Cloth Diaper Cleaning

This past month I made my first purchase of cloth diapers to see if they would work on the two boys in preparation of using them with the new baby when she arrives.  I just couldn’t fathom having to dish out $100/month on disposable diapers for three little ones when every penny is needed to go toward grocery inflation. 

For less than $100 I was able to purchase a set of 20 solid-colored diapers with a 3-layer bamboo insert for each from an online site I read about on a blog I follow.  The same company is still selling the solid diapers for $4.79 each and offer free shipping when you spend a minimum of $49.  My goal is to save up so that I can purchase at least another 20 diapers for baby girl before she arrives this summer.

Since then I’ve been testing out different systems to see if I could make using cloth diapers just as convenient on my schedule as disposable.  I researched the different cleaning methods online but found the simplest one works best.  The first cleaning experiment was rinsing the dirty diaper immediately after changing and placing in a bucket filled with cold water.  A tight, locking lid is kept on top to prevent smells from leaking out or little boys from getting in. 🙂  The diapers were kept in the water until I had enough for a full load (or I ran out of clean diapers to use).

My second cleaning experiment was rinsing the dirty diapers immediately after changing but this time I placed them in a dry bucket with a locking lid between laundry days.

Although I read online that you can add baking soda to your water to cut down on the ammonia smell, you would need to add vinegar to your extra rinse cycle in order to restore the pH level in the diapers.  Failure to do this would cause the baby to get diaper rashes very easily.  Makes sense to me, but I wanted to see if I could get away with using NO extra cleaners and still get clean diapers with a regular washing.

In the end, the diapers that were stored in a wet bucket came out smelling fresh and clean after a regular wash using ordinary detergent and a normal setting with no extra rinse cycle.  The diapers that were stored in the dry bucket between washes came out stinky after the first wash cycle.  I ended up having to wash that load THREE times before I was satisfied that they no longer smelled.

I’ve gotten it down to a science with the steps to cleaning and storing.  After changing the soiled diaper, I pull my bucket of water over to the sink and open the lid.  Then I dump any solids into the toilet before heading to the sink to give the diaper a good rinse.  As each diaper component is rinsed, I ring it out good and throw into the water bucket making sure it is immersed in the water.  Finally, I wash my hands and sink with soap and water, lock the lid back on top of the bucket and slide it back underneath the shelves out of the way.  When it’s full and ready for the laundry, I take the entire bucket to the washing machine and ring out each diaper before throwing into the wash.  Then I take the bucket of dirty water back to the bathroom where it is drained and cleaned before refilling with cold water.  Again, no extra cleaners or chemicals are needed for cleaning the diapers!  There is a slight ammonia smell to the water bucket, but NOTHING compared to when the diapers are stored in a dry bucket.

As a side note, the manufacturer recommends washing in cold water with NO fabric softeners added and hang drying.  I’m sure that process would prolong the life of the diapers, but washing on warm and drying on a gentle cycle have been working fine for me so far.  Haven’t had them long enough to really say if it is adding more wear and tear on the diapers.  I just know it saves a lot on time.


3 thoughts on “Cloth Diaper Cleaning

  1. Hey Amy! I’ve been following along for a while (I guess since around the time I met you back in November @ the funeral) but I don’t think I’ve ever commented! Just wanted to say way to go! We have cloth diapered Emma Kate since 4 weeks old, and we LOVE it! If you ever have any questions or concerns, I’d love to chat about it with you. 🙂 After reading some of your blog posts, I’ve been kind of surprised that you didn’t already cloth diaper, with all the natural and homemade things you do in your home. 😉 While I’m sure your diaper routine will be a little bit more just because of how many fluffy bums you have running around, it sounds like you’ve got a great start on it! I’ve found that less is more, the simpler, the better.

    Hope you and baby girl are feeling well!

    Oh, and something I wanted to pass along–if you ever need any small cloth diapering items, is one of my favorite retailers for individual things cause they do free shipping, no matter how large/small the order!

    • Thanks, Bekah! The truth of the matter is that I could never squeeze out enough from my grocery budget to make such a large purchase at one time. Also it was hard to justify such a large purchase with something I wasn’t sure would even work for the family.

      Thankfully I didn’t have to spend any extra money on this first set of cloth diapers since I used a gift card we earned with pionts. Basically I was able to “get my feet wet” for nothing. 🙂 Now that I’ve found a good system that seems to be working and we are saving so much more every month with not having to purchase so many disposable diapers, I want to increase my supply. My cousin told me that 30/per child would be plenty. I figured I would start to potty train Adam soon so if I just collected about 20 more, I would have enough to last for baby girl until she is ready to potty train.

      I still have to buy some disposable diapers each month because Isaac is actually too big for the 6-33 lb. diapers. Plus I put Adam in a disposable when I know I’m going to be away from home for a while. He is such a heavy wetter that I can’t go long between changing the cloth ones like I can with a disposable diaper. I just ordered more inserts that are supposed to be for heavy wetters, so I’m hoping I can make the diapers last longer between laundry days. Right now I have to wash more frequently because I’ve been doubling up the inserts meaning I only have enough for 10 diapers instead of 20.

      • That’s so awesome! And hey, every time you use cloth, that’s pennies that you’re not throwing in the garbage with a disposable…it will add up quickly! 🙂 Also, another benefit to cloth down the road (or if for some reason it doesn’t work out) is that if they’re kept in good condition, you can usually make some of your money back by selling them. I’m part of a cloth diaper group on Facebook, and there are ALWAYS diapers being sold back and forth.

        I agree, 30/child will be plenty (just keep in mind that baby girl will go through more during those early months). We use prefolds w/ covers, and my stash is only 2 dozen prefolds, plus I keep 3 or 4 pocket diapers on hand for when I leave her with someone else (my mom, church nursery, etc.). I also have 3 fitted diapers that we use at night for the extra absorbency.

        Good luck in your new adventure!! Can’t wait to hear more as you continue to work out your routine!

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