Saturday, October 2, 2010

Washing Cloth Diapers-- Not a big deal

We didn't get a diaper sprayer.  Instead, we decided to just invest in some hardy rubber gloves* and tough it out for the first week or so.  We figured that, after that, if we really felt like we needed a sprayer then we could go ahead and buy one.  But I don't see us buying one any time soon.

*I usually try not to buy ultra-girly things that I know both Bryan and I will be using, but these pink ones were honestly the only ones at the store that looked thicker than a piece of paper.  So Bryan has proved his true manliness once again by donning the pink rubber gloves to wash poo off of Olivia's diapers.  My hero.

We'll get back to the rubber gloves in a minute.  First let's talk about why we're all so freaked out about washing cloth diapers.  Why is it that we squirm and quickly offer up excuses for why we couldn't possibly do that?

It's because we've never actually done it before.

Or maybe you had a bad experience or maybe you've done it and you just genuinely prefer never to do it again.  I totally respect that.  But in my case, I was worried about washing cloth diapers because I had no experience with it.

I imagined it to be this terribly disgusting thing.  I imagined it to be hard and labor-intensive.  I imagined it to be--dun dun dun--yucky.  But I am happy to report that all that was nothing more than a figment of my imagination.  Washing cloth diapers--even the mushy poopy ones--is no worse than it is in a disposable diaper.  Or at least not any worse than dealing with it in a disposable diaper twice.  Let's talk about it as I explain how we wash our cloth diapers.

First off, we've already talked in depth this week about the cloth wipes we use...

...and the awesome laundry bag we store the soiled diapers in.

So now let's talk about what happens between using the wipes and putting the soiled items into the laundry bag.

Prepping Soiled Diapers for Laundering:

If the diaper is just wet: 
We unsnap the front of the diaper, take the liner out, unsnap the liner, and it all goes into the laundry bag as-is.  Easy.

If the diaper has tidy little nugget poop in it:
We unsnap the front of the diaper, pick up the tidy little nugget poop with a cloth wipe, drop the nugget poop in the toilet (and flush it away), put the dirty wipe in the laundry, take the insert out, unsnap the insert, and it all goes into the laundry bag as-is.  Easy.

If the diaper has nasty mushy smooshy poop in it:
We unsnap the front of the diaper, take the liner out, unsnap the liner, and put the liner in the laundry bag as-is.  Then we wipe Olivia down with the cloth wipes, set the soiled diaper (minus the insert, of course) and wipes aside (we just put the dirty wipes in the diaper), and put a clean diaper on Olivia.  Then, once she's down from the changing area and playing and safely on her own in the living room, we take the dirty diaper and wipes and head to the bathroom.  We don the hearty pink gloves.  We lift up the toilet lid and seat.  Then we take the wipes and--holding them in the toilet water--rub away as much of the poop as we can.  Mostly it just falls off and whatever's left is minimal and will come off in the wash.  Then the wipes get put in the laundry bag.  Then we take the diaper and do the same thing we did with the wipes.  Holding it down in the toilet bowl water, we scrub at it with our hands (inside the protective pink gloves, of course) to get most of the poop off.  Any residual poop usually comes off by holding the diaper in the water and scrubbing it while the toilet is being flushed.  We do this as much as we need to until we're satisfied that we've gotten as much of the poop out as we can.  It takes about two minutes max.  Then the diaper cover goes into the laundry bag as-is.  Easy enough, right?  I think so.

We did our first load of diaper laundry yesterday.  Want to see the biggest (and only) stain we had?
There it is.  So even the worst that can happen doesn't seem to be so bad.  Agreed?

Washing Cloth Diapers in the Washing Machine:
Now let's talk about how to wash the soiled-and-previously-rinsed-out-as-much-as-they-needed-to-be diapers.  People say washing cloth diapers is an art.  And after one go at it I don't presume to have perfected it, but I feel confident enough to share the little I do know.  Especially since it seems to have worked just fine.  Here we go...

This is how we wash our cloth diapers:
-1 full wash cycle on cold with laundry detergent (1/4 the amount needed for a regular load)
-1 full wash cycle on hot with no laundry detergent
-air dry on drying rack
Let's begin with laundry detergent, shall we?

All free & clear was recommended to me by other cloth diaper users, so I decided to use that.  (However, my cousin tells me that Bum Genius customer service will tell you this is not a great choice.  They recommend using Bum Genius laundry detergent.  They may be right.  We'll see.)

The back of the All free & clear bottle says to use 1.5 oz of detergent for a regular load.  But for cloth diapers you only need to use 1/4 of that amount.   So, in order to keep myself from having to lug this big jug of laundry detergent up and down the stairs when I only need a tiny bit each time...

...I bought this little 3oz bottle.  It came from the travel toiletries section at Walmart and cost me about $1.00.  In my opinion, totally worth the dollar.  I wrote the contents on a label as well as a note to remind me which button means cold and which button means hot on our community washing machines.

And on the back I marked off some handy little measuring lines.  I just eyeballed a halfway point and marked that.  Then I marked halfway between that point and the top of the bottle.  Same thing with the bottom half.  Then I marked a halfway point in between each of those lines.  That gave me these eight little lines, the distance between each measuring the amount of detergent needed for one load.  Brilliant, right?  And, of course, way more convenient than carrying a whole jug of laundry detergent with me.  Sometimes I am awesome.

So, with all the soiled diapers in their awesome laundry bag, I grab my handy dandy little bottle of laundry detergent and I'm ready to do a load of diapers.  Like I mentioned above, I wash the diapers in one full cycle on the cold setting with the appropriate amount of detergent.  Then I wash them one one full hot cycle. 

They're surprisingly not wet when they come out of the washing machine, which is nice.  I thought they would be sopping wet, but they're not.  It's nice.  So then I just put them back in the nice fresh laundry bag and bring it all back up to the apartment.

It works well to let them dry outside.  And I've read that the sun will bleach stains and make any smells that might remain go away.  And all for free.  Awesome.

Drying them inside also works well. 

FYI: The diaper coves dry faster than the liners.  So give the liners as much drying space as you can.

Freshly washed clothes drying in the sun.  Isn't it dreamy?

I really have day dreams about hanging clothes to dry out on a clothes line.  It just seems pretty and fresh and sunny.

Then, once they're dry, they're ready to be put to use again!

And putting them to good use is what this is all about.  :)

Thanks so much everyone for joining in on all the fun during Cloth Diaper Week here at Notes From A Very Red Kitchen!  It's been fun sharing a little of what I know with you.  And I learn so much from all the helpful comments you leave.  I hope that any of you out there who have been wondering what cloth diapering is really like have a little better idea now of whether you'll like it or not.  I know that so far we love it!  And, as always, feel free to ask any questions or leave any suggestions you may have in the comments.

Happy Saturday!


Unknown said...

I've always wanted to do cloth diapers but it just looks like so much work!

I'm your newest follower! You can find me at

Kathy Haynie said...

I've shared your posts with other friends who are curious about cloth diapering. Thanks for a very informative week! Cloth diapers have come a long way since I was using them "back in the day," but the babies are still darling, and the "contents" of the diapers are pretty much the same.

Love the hearty pink gloves.

Amanda- The Nutritionist Reviews said...

Do you really have a red kitchen? If you do, I am so is my dream to have an all red kitchen!

I just found your blog on a Saturday Blog Hop! Have a wonderful weekend!

Amanda @

Mary Q Contrarie said...

My kids have outgrown diapers but even later it is great to continue drying clothes in the sun on a clothes drying rack or line. Clothes stay nice longer and it saves so much carbon from getting into the atmosphere maybe if more of us make these lifestyle changes. Our kids will not have a lot of climate changes to contend with.

Hanna said...

Hi there! I am your newest follower from the weekend blog hop. Lovely blog:) You can find me at

Unknown said...


I really wanted to do cloth diapers when I found out I was pregnant. But that went out the door when we found it was twins. lol

Im your newest follower. I hope your having a great weekend.

Anonymous said...

When I was 3, my Dad would wash out my little Sister's cloth diapers. He made it look so important that I couldn't wait for MY turn. haha,
I did get my turn with my own children.
I am a happy new follower.
I found you at the hop.
Living Out Loud

Beth said...

I've found that drying them in the sun with the inside of the diaper facing up keeps the insides much cleaner. Oh, and if you want to make the whole washing the squishy poop easier use either disposable liners, or make your own washable ones out of fleece. Just cut the fleece to fit the inside of the diaper. I made my son a bunch in brown (that was just the fleece I had on hand that day) and it has made it a lot easier. MUCH easier to rinse out then the whole diaper.
And congrats on your first week of cloth diapers. I found that the hardest, but once you get in the swing out it, cloth diapers become 2nd nature. And with all the advances they have made since we were little they are almost as easy as disposables.

Tay said...

bG recommends their own brand because they want you to buy it. All F&C works great. I would only suggest purchasing BacOut so you can use it every once in a while to kill any naughty bacteria.

Unknown said...

Woot wooot! You are rockin' it!

Emily said...

Thanks so much for posting diaper week. I have been considering cloth diapering for a while. I even have fabric and several patterns. I just haven't finished sewing them yet.
One thing I was wondering is where did you get your drying rack? I have only see the A frame ones and I would love to have the additional space that your's provides. Thanks for all the wonderful info and the inspiration to just start.

Katie Lewis said...

Emily- my drying rack is from IKEA. It cost about $20 and I'd say it was worth every penny. :) Best of luck with cloth diapering!

Sarah said...

Hooray for "daring" to use cloth diapers while using community laundry. We were living in graduate student housing when our daughter was wearing diapers full-time, and we also used the BumGenius. Agreed that it is pretty much easy-peasy to take care of them.

We send our son to daycare in his BG's now, and it is also no big deal for the teachers to use them. Just thought I'd toss that out there. Not every mommy *sniff* is able to stay home with their babies.

Diaper Love!

Kelly said...

I have used cloth diapers since my son was 5 weeks old (he's now 1) and I love them. So much cuter than disposables.
Thanks for doing some great posts on the subject!