I've been seeing a lot of laundry questions on the cloth diapering boards. Many revolving around stinkies and HE washing machines.
A little over a year ago, I was in the market for a new washer and dryer. I knew that I was going to be washing cloth diapers and I knew many people recommend a top loader, but I really wanted a front loader. I did a lot of research on the machines, and laundry routines.
The machine I chose was a Maytag 2000 Series.
I do my laundry every two days or so. I use a combination of Best Bottom Diapers and Fuzzibunz. This is a detailed post of my laundry routine.
- First, normal cold wash, no soap
- Second, Heavy duty wash, 2 TBS Rockin Green Classic rock, second rinse (TEST your water to find the proper formula for your water. Don't rely on the chart)
- Remove the PLU pail liner, and Best Bottom shells, hang them to dry.
- Wash again, normal hot wash, second rinse, NO soap
- Hang Fuzzibunz shell, inserts and cloth wipes in the dryer.
Here is what the settings look like on my washer for a normal cloth load AFTER the normal cold wash without soap.
I would hang my inserts to dry, but my drying rack doesn't have enough room, and my HOA says I can't lay them outside to sun to dry. If you choose to line dry, you can throw the inserts in the dryer for 10 minutes without heat to soften them up after.
|My covers, small Planet Wise wet bag, and Planet Wise pail liner drying. This is a normal load every 2 days.|
Once a month or so, you should strip your diapers as regular maintenance. There are several ways you can do this.
The easiest is several hot washes without soap. This removes any soap residue that may have built up on your diapers. I always recommend this one first if someone is having troubles with their diapers.
Next, if the hot washes don't work, you can use a product like RLR to wash your diapers in. If you are using PLU shells, don't strip them, just do the inserts. I haven't used this product, but I've heard great things about it when used properly. Make sure you rinse enough times to get all the suds out.
Original Blue Dawn also works as a stripping agent. In a top loader washer, I've heard you can use up to 2 TBS. I don't use that much, I add it in drops on an insert and throw the insert in the wash. I use between 5-10 drops in my washer if I need to strip. Remember, this can damage an HE washer, so use this method at your own risk!
On inserts only, you can also wash with 1/4 cup of bleach. This will kill bacteria which causes stinkies.
Since most of the country has hard water in some shape or form, I NEVER recommend using vinegar in your rinse cycle. If you have hard water, vinegar will make the smell problems worse, not better.
Now, if you're having stink issues with your diapers, what is suggested you do is different depending on the kind of stink. If you are getting a barnyard/animal/dirty smell, that is bacteria caused by not using enough soap. I suggest doubling your detergent and washing again. If it continues, add more soap. I've seen people using as little as 1 tsp of soap (way too little) and then complaining of stink issues. I too was afraid of using too much soap and dealt with this myself. After discussing the problem with Annie from Nicki's Diapers, I doubled my detergent and washed again. My stink issues went away!!
The other stink you can have is ammonia, which is harder to get rid of. It can be caused by many things, but believe it or not, soap buildup is one. I wash my diapers like normal, then run a strip cycle with bleach, then wash again. Then to make sure the bleach is gone, I do either a dawn strip cycle or I use some Arm and Hammer Free and Clear. Then it's the rinsing game to get rid of the soap. If the problem persists, I narrow down the culprits, (usually a couple of overnight doublers) then I wash and soak for 12 hours in Rockin Green Funk Rock, then wash.
Padded Tush Stats has a fantastic flow chart about stink issues. If you're having problems, I would look there!
Another issue is making sure that you are getting all the soap rinsed out of your diapers. In my washer, an easy way to check is to run a rinse cycle. It takes about 5 minutes to fill, then it starts to agitate. During this time, I can push pause (same as lifting the lid on a top loader.) I can then observe the bubbles through the glass. Bubbles that pop in 30 seconds are agitation bubbles, these are normal and expected. This is not soap build up and the diapers can be dried when the spin cycle is finished. Bubbles that don't pop (think a bubble bath) are soap bubbles and you need to run more rinses until these are gone.
Here are photos of the two types of bubbles.
This is soap bubbles after I added too much soap on a strip cycle and several rinses.
This is agitation bubbles. I did one more rinse after this, but I would have been fine drying them at this stage.