“You wash your diapers and use them again? Gross! Doesn’t poop get in the washer?”
In short, the answer is no. Poop doesn’t get in the washer. Poop-stained items go in the washer, just like mud-stained items, or throw-up stained items, or any other kind of stained clothes from any other kid or adult. Isn’t that kinda the point of having a washing machine? I’ve never gotten dressed in the morning and thought about all of the other things the washer and dryer have touched before cleaning my shirt or pants.
For the first six months, diapers are pretty much odorless. Breastmilk poops tend to smell like buttered popcorn. Soiled diapers require no extra attention and can go straight in the wash from a wetbag. We use these pail liners by Wahmies. They’re made to go in a trash can or “pail.” The girls’ wetbag literally hangs in their nursery, right on the closet door, with a big opening at the top. No stink! Ames, however, has some seriously stinky diapers. His wetbag hangs in the laundry room. After a couple of days, the bag smells like ammonia (a chemical change urine undergoes after it’s exited the body…delightful, I know). We spray his poop diapers out into the toilet using this diaper sprayer. But I mean, it’s human waste. It’s GOING to stink at some point. Anyway, as soon as our wetbag goes into the washer, the laundry room doesn’t stink anymore. Diaper genies and other disposable diaper containers can reek, too. In fact, most boxes of disposable diapers instruct you to dump poop before throwing away the diaper.
So we’ve collected all of our yucky diapers, and now we’re ready to wash. Right now, we do a load every other day. When the sisters slow down, though, we should be able to stretch it out to every three or four days, like we did when it was just Ames.
Let’s talk equipment. We have an HE set by Whirlpool, called a Cabrio. We chose a top-loader washing machine without an agitator, which allows the clothes to soak in more water than a front-loader. We’ve also had mildew issues with a front-loader and its door before, but that’s another story. I wash all of the diapers together, because a heavier load makes for more water – the HE feature senses the amount of water needed.
I dump both wetbags into the washer and set it to a quick-wash setting on Cold. I use about a tablespoon of Tide original powder with this one. There are plenty of websites that carefully instruct families to use cloth diaper-specific detergents. I understand their points and used those soaps exclusively in the past. But a lot of them are “free & clear” of so much stuff, I don’t think our diapers were actually getting clean! I use a cloth diaper detergent for my second wash, anyway. After the quick wash, I set it to heavy duty (a Hot wash) with an Extra Rinse. This cycle gets three tablespoons of Rockin’ Green soap. Usually, I do another short Rinse cycle after that. No soap this time. We only have a Warm option, but I’d do Hot if I could. This brings us to a total of three wash cycles. The point of laundering is to get stuff clean with a lot of water and a little soap. If you can smell detergent on your clothes/diapers after they dry, you’ve probably used too much.
When it’s time to move the diapers to the dryer, I hang the PUL covers on wooden clothespins. Thanks for this idea, Lorean! Keeping them out of the dryer isn’t mandatory, but it extends the cover’s life… the synthetic material is prone to melting under heat. It also allows me to dry the diapers on a hotter setting.
It’s recommended that you separate different materials when drying, especially pockets and synthetic fibers from natural fibers. My beloved Goodmamas are supposed to be hang-dried, too, to preserve the prints. Those babies are collectibles. But we buy used, workhorse diapers. I’m not too concerned with getting a hundred bucks for a diaper when it comes time to sell. Yes, they do go for that much. Sometimes more. Usually, I run the diapers for the longest Timed option (ninety-nine minutes for us) on Low or Extra Low. One cycle usually does the job. If I do larger load, the diapers might need an extra thirty minutes or so.
My wool wash routine is a bit different and MUCH easier. But that’s next week’s topic!