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How to wash cloth diapers

Although sometimes feared by hesitant parents, washing cloth diapers is a straightforward process. Initially, there may be a little trial and error involved, but all you really need is a little knowledge and determination to insure that the diapers get clean.

First and foremost, you’ll want to wash the diapers as a separate load from the rest of your laundry. Diapers and diaper covers can generally be washed together unless directed otherwise by the manufacturer. Generally speaking, cloth diapers should be washed in hot water with a cold pre-wash cycle followed by the rinse. You may want to re-rinse just to get all the soap out of the diapers.

Check Directions: Manufacturers of cloth diapers will often have instructions provided in the labeling or packaging. You should follow their directions wherever possible when washing cloth diapers.

Soak: Unless the manufacturer directs otherwise, it is best to soak the diapers first for a couple of hours before washing them. This helps with the removing of stains. A wet pail must be inaccessible to small children at all times. For top loading washers, diapers can be soaked directly in the washer.

Diaper Detergents: You’ll want to use diaper detergents that are free of any enzymes, fragrances, whiteners, dyes and other additives as well. Avoid anti-static and fabric softener products as they can irritate the baby and accumulate build-up. Use very little detergent; a small fraction of the recommended amount, approximately 2 tablespoons.

Bleach Only When Necessary: Using bleach is not recommended as it can break down the fibers of the fabrics, however, minimal and occasional use to eliminate odors is ok. For example, a half cup of bleach once every 3 months will not cause any serious damage.

Baking Soda or White Vinegar: Adding a little baking soda to your soaking (or dry) pail can help remove the odors. White vinegar can help soften diapers and remove detergent residue in the rinse cycle.

You should check the diapers once they have left the washer for any odors. Odors mean bacteria that can cause diaper rash, re-rinse if there is any odor. Wash your cloth diapers every other day to insure that they stay fresh. Be sure to set your washer for maximum use of water so that the diapers can fully rinse out.

Drying: Hang diapers on a line or machine dry on a medium heat setting.

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