When I first decided to cloth diaper, I was really nervous about washing them. I read all of this information saying that you need to soak the diapers for a few hours, use a special soap that you have to order from the internet, all these crazy elaborate routines... I was freaked out. I followed the advice at first, I used the special detergent (first Purex Free and Clear, and then Rockin' Green) and only used 2 tablespoons of it per load. It was fine at first, but eventually my diapers were stinky and awful. As soon as he would pee, the whole diaper smelled like poop. I actually almost gave up on cloth diapering because it was so gross. Then I read that Tide was actually a really good detergent to use, and I was intrigued. Every place said to avoid detergents with fragrance, dyes, and enzymes but Tide had ALL of those things. I figured that I didn't have anything left to lose at that point, so first I bleached everything then started using Tide. What a difference!
In my experience, those natural detergents just don't work and sometimes you have to use a little bleach. I mean, think about it- what would you do if you had a bunch of shirts that had gotten peed and pooped on? Would you skimp on the detergent? No way. You would use a good strong detergent that would clear the mess away, and you might even add a bit of bleach for good measure. Some babies really are sensitive to fragrances and enzymes and if that is the case then you shouldn't use something like Tide, but most babies will be just fine. It's all experimentation, so sometimes you have to try a few different detergents until you find what works, or add in extra rinses at the end. But once you have it down, it's great!
So, this is my washing routine that I do every other morning. It's easy, it's uncomplicated, and it works like a dream. I have a non high efficiency top loading machine with hard water and I use liquid detergents.
- Cold rinse/spin cycle. This gets the bulk of the pee/poop residue off of the diapers.
- Hot "Super Heavy Duty" cycle, Gain or Tide detergent measured to the "2" line
- 2 more cold rinse/spin cycles. These extra rinses make sure that all of the detergent has been rinsed from the diapers. I've found that if I only do one rinse, my son sometimes gets a little rashy so I always do 2.
After that, I take out my pocket shells and PUL covers and hang them up to dry on a drying rack
- Cold rinse/spin cycle with a cap full of plant based fabric softener- either 7th Generation or Ecover. You can skip this step, but I like having soft diapers.
- 2 dryer cycles on medium heat. You can dry on high, but medium will make the diapers softer. I add a dry towel to the dryer and it cuts down on drying time.
Start with a really basic routine like that, and then tweak from there as needed. If you're having trouble and need help, feel free to contact me. Another good resource is Diaper Swappers. The ladies on DS can help you solve just about any laundry problems.