One of the biggest complaints I hear about cloth diapers is that they quit working well after a while. They start stinking, they cause diaper rash, and they leak. Any of those problems can be too much to handle, and over time a mama just wants to quit. Too often, I see mamas do just that.
Would you believe me if I told you I've dealt with every one of those problems? Would you still believe me if I told you I have an answer that might fix them?
I have found that it's all about how you wash your dipes.
Cloth diapers need to be washed properly. They need a good detergent that washes them well, and rinses out completely. Diapers need a lot of water, so that the washing machine will get a chance to rinse everything out of them. Diapers need to be dried appropriately, so they won't fall apart too soon.
Here's my basic washing routine:
1] a full cycle on cold, large load, no detergent. This gets most of the stains out and helps rinse out some of the urine residue.
2] a full cycle on hot, large load, with detergent. This is when all the diapers get a good clean.
3] a full cycle on warm, large load, no detergent. This is to rinse out any leftover detergent in order to prevent build-up.
You might have noticed that I do full cycles instead of just rinse cycles for 1] and 3]. It's because I want to be thorough. I don't see much harm if you just do a rinse cycle, however, if you do start to have any issues with stink or build-up, I would recommend permanently switching to full wash cycles to prevent those issues from coming back.
I made a cute little printable to hang up in your laundry room. It can be used as a reminder for your husband when you ask him to do the diaper laundry ;)
Here's the pdf file for you to download and print out for free!
Download Washing Printout Here
So what do I do if I've got diaper problems?
A common culprit to diaper problems is a build-up of detergent. This can be caused by using too much detergent, or by not getting all the detergent rinsed out. I dealt with this problem over the summer when I was washing in an HE machine. The water efficiency was not getting all the detergent out of the diapers, and within a couple weeks they were leaking and stinking and causing rashes left and right.
If you're having diaper problems, I recommend doing what I did: super rinse the crap out of your diapers. I sent all the diapers through 4 super-hot, full washing machine cycles without detergent. There is a part two to this solution - you're probably going to have to adapt your washing routine. Because the HE machine wasn't rinsing out detergent as well, I ended up doing two rinse cycles at the end whenever I washed diapers from there on out. It was a bit time consuming, but I never had issues again for the rest of the summer. Trying out the super rinse is one of the simplest solutions and a good place to start.
I completely acknowledge that repeatedly rinsing your diapers might not fix the problem. There are moms all over the blogsphere that have dealt with some crazy stink stories, and they know their stuff! Also, a lot of diaper detergent brands have customer service lines and are very willing to do what they can to help out.
Are there things I can do to prevent problems from happening [again]?
One, make sure you're cleaning routine is really cleaning your diapers. Make sure you're washing with as much water as your machine will allow, and make sure you're rinsing all the detergent out of the diapers.
Two, get a good cloth diaper detergent. I know there are moms [and dads] that use Tide or "natural" detergents and have zero problems. If you're one of them, I'm jealous of your good fortune. However, that is more the exception than the norm. A couple of good cloth diaper detergents are Bum Genius and Rockin' Green. While they are more expensive than your box of tide [well, maybe not. Anyone else notice how expensive Tide keeps getting?], I pinky promise your diapers will thank you.
Ok, that got boring. Sorry. Back to the fun! Wash your diapers without fear, and print out a cute picture to hang in your laundry room! If you have a nasty outdoor laundry room like me, you know it needs as much help as it can get.