Thats what everyone is really worried about with cloth isn't it? Im going to discuss the "chore" of laundry as well as ways to do cloth diaper laundry.
First I've never understood the distress of doing laundry. Yeah it can take 1hr-1 1/2hrs per load start to finish but really in that time you spend like 10-15 min actually doing something. The rest your waiting on a machine (unless hand washing). To me this is the greatest chore! When I had home laundry or apartment building laundry it was great. Laundry mat....well getting it there can be a bit of a chore (unless you drive, then don't complain). I walk to the laundry mat (with a granny cart lol). But hey, I'm out of the house for 2 hrs working my butt off for 15 min, reading, playing on Facebook or grabbing Tim's (to people outside Canada that's coffee and a donut). Sounds like a sweet chore to me. Now putting away laundry....ok not as big a fan lol.
LESSON1: It's all how you look at it.
Ok so hopefully that helps you look at one household chore a little better. Its the sit and chilax chore
Next: laundry detergent:
Ignore the cloth diaper manufacturing instructions and do not spend money on special laundry soap. Also do not buy special detergent for baby clothes either. Its all a big capitalist scam! Your baby clothes and diapers will wash fine in regular laundry detergent, a Bio soap will be more gentle on the fabrics though. 1/2 tide with 1/2 white vinegar is a popular choice. I also like 1/3 Swish, 2/3 laundry detergent , then white vinegarin the rinse cycle. Swish a cleaner of all things (laundry, mop bucket, in a spray bottle like fabreeze, just anywhere in your house).
Homemade Laundry Soap:
There are many recipes for this. I like cheap and simple so here it is:
Mix together dry and add 1/2 cup as dry laundry powder to machine or tub. You can still add vinegar
*To Make Washing Soda: simply put baking soda in a large pan or cookie sheet (evenly) and bake at 400°F for about 20 min stirring occasionally. It will turn from powdery to grainy. You will notice the change as you stir.
You can buy washing soda but for some reason it costs more and is harder to find.
So you have a diaper pail or wet bag full of cloth diaper laundry that has built up over the last 2-3 days.
* do not let go longer then this or ammonia will build up, and its kinda gross to have it sitting there, building up.
The diapers should all be seperate from liners (nothing stuck together), and they should be free of all debris (poop and disposable liners). Also if using Velcro diapers stick Velcro together before washing so it lasts longer
*covers such as PUL that cannot be washed on hottest settings should be sorted into seperate wet bag at change time. Otherwise you need to pull these out now.
Now turn machine to hot or medium heat setting, add detergent mixture of your choice. Let machine fill a little and add diapers and cloth liners. One regular cycle on is all it takes. if soap is left behind rinse with vinegar.
When the washing is done it all goes in the dryer or hung to dry. Now there are a few options to cut down on cost (either in your electric bill or at the laundry mat) amf still give the softness of a dryer.
1. Dry partially then hang to dry, iron to soften.
2. Hang to dry then iron or throw in dryer for 10 min to fluff.
Its that simple.
Poop stains? Do Not Bleach! Bleach breaks fabric fibers and over time you end up with worn out diapers with little holes. Its also rough on babies skin. So what do cloth mama's do? Well most hang in the sun and let the UV rays from the sun bleach them out.
**What do I do?
I lay them on the grass in the sun. The grass/UV combo works wonders and you get the UV direct onto the diaper. It works great and I totally swear by it. What about in the winter? Boil it. Using disposable liners greatly cuts down on poop stains, but when that explosive poop hits, well then you need these simple techniques. If your diaper has elastics (and my hybrids do), dont boils regularly as it wears on the elastic.
LESSON 3: Bleach bad; Nature good.
I have not done this yet except to get out a tough poop stain during the winter (so we are talking 1-3 diapers not a whole load). I am however very interested in this. I just need to track down a very large stock pot. It's simple. Boil water, add tiny amount or laundry soap (tiny, boiling requires less soap!), add clothes and stir. Drain, let diapers cool down over edge of pot (pick up with tongs so as not to burn your hands) and then rinse. *Do not rinse before cooling or you will shrink the diapers and liners!!
You dont need a scrub board as the boiling and stirring does the work. (Stir with a wood spoon or you'll risk burning yourself) This is why I'm interested as a home laundry meathod. If I had to scrub I would not be game. My arms could not handle the work and with a baby who would have the time? I realize boiling a few diapers is different then a whole load, but if I find that big stock pot, I'll let yous all know. *edit* Sunset I went with my hybrid design I wont be doing this method regularly as it's hard in the elastics*
Alright, so diaper laundry isn't as bad or as expensive as it might seem. It doesn't require special products either. It does require doing laundry more often if you have a small family. If you have a large family then chances are you already do laundry every 2-3 days (at least), anyways.
Know Your Diaper!! If your using an AIO or a diaper with a water proof/water repellent layer inside the diaper *please* carefully read the laundry instructions. Often these cannot go on a hot water setting or be boiled. Snaps are also an issue on hottest settings, as is elastic (which can loose its elasticity).