My High-Efficiency (he) Wash Routine

Like so many other people out there...I have a high-efficiency washer.  A lot of people with an HE washer find themselves struggling with finding a good wash routine to get clean, ammonia-free diapers.  I thought I'd give a step-by-step of my routine because I've been ammonia-free with this routine and it's pretty simple.
Obviously, not all water types are the same and not all machines are the same, but hopefully if you have something similar to my set-up you can have ammonia-free diapers too!

Important points:
- I have an LG front-loading washer with an option for extra water ('water plus').  It adds maybe an extra litre or two of water (not much, but any little bit helps).
- I have a water softener, meaning I don't struggle with hard water issues in my washing routine.
- I use Rockin Green Classic Rock Detergent (1 Tbsp/load).
- I swish poopy diapers in the toilet but don't rinse any other diapers.
- I wash every 2-3 days
- Sometimes I fill the softener dispenser with vinegar for some softening

My Routine:
1.  Any cold wash cycle for 5 minutes to soak the clothing.  Then stop the cycle completely and move on to step 2.  This 5 minute wash soaks the clothes so that when a new cycle starts the clothes are super heavy and tricks the machine into adding max water.
2.  Cold wash on delicate cycle with no spin, no detergent, extra water option.  This rinses some of the urine out of the diapers and gets off any little pieces of poop off that didn't swish off previously.
3.  Hot wash on cotton cycle with medium spin, heavy soil level, detergent, 1/4 cup baking soda, extra water option, extra rinse.
4.  Cold wash on delicate, no soap, extra water option.
5.  Delicate cycle in dryer or else everything goes out on the line to dry.

There you have it...that's what you can find me doing about every other day at home!  Simple and effective!

Disinfecting your dipes...

     I've been MIA in the blogging world lately as both my boys have been super sick!  It all started with Ben and then spread like wildfire to Eli, causing me to go on a disinfecting rampage to get this thing under control!  This disinfecting made it's way to Eli's diapers which had me searching all the different theories/ways out there as to how to disinfect cloth diapers.
    Everyone knows the most obvious choice; bleach.  Bleach will kill off almost anything in your diapers, including the fabric, elastics and PUL over time.  Still, if you've recently had a bad virus or bacterial issue in your house it might be the best option for you.  It's pretty tough on the diapers though and not the most pleasant thing to use on a fabric nestling up next to your little one's delicate areas, so make sure to only use it when you absolutely need to and to rinse, rinse, rinse afterwards!  This bout of illness in our home was pretty bad (ear infections, pneumonia, the works) so I opted to bleach my inserts but spare the covers.  I use 1/4 cup of bleach in with the hot wash and rinse three times after that wash.
     Another great disinfectant is the sun!  Hanging your diapers out in the sun actually kills lots of what's lurking in them naturally!  As an added bonus, it bleaches out the stains and freshens them up too!
     Tea tree oil and Grapefruit Seed Extract (GSE) are also great disinfectants (especially GSE).  Just add a few drops to the wash cycle to kill off bacteria and yeast.  A bonus of tea tree oil is it'll also combat the stinkies!  For my covers, I used GSE in a hot cycle and then hung them to dry in the sun.
    Don't forget, HOT water will kill lots of germs, bacteria, viruses as well as long as it's hot enough so if you have a sanitize cycle, use it when you really need to disinfect (not on PUL though and only occasionally on things with elastics).  I've boiled my inserts before to sanitize them when I didn't have a sanitize cycle on my machine and it works well.  Boil in a large pot for 20-30 mins.

If anyone knows of other ways to disinfect diapers, I'd love to hear them!


     I now have a love/hate relationship with cauliflower.  The other day I had some cauliflower puree in the freezer and I thought I'd try it out with the little guy.  He ate it up like it was nobody's business and I was super excited since I have a nice little stash of it already pureed up and ready to go.  What happened next was a new lesson in food for me.  As I was laying in bed, Eli laying next to me, I get this waft of a nasty smell.  Trying to figure out the source, I smell E's diaper to see if maybe he was dirty.  I took a good whiff at him and it was like a punch in the face!  He wasn't dirty and only a tiny bit wet, but the smell was a force to be reckoned with!  Apparantly, and this is news to me, cauliflower falls into that same category as asparagus...sulfur-rich foods.  When the veggie is broken down in the body, specific chemicals are released through the urine and have a less than yummy smell.  I think most of us know this phenomenon from easting asparagus...but cauliflower?  I've eaten my fair share of cauliflower in my lifetime and I've never smelled anything like this before.  E's even eaten asparagus and I never smelled a thing on him.  Apparantly again, not everyone has the gene to break down sulfur-rich foods all the way to the stink-making compound so we're just blessed to have a little boy who does :P
    The next morning I threw the diaper into the diaper pail, but the smell was so overwhelming every time I opened the pail that I HAD to do a load of diapers.  I washed them 3x on hot and not only did that diaper stink still, but it made the entire load stink!  I gave up, figuring eventually the smell would wash out, and hung them up outside.  When I went back to get them , they smelled like fresh spring air!  Wow...what a miracle fresh air is!  So note to all the cloth-loving mama's out there, beware of cauliflower and never underestimate the power of a little fresh air!

Used're kidding right?

     I buy used cloth diapers.  Yep, you heard me right.  They're not my entire stash, but they're there.  In fact, my entire beginning stash for the first three months was entirely second hand diapers.  If you're like I was in the beginning, this is really making you squeemish.  In the end, turns out used diapers are like any other piece of used clothing so long as you make sure you wash them well before putting them on your little one.  Before running out to find some great steals, here's a few points to make sure you're getting a great diaper and not a dud:

  • Ask about the wash routine.  You want to know what temp of water they washed in, if they line or machine dried, how often they washed and what detergent they used (very important). A harsh routine (VERY hot water, always machine drying, etc) could mean the diapers will be very worn down.
  • Ask if any laundry additives were used (bleach, oxyclean, etc) that may have prematurely worn the fabrics down.
  • Check the PUL.  If you're buying anything with PUL, take a good look to make sure there's no damage to it and that it's not starting to bubble and pull away from the fabric it's lining.
  • Sniff them!  I always sniff diapers before buying. Might sound gross, but which of us cloth diapering mamas hasn't sniffed a few dozen diapers?  If they stink, you know you have a residue or ammonia issue to deal with at home.
  • Check the velcro and snaps.  Make sure they're all in good working order.
  • Pull on the elastics and make sure they have lots of strength left in them.
Once you get your diapers home, you'll want to give them a good wash.  I prefer to strip all new diapers using several HOT washes on the inserts (just one hot wash on the covers is usually fine) with a little bit of detergent in the first wash.  I also use a 1/4 cup of bleach on the inserts in the first wash just to be sure.  If you're opposed to using bleach, just skip this step.  Finally, I hang them out on the line to let the sun and fresh air finish off the sterilizing and cleaning...then they're good to go!

Some great places to find second hand cloth diapers:

  • kijiji
  • ebay
  • diaper swappers
  • children's consignment shops
  • friends
  • some online retailers such as The Cloth Diaper Shop

It's Friday...let's HOP!

Time for the friday blog hop!!  

As always, please leave me a comment here so I can follow you back!  Happy Hopping!