Washing Cloth Diapers In The Machine

4 min read

While it is very easy to opt for disposable diapers 24×7 for your child, it is both environment-friendly and pocket-friendly to opt for cloth diapers, at least during the day. But cloth diapers come with added logistics of cleaning and drying them. Many mothers like to hand-wash them, but what if you do not have the time or energy to hand-wash the nappies? You still need clean nappies and machine washing them would suit almost every mom. Read on to understand various aspects of cleaning cloth diapers:
Cloth diapers

Understanding The Manufacturer’s Instructions

The first step is to read and understand the manufacturer’s instructions given along with the packaging or cloth labels. If you are using cloth nappies from multiple manufacturers, it might be a good idea to keep a note of them in a book or your phone so you do not get mixed up. Reading these instructions is important because some nappies have special washing instructions (e.g. some should not be washed in hot water, some should not be put inside dryers, some should not be soaked and so on). Follow these instructions to ensure the longevity of the cloth nappies. The tips given below are for most typical diapers.

Pre-wash The Nappy Before Using It For First Time

Before you use a new nappy for the first time, wash it at least twice back to back. This is because all new nappies (and clothes) will have softener residues that the manufacturer added to make the product look more appealing to you. However, the presence of these residues not only can be irritating for your baby’s sensitive skin, but it also reduces the absorbing nature of the material, resulting in leaks. Pre-washing cloth nappies would ensure that your baby stays safe from any such chemical.

Storing The Dirty Nappies For Wash

It is quite impossible to wash nappies in real time. You have to store the dirty nappies for future wash. Most people use a diaper pail (it looks pretty much like a trash can with lids) or wet bags (looks like a trash bag, but can be zippered on to keep the odors in). Both these are manageable options. Some parents also use a ‘wet pail’. This means that soaking the dirty nappy in a bucket full of water (containing some disinfectant like Dettol or baking soda to contain odors). Although this last method is very common in India, experts do not suggest it as soaking for a long time can result in stains sticking to the clothes.

Deciding When To Wash

How frequently you wash depends completely on you and the number of nappies the baby has. Depending on his/her age, your baby might be making 10-20 wet nappies a day. So if you have enough numbers to keep them going, you could wash once in 2 days. Try to wash earlier in the day so that the nappies can be dried in sun during the day. Plan ahead if it is monsoons.
Please bear in mind that you don’t have to put the diaper cover for washing every time – you reuse it for 3-4 times or until it gets dirty with a poo.

Dealing With Poo In Cloth Diapers

Discard all the poo in the nappy in the toilet. Make sure the nappy is absolutely devoid of any poo particles. You can even rinse it once over the toilet with the jet shower or even directly in the flush water as you flush. Once rinsed, you can put this nappy along with the other dirty nappies in the diaper pail or wet bag.
Drying cloth diapers

Using The Right Washing Products

Using the right washing products are important because nappies are always in contact with baby’s bottom and residues from wrong products can cause irritation and rashes.

  • Do not use washing soap on cloth nappies as they are too harsh
  • Do not use washing powder that are fragrant and seem heavy on chemicals (those containing additives for stain removal or whitening)
  • Use a fragrance-free, gentle detergent, preferably one designed for baby clothes
  • Bleach can help fight infection, but do not use it regularly as it tends to spoil the cloth fibers
  • Use vinegar (1 cup per bucket) or baking soda (1/2 cup per load) to fight odors and soften the diaper
  • Change the washing products if you feel that clothes are not cleaned well or the residues are not washed off properly or your baby’s skin is not responding to it

For more details on disinfecting cloth diapers, click here

Washing The Cloth Diapers
  • Wash cloth nappies separately in the machine
  • Separate the cloth nappy from nappy cover if the washing instructions for both are different
  • Wash cotton cloth diapers in hot water (temperature above 60ºC to kill majority of the germs
  • Run the rinse thoroughly. Rinsing properly is the key to get soap free nappies
  • If the clothes still do not smell fresh after the washing routine, re-wash the pile again (and not just the nappy that smells)
Drying The Cloth Diapers

Even if your washing machine has a drier, it is recommended to dry the cloth nappies in open, under sunlight. Even if you use the drier, it is still a good idea to put them in the cloths line for some time. However, you need to dry the nappies immediately after washing. If you keep them in a damp state for long, then the few germs that may be still present in the nappy will multiply fast.

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