Preparing Cloth Diapers - Getting your cloth diapers ready for use!
Choosing the cloth diapers you will use on your baby is very important; once in your hands you need to know how to prepare your baby's cloth diapers for use. A common rule of thumb is to pre-wash everything. No matter what style of cloth diaper you select, make sure to wash it BEFORE using it on baby for the first time.
Cloth diapers are worn up against baby's most sensitive areas. You are not likely to buy a package of underwear, pull one from the packaging and put it on, right? The same concern applies with baby's cloth diapers. Cloth diapers are a manufacturered item - and that process, whether at the hands of a work-at-home-mom (WAHM) or in a larger manufacturing facility, does not happen within the confines of your own home. A pre-wash cleanses away any of your concerns.
Beyond cleanliness, pre-washing cloth diapers has several benefits.
Some cloth diapers will require more preparation than others before they are 'ready' for baby's use. For instance, the pocket diapers we carry do not require any type of special preparation - your baby 'could' wear them straight out of the box, though again, we recommend a prewash for cleaning purposes. Other cloth diapers, like our prefold diapers, are less than effective when not pre-washed.
So what makes the difference? Why do some cloth diapers require a pre-wash and others don't? The primary difference is associated with what type of fabric makes up the diaper.
- Pre-washing cotton cloth diapers will 'shrink' them to the correct, projected size for a snugger overall fit. Manufacturers take into consideration the pre-washing process and account for it when cutting fabric to size. If you do not wash and dry the cloth diaper prior to use, you might find the diaper doesn't fit baby as it should.
- Some cloth diapers, like Hemp or Cotton Prefold Diapers arrive large, flat and stiff from a chemical finishing agent known as fabric sizing. You want this sizing removed before the fabric touches baby's skin.
- Washing away the fabric sizing begins the process of fluffing up the cotton or hemp fibers for a more quilted, absorbent cloth diaper - soft to the touch.
- Though all fabrics are different, many cotton fabrics are available in both bleached and unbleached varieties. The unbleached variety still retains a natural wax layer atop the fabric, which is water-resistant enough to hinder absorbency; this is true of hemp fabrics too. Multiple pre-wash and dry cycles will strip away the waxy oils within the material to ready them for use. Sometimes these unbleached cotton and hemp diapers can take 3 to 5 wash and dry cycles before they are fully absorbent.
Fortunately, after the initial wash/dry cycles, most cloth diapers will not require additional special treatment to ensure absorbency and maintain softness. There are special situations that occur where a build-up of petroleum-based rash gels or ointments can cause a build-up to occur which reduces absorbency, but a few hot washes can strip them clean again.
Preparing cloth diapers for use simply means pre-washing them. Choosing cloth diapers was your first smart step and now, pre-washing your cloth diapers to ready them for optimal use is the natural second-step in this process. Here's a tip: Allow at least 24 hours to run cloth diapers through several wash and dry cycles before using them on baby for the first time.