One of the things that cloth diapering parents commit to when they switch to reusables is more laundry. It isn't necessarily an overwhelming amount of laundry, and it can easily be sandwiched into most family routines, but it should be no less than three loads per week of which means that you need to be washing them every other day or so. There are two, very good reasons for washing diapers this often and they have everything to do with their life expectancy and functionality.
- It isn't healthy for your diapers to sit for too long in the filth that they contain. The longer they sit without being washed, the more difficult it can be to remove stains and ammonia residue--especially from microfiber diapers.
- Washing machines, especially high efficiency washing machines, will clean your diapers better if the load is small. The larger the load, the more urine and poop will be swishing through the water and the less it will be able to be rinsed from the diapers. This means that your will have to run the dipes through more rinses and it will prolong the amount of time that your washing machine is in use. Over time, washing too many diapers together can cause your diapers to slowly build up residue that can actually repel rather than absorb moisture. Of course, diapers with residue aren't a hopeless case. You can easily strip this residue from your diapers making them as good (and as effective) as new.
In order to be able to wash your diapers so often without causing them too much wear and tear, you should try to have a larger stash. If your baby goes through 12 diapers in two days, I'd try to have at least 20 diapers to make sure that each diaper isn't getting washed too often. Remember, like any other article of clothing, the more you wash a cloth diaper, the more quickly it will wear out, though granted cloth diapers are much sturdier than your average sweater or skirt. If you can't afford a large stash, then don't feel like you have to stick to the more expensive diapers. Supplement your pockets or AIOs with inexpensive prefolds or flat diapers which run about $2-$3 a diaper. The latter are easier to wash anyway, and only get softer and more absorbent with each wash.
Also, remember that harsh detergents and excessive machine drying can also wear your diapers out. In addition, though sunning is a very efficient way to remove stains and freshen diapers, too much of it can also cause wear and tear. So, in addition to frequent washes and a large stash, use a cloth diaper safe detergent when you wash, and always hang your diapers to dry when possible, and not always outside in the sun. Following these simple steps will really help you get as much life out of them as possible.
denise shaver Date 2/14/2013
I just bought some Bum genius free time diapers for my daughter. I was looking at the washing instructions on the packaging and it seems very generic. I just wanted to ask experienced moms a couple of questions on how to wash my diapers so I can get the most use out of them. My main question is how to fold them or tab them when washing. The instructions say to use the laundry tabs if available. I'm not sure if there are specific laundry tabs or if I should just tab them close on the largest
denise shaver Date 2/14/2013
Looks like my last comment got cut off. I also wanted to ask whether to wash them inside out or normal. If tabbed close normally, it seems like the inside where is matters the most, wouldn't get the best cleaning. Thank you for any advice!
psychsarah Date 6/7/2013
Good tips! I am new to the high efficiency machines and didn't realize that a smaller load was better!
Cheri Date 6/17/2013
We use Flip covers and DiaperRite prefolds. We hand wash our diapers everyday in a coconut based laundry soap and let them fan dry. We have never had any issues with build up, smell or even stains. I will say we treat our diapers right away and soak them in hot water almost immediately during the day. We then do a load of laundry every 2 weeks in our HE washer. I think hand washing of you're a SAHM is the way to go. There is such little wear on our diapers because it's not put through the washer
Mandy Schaible Date 10/6/2013
Thanks for the wonderful tips. I never thought of using smaller loads to get the ammonia smell out. I shall try that.
Jennifer Date 12/6/2013
This is great information. I'm new to cloth diapering and really appreciate tips from old pros!
Mary Date 1/5/2014
Thanks for the information. I try to wash every other day. I love my top loader (non HE)!
Laurie P Date 2/5/2014
We supplement by using prefolds. Kinda have a preference for prefolds now. I also cannot let things sit for longer that a day, if that.