didn’t want to use something as harsh as bleach on W’s diapers either so I continued my search.
I finally came across suggestions to use vinegar in the cloth diaper laundry for a number of reasons. As with everything related to cloth diapering, there are pros and cons to using vinegar with your cloth diapers. After doing further research, I decided that adding distilled white vinegar to our laundry routine for a few loads might solve our problem. Here are the reasons I decided to try the vinegar:
- Vinegar will help neutralize urine.
- Vinegar helps balance pH.
- Vinegar helps eliminate soap residue and build up on diapers.
I figured one of those three reasons might be the cause of our stinky diapers and inserts. I also like the other benefits of using vinegar such as its work at softening fabric and reducing static cling.
We already owned a Downy dryer ball so I filled it about half way with distilled white vinegar and tossed it in with a load of our Bum Genius diapers. I went this route because I didn’t want to have to worry if I was adding the vinegar at the right time during the cycle. The Downy dryer ball opens at the right time in the rinse cycle.
I’m happy to say that this worked very well for us! It resolved the stink issue in all but one of our Bum Genius AIOs. The inserts were like new again! I will probably add this to our laundry routine at least once a month. As with everything, I believe it should be done in moderation but I feel much better about this than using bleach!
What was our solution to stinky diapers and inserts? Since the stink issue was limited to a selection of diapers and inserts, we didn’t make any drastic changes to our laundry routine. Instead, I used distilled white vinegar in the rinse with a load of the problem diapers. I also plan to sun my diapers as often as possible this summer which I think will keep them nice and fresh! I also had the opportunity to try some Rockin’ Green Laundry Soap as part of Summer Fluffin’ so I decided to use these same diapers to rock a soak! I will let you know how that went tomorrow and you will also have the opportunity to win your own bag of Rockin’ Green detergent!
So what are Formula Mom’s Essential Cloth Diaper Laundry Accessories?
- 1 or more hanging wet bags (I recommend the Plant Wise Hanging Wet/Dry Bag!)
- A laundry detergent you feel comfortable using with your cloth diapers (Remember you can always switch if your choice doesn’t work as well as you hoped!)
- Wool Dryer Balls (I recommend Pixieval dryer balls and Buddha Bunz wool balls.)
- Distilled White Vinegar and a Downy Dryer Ball (Just in case you need it!)
- Rockin’ Green Cloth Diaper detergent (Then you can rock your own soak!)
- A willingness to try different things and figure out what works for you! Don’t give up!