Washing cloth diapers is easy—usually. Sometimes we need to adjust for water quality, machine type, detergent, or fibers. If the stink of diapers is in the air, it’s a problem we can fix.
Laundry is definitely on our minds lately. It seems to be one of the most challenging issues with cloth diapers, and it’s a topic we are discussing in the store almost daily. Why do some parents never have issues, and others seem to be continuously struggling with odours? We try to convince parents that odours shouldn’t be a part of cloth diapering today, and yet this is the number one problem parents come to us about.
It seems most parents are able to go a few weeks or months just fine, then the stink hits them. They can’t get the smell out of their diapers even when they are clean. It doesn’t help that we’re in an area with relatively hard water, but I know there are areas with harder water than we have in Orillia and parents manage.
I know it’s frustrating for parents who experience diaper stink, so in the next month I’m going to walk one by one through issues with cloth diaper washing.
First Step: Get It Right When You Start
I know none of us like to hear this, but cloth diaper stink is usually the result of a wash routine that isn’t quite right in the first place for our water quality, our detergent, our diaper fibers, our machine, and so on. There are a lot of factors, but it is actually easy to adjust to these factors.
Some stink issues—maybe most stink issues—come from build up over time. So, let’s not let the problems build up.
Before we start making adjustments, let’s wash cloth diapers right from the beginning.
There are two basic cloth diaper washing guidelines I recommend: Bummis and Real Diaper Association (RDA). They come from the same, evidence-based source. In 2011, a reusable textile expert gave a presentation on laundry science to cloth diaper industry professionals. Bummis and RDA worked together and with scientists to create simple, clear guidelines for you.
- Bummis Super Simple Easy As Pie Method for Washing Cloth Diapers
- Real Diaper Association 5 Easy Steps for Cloth Diaper Washing
If you want to know more about the science behind these recommendations, both provide you with more details.
Where Do We Learn the Basics?
Since it’s important to get laundry basics right from the beginning, I was curious to know where bynature.ca followers learned to wash cloth diapers. We did a quick survey on Facebook.
After looking at the quick tally I made, I see four general ways people are learning to care for their diapers: face to face, through interaction online, through online research, and on their own without interaction.
What is the best way to learn? Probably through observation before you actually need the information. One person learned from “My mom. She cloth diapered all of us kids.” By the time you need to wash diapers on your own, you already know what you are doing.
If your baby has arrived and you don’t have previous experience, often you reach out to those nearby—friends and acquaintances who have used cloth diapers. When there are no face-to-face friends to go to, many find a local support group. Another mother learned from a “Local cloth diapering Facebook group. So great to be able to ask experienced diaperers any questions that come up.” Sometimes all you need to do is tweak your routine a little, and experienced parents can listen to the issues you have and help with that.
Two people mentioned that they didn’t know anyone else using cloth diapers. Fortunately, there are plenty of online resources to get to the fine details of perfecting a cloth diaper washing routine.
“What’s to learn?!” asked one mother. I was like that. I didn’t have any issues that required research. I just washed the diapers a couple of times a week then mostly ignored them. “Read a few online posts. It’s not really rocket science,” wrote another. We’re lucky when we don’t run into issues with stink or repelling.
For the parents who are trying to adjust their cloth diaper washing routines to troubleshoot the issues that sometimes come up, we are about to explore the world of cloth diaper laundry. For the next month and a bit (unless I run out of things to say), I am going to dig narrow and deep into troubleshooting your laundry routine.
This is my actual tally, for those who are curious.
As a cloth diapering parent, where did you learn how to wash cloth diapers?
6 Other parents or friends
5 At a bynature.ca workshop or site
4 Local shop
3 My Mom
5 Facebook group or other forums
10 Web sites or Google
4 Manufacturer instructions
9 On my own or trial and error
2 Didn’t know anyone else using them