It's Just (Really Dirty) Laundry!
If you've come into Grassroots Baby stressed about how to wash your cloth diapers, you've probably heard one of us say, "It's just laundry!" We are firmly in the camp that while it is quite dirty laundry, it really is *just* laundry and with a little guidance, we can help you overcome any washing issues you may experience.
The number one question we get asked is, "What kind of detergent do I use?". For an overwhelming majority of people the detergent you'll use to wash your diapers is already hanging out in your laundry area. That's correct! You can typically use whatever you're using on your clothing to wash your diapers as well. The major exception to this rule is homemade detergent, and detergent with fabric softener add in. With some adaption to your load size, washing machine, and water hardness you can typically follow the directions right on the packaging of your commercial detergent and have great results.
The most common issue we see is people adding more detergent than necessary, when really they needed to add a water softening agent instead. Testing your water, right at the washer is best place to start working on your wash routine. You can bring a water sample into Grassroots Baby or a local pet store to find your water hardness. If your water hardness is over 180 ppm, you'll likely need a water softener like Calgon to help your detergent work properly. It should be noted that some detergents have more built in softeners than others so you may find that you need Calgon with slightly softer water or you don't need Calgon with slightly harder water with your detergent.
Your next step should be to read your washer's manual. Wash options with built in heavy spins, heavy duty cycles, and longer cycles are all popular for the main cycle of your wash routine. Getting to know your washer will help you find what is going to meet your needs the best. Don't worry if you have a simple washer with few options. Often times those older top loaders with an agitator are the easiest washers to get a great routine with. If you have questions about your washer's cycles, don't hesitate to message us or make a post in our Facebook group. We'd be happy to browse your user's manual and see what stands out.
Although typically referred to as a "pre-wash" we prefer to use a full wash cycle with detergent for the first cycle of your wash routine. This step is used to rinse away most of soil on the surface of the diaper and prepare it for a deeper clean during the next cycle. We've found through trial and error that rinse cycles, pre-wash cycles, or cycles without detergent aren't quite enough to get the diapers where they need to be for the main wash cycle. You can typically use any water temperature for this cycle, but personally warm cycles are my favorite for this.
Your main wash cycle is the heavy hitter and for most families, the longest, heaviest cycle is what is preferred. This is where reading your manual comes in helpful. This cycle shines with warm to hot water. You want to be sure to use the amount of detergent recommended on the bottle, using less than recommended may not get your diapers clean, but using too much will cause build up and absorbency issues. If your diapers feel slimy to touch, you notice suds at the end of your rinse cycle, or you're having issues with leaks (or stinks or rashes) checking for detergent buildup is great first step. The most common causes of detergent build up are using too much detergent or overly soft water.
We love cloth diapering here are Grassroots Baby and want you to be successful in your cloth adventure. If at any time you are having issues with your diapers, wash routine, or anything cloth related don't hesitate to contact us. Troubleshooting cloth diaper issues is one of our specialties and we'd love to do everything we can to make cloth diapering work for your family. We've got your back!
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