Monday, April 9, 2012

Cloth Diapering Part Three- How to Prep and Care For Your New Diapers

First of all-  Happy belated Easter!

Eisley loved her first Easter, and just had to dress up in one of her cute diapers as the Easter Bunny.

Ok.  So on to the diapers.  When the Hubby and I decided to cloth diaper, the thing I found most daunting was the whole washing routine.  There's a  lot of info out there, and a lot of websites dedicated to cloth diapers, so the great thing is that there is a whole community out there that can help you troubleshoot if you ever need it.  Keep that in mind, and steel up your courage!  You can do this!  

First things first!  Check with your diaper manufacturer about what detergents they ok.  Some detergents will void your warranty, and then if something goes wrong with your diaper within the warranty period, you will be up a creek without a paddle.  You don't want that.  You want to make sure that you use a gentle detergent with no enzymes, brighteners, or bleach.  Common cloth diaper friendly detergents are Charlie's Soap, EcoSprout, Rockin Green, and pretty much any cloth diaper brand detergent.  The jury seems to still be out on Tide.  Some people say it's ok, some people say it's not.  If you decide to use it, just make sure it has no brighteners.  You don't want anything in the detergent that is going to create build-up in your diapers and affect absorbency.  Now, on to the good stuff.

Prep.  When you buy your diapers or you get your fluffy brand new diapers in the mail, you don't want to just throw them on your baby.  Ok.  Well, you will WANT to just throw them on your baby because you will probably be pretty excited by the cuteness, but don't.  You have to wash those puppies first.  

If your diapers have natural fiber liners or inserts, you need to pre-wash them between 4 and 6 times to ensure that they are absorbent enough to soak up whatever Baby throws at them.  Natural fibers like hemp, bamboo, and organic cottons can be washed several times in a row without drying them.  Some people will tell you to use detergent, some people will tell you that you don't need to.  I personally wash them once with detergent, and then just run a hot cycle with just water.  It's worked fine for me.  

For stay-dry fabric diapers, you can definitely wash them 4 to 6 times like your natural fibers, but most people will tell you that you really only need to wash them once or twice, and then you're good to go.  Since they aren't natural fibers, they don't have natural oils to wash out.  Simple!

So after your diapers are prepped and ready to go, put them on baby!  If you are diapering a newborn who is breast-fed, there's no need to spray off your diapers or get rid of the poop before you put them in the wash.  This is as easy as it gets.  If you're dealing with solids, you are going to want to shake or spray off any solids into the toilet before washing them.  This is where a diaper sprayer comes in handy. A lot of different diaper brands sell sprayers too.  You can get them for about $30 or $40.  They hook up to the bottom of your toilet where the plumbing is, and they let you clean your diapers off by spraying your baby's business right into the toilet.  Some people will just dunk a dirty diaper in the toilet bowl and swirl it around to clean it off.  It's all personal preference.  

Once your diaper is clean of any solids, throw it and any cloth wipes you used to clean your Baby with into a dry wetbag that you either have hanging somewhere near your changing table, or in a diaper pail (any standard size garbage can will work).  A wetbag is typically made of PUL (Polyurethane laminated fabric) which the same waterproof material that most of your diapers are made of.  Make sure your diapers can get some air flow at least a few times a day, or you're going to end up with stinky diapers.  I would recommend that you at least wash your diapers every three days.  I usually wash them every other day.  

Throw your diapers in the wash and do a cold rinse cycle.  You can do a full wash cycle with your detergent at this point if you want, but a cold rinse cycle will help keep stains from setting in, and get the junk off your cute diapers.  If you did a full cycle with detergent, don't add any more, but if you just ran a cold rinse cycle, add the recommended amount now and run a hot or warm cycle.  You're going to   want to run the longest cycle that you can, just make sure it's not on a sanitize setting, which can get too hot.  Also, if your washer has it, set it to run an extra rinse cycle.  If it doesn't have that as an option, you will have to do it manually.  You want to make sure that all of the detergent washes completely out of your diapers.  You can check to make sure that they are clean by opening the washer during a rinse cycle.  If there are bubbles, you're probably going to want to use a little less detergent next time, and then run an extra rinse cycle or two.  Detergent build up can give Baby a rash, and mess with the absorbency of your inserts.  

If your diapers start smelling like ammonia, or they are not absorbing well any more, you may have some build up, and you may need to strip your diapers.  This is a topic that I don't yet have a whole lot of personal experience with, so I'm going to give you a link to an article on stripping your diapers.  The blog Cloth Diapers Made Easy has a great comprehensive article on stripping diapers.  You can read it Here.  

If you get crazy stains (or just want to make sure your diaper stay nice and white) you can always stick them in the sun.  It's free and effective.  It will naturally bleach your diapers, and dry them too if you want!  I will be sticking some of mine out to sun this afternoon.  

Line drying is probably the best way to dry your diapers.  You won't have to worry about the PUL being affected by dryer heat, but if you are like me, and are typically too lazy to line dry your diapers, just make sure that you dry them on low heat.  You want to extend the life of your diapers as much as possible, and high heat could be detrimental to your diapers.  Also, NEVER use dryer sheets.  They will create crazy build up on your diapers, and then you have to spend a fun afternoon stripping diapers.  I find that it can't hurt to stick a list of instructions on your washer and dryer, so that if anyone besides you washes your stash, you don't have to worry as much about something catastrophic happening.  

So I think that covers most of the basics!  Let me know if you have any questions!  Another thing that I'd recommend is getting involved in an online community, that way if you have any questions, you can ask other cloth diapering mammas for help.  I love the Change Diapers community.  Maria- the blog's author is a wealth of information, and her facebook page is a super fun place to hang out and talk to other cloth-obsessed moms.  If nothing else, she will keep you up to date on all the fun giveaways going on in cloth diapering land.  

My next installment will probably be my last for a little while, unless people have questions about specific brands.  Next post will be all my favorite sites.  It'll basically be a big list of links to help you figure all of this out even more fully.  Hopefully all of this has helped you so far, and will cause you to make the leap into cloth diapering!

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