The Most Effective Way To Clean Cloth Diapers

If you have children and are looking to be more sustainable, cloth diapers are a great way to cut down on waste and embrace the reduce, reuse, and recycle lifestyle. While disposable diapers can take hundreds of years to decompose, according to a study from the Journal of Nursing and Health Science, cloth diapers can be used again and again when properly washed. Though the idea of washing soiled linens may seem revolting, the process is simple and will ensure the diapers are thoroughly cleaned.

Before washing, it's important to remove any solid waste. You could use a handheld bidet attachment to rinse the waste into the toilet or scrape it off with a designated tool that stays in the bathroom. For babies that only consume breast milk, this step can be skipped, as their waste dissolves in water. After flushing all solids, the diapers will need to go through a cold rinse cycle with no detergent, followed by a warm or hot cycle with diaper-friendly detergent. Once they're clean, it's best to air-dry them in the sun, which will help get rid of stains. Cloth diapers can go in the dryer on low heat settings, but this may wear them out sooner.

Choosing the right detergent for cloth diapers

When washing cloth diapers, using fabric softeners can cause a residue that builds up in the fabric and lessens absorbency. It's important to choose a detergent that will effectively clean the diapers while still being gentle enough for your baby's skin. When picking a detergent, steering clear of fragrances and bleach is a good idea. If you're looking for a more environmentally-friendly option, try making your own detergent with sodium carbonate and borax or hydrogen peroxide, which helps to disinfect and get rid of any smells. You can also add OxiClean for a more powerful wash.

Depending on whether your home has hard or soft water, your needs will vary. While diapers cleaned with soft water may require additional rinsing to remove all the soap, those washed in hard water might need more detergent to get the clothes clean and will eventually need to be stripped to remove built-up minerals.

How to wash cloth diapers by hand

While washing clothes by hand can seem impractical, it can make your diapers last longer and will cut down on your energy usage, making your cloth diaper practice more sustainable. To do this, start by soaking the diapers in warm or hot water with a small amount of detergent for half an hour. You can use a large bucket or your bathtub for this method, depending on how many diapers you need to wash.

When your cloth diapers are done soaking, drain the water, refill, and add the right amount of detergent for the water being used. Use a plunger to swirl the laundry around for several minutes. This will help to remove anything stuck to the diapers. Let your cloths sit for about 10 minutes, drain the water again, and repeat if necessary. Finally, fill your bucket or tub with clean water and swish the diapers around to rinse them. This can be done multiple times if the soap doesn't seem to come out. Cloth diapers are a great way to make your life more sustainable, and using natural or homemade detergents and hand washing are other good ways to make these diapers even more environmentally friendly.