As we read across blogs and web forums we hear a lot of excuses for why families don't cloth diaper their babies - even from families who pride themselves in making earth-friendly choices.
They choose organic foods, growing home gardens for pesticide free veggies, and even thrifting for clothing and/or decreasing use of paper products, but they use disposable diapers. When we ask why we hear one of two replies:
- "I do not own my own washer and dryer and have to go to a laundry mat." Or...
- "I thought that the environmental impact between disposable and cloth diapers was debatable".
We'll hit on the first excuse today - and tackle the second excuse on another day. *wink*
Washing cloth diapers in a laundry mat, albeit not as convenient as having a washing machine within steps in your home, is still not a harried affair worthy of keeping you from using cloth diapers. Surely you wash your clothes, right? A extra load or two a week is all you would need to add to give your baby the comforts of cloth.
Here's our method for washing and drying cloth diapers in a laundry mat.
- Right when you get there find a top loader and fill it to the brim with hot water. Fill it with your normal amount of detergent and a hefty scoop of oxiclean (or whatever detergent booster you prefer). Don't fill the washer with your cloth diapers until it begins to agitate and all the detergent and booster has been mixed. Then, one by one add your cloth diapers into the soapy mix. Do not overload...if there is no more room for your diapers to agitate, you've put in too many.
- Leave the lid up on the top loader so that the spin cycle will not start - diapers will agitate and then soak. Gather up your other household laundry and start those loads (again leaving the lid up so that the spin cycle will not begin and your cloth diapers will be soaking while you do your other laundry).
- I'm a big fan of crosswords - so I bring my crossword and let my diapers soak until the crossword is complete. That might not work for some - so bring a book, magazine, ipod, take a nap ... whatever ... but let your diapers soak for at least 30 minutes. If your laundry mat has washers with pull stoppers, you can put the lid down to retain the heat within the washer. I will often put my laundry basket OVER the top of the opened lid to maintain the heat within the wash basin, but this isn't necessary.
- When your time is up (and remember, the more time they can soak, the better), put the lid down on the washer and let the cycle complete itself.
- If you have used too much detergent, or have an exorbitant amount of suds, you may want to do another cold wash without detergent just to rinse your diapers thoroughly.
- Pull diapers out of washer and place in dryer. I normally have to feed the dryer twice to get my diapers thoroughly dry.
- Turn dryer on ... fall asleep washing diapers go around and around and around and around...
- Pull out and fold your fluffy diapers.
Please note that I am talking about washing cloth diapers, not diaper covers. Some diaper covers, like Bummis Super Whisper Wraps, Bummis Super Snap Wrap, and fleece diaper covers can withstand rigorous heat of even industrial washer and dryers, but other diaper covers (such as wool), cannot. In addition, pocket diapers can withstand the heat as well, but do not need as long a dryer time and can be pulled out within minutes of the first dryer load - or perhaps air dried.