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December 15th 2010
archived under: Cloth Diapering, Family Life, gWhiz, Series

This post is my fifth in the gWhiz! gDiaper series. In this one, I’ll show you how I manage my diaper laundry. Everyone seems to have their own methods for handling diaper laundry, so this is just one valid way to do it. I figure if you’re not sure where to start, you might like to see how I do it, in detail.

First of all, a flash back to the anatomy of a gDiaper. Your laundry tabs are SUPER important. They make it so that the hook sides of the diaper’s aplix/velcro won’t grab on to everything else in the washing machine. If you don’t use your laundry tabs, you’ll end up with pilly diapers and baby clothes, and/or a long chain of diapers all clinging to each other.

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There are multiple ways to use your laundry tabs. I typically just fold them over on themselves, as in B. This way, when they come out of the dryer, I can snap a liner into the pant, leaving the laundry tabs closed until I need to put the diaper on my baby. Option C may be beneficial for reducing fading though, so that’s something to consider. (You know how many dark wash jeans tell you to turn them inside out before washing? Same theory… less abrasion = less fading)

tab options

Once the laundry tabs are secure, just throw the pant into your baby’s regular laundry hamper. The pants are washed just like clothing – in warm or cold water, with like colors, and tumble-dried. Some people hang them to dry to reduce fading.

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My diaper pail is just a tall skinny trash can. It’s lined with a Rainforest Babies pail liner, and I tuck a regular mesh lingerie bag under the elastic on one side, so that it’s suspended in the pail. The vinyl liners go into the mesh lingerie bag, and inserts, cloth wipes, and wet bags (inside out) go into the main bag.

Babies who are exclusively breastfed (no solid foods yet, no formula) have water-soluble poo and it can go right into your laundry without any extra work.

Once babies start having more … substantial poos… you’ll need to take one more step. Before putting a poopy insert into the diaper pail, you’ll need to spray the poo into the toilet using a diaper sprayer if you’d like, or swish the insert in the toilet to get the poo off, or use a flushable diaper liner on top of your cloth insert, which you can remove – poo and all – and flush.

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Until you’re ready to do laundry, you might notice some smell (not usually, and if you notice it too terribly you probably need to strip your inserts… but that’s another post). There are many ways to control diaper smell in the day or two before you do the laundry.

  1. I use a spice shaker (from World Market) filled with baking soda to sprinkle a bit of the odor-busting stuff into my pail now and then.
  2. Rainforest Babies pail liners come with a little fabric tab on the inside. This is so you can add a few drops of essential oils on the fabric, to make things smell nice.
  3. Rockin’ Green makes a pail deodorizer called Shake it Up! I haven’t noticed this working, honestly, but I got the unscented kind. Their website has several reviews of their “yummy smells” and that might be a better way to go.

But the baking soda is my favorite and seems to be the most effective. Plus, it’s cheap.

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When it’s time to do laundry, zip up the lingerie bag full of liners, then drop it into the pail liner.

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Take the pail liner to your washing machine, and flip the whole thing inside out into the machine. This dumps out all the inserts, wipes, wet bags, and liners, plus it gets your pail liner into position to be washed, itself.

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Add about 1/4 the normal amount of laundry detergent you’d typically use – really. You only need a couple teaspoons for a load of diapers. If you add too much, you’ll get soap residue and your inserts will repel liquids instead of absorbing them.

Wash on warm or cold – not hot, because that can harm the pail liner, wet bags, and gDiaper liners. I usually give it an extra rinse too, just to make sure I’m not allowing detergent to build up.

Diaper Jungle has a great chart for determining which detergents work best with cloth diapers (both for top-loaders and HE machines). We typically use All Free & Clear, or Up & Up (Target’s brand) free & clear.

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When the wash cycle is finished, you’ll need to remove the pail liner, any wet bags, and your gDiaper liners to air dry. I hang bags on the laundry room door knob like this:

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And gDiaper liners go on top of the dryer, or sometimes on Anneliese’s bed or anywhere really. They dry in less than an hour, so wherever they are, it’s not going to be very inconvenient. If they get a little stained on the edges (totally normal), you can hang them to dry in the sun, or lay them in a sunny spot near a window, and the sun will help remove any stains.

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Toss the inserts and cloth wipes into the dryer (along with a baby sock??)…

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And dry. We found out ours take 45 minutes to dry, but I plan to make a few wool dryer balls to see if that might cut drying time a bit. I’ll let you know how it goes once I give it a try!

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Tips and Tricks

  • NEVER use oxyclean on gDiaper liners, wet bags, or pail liners. It will ruin the waterproofing.
  • Also make sure not to use vinegar in your rinse cycle when washing gDiaper liners, wet bags, or pail liners.
  • If you hand-wash your gDiaper liners (not recommended, but some people prefer to), the elastic may become “loose”… pop them in a wash cycle in your machine to fix that.
  • Some people choose to wipe any poo off of the gDiaper liners with a moist wipe before putting it in the wash. I don’t worry about it with exclusively breastfed poo though.
  • If your cloth inserts start to smell funky, once they’re clean, run them through another wash cycle on HOT with no detergent, vinegar in the rinse cycle, and an extra rinse. That will often get the smell out.
  • Or boil them in a huge pot on your stove for 30 minutes. Don’t overcrowd the pot though.
  • If that doesn’t work, sun them. Sun kills the funk, and removes stains too.

And in case all of that seemed too complicated, here’s a summary:

  1. gPants – close velcro laundry tabs, wash like regular clothing.
  2. gDiaper liners, wet bags, anything waterproof – machine wash, cold or warm, NOT hot. Air dry.
  3. gCloth inserts, cloth wipes – machine wash with a little bit of detergent, double rinse if you’d like, machine dry.

Simple!

I’m really excited to share about gDiapers, so if you have any questions about them, feel free to leave them in a comment here and I’ll try to address those curiosities in further posts.







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