Sunday, April 14, 2013

Cleaning Cloth Diapers

The cleaning: As I mentioned before, we decided to use the Laundromat down the street to clean our cloth diapers along with our other laundry. There are a couple of methods you can use to handle dirty cloth diapers. Some suggest just storing them in a closed plastic trash can or laundry bag with baking soda or scented oils on the bottom to keep smells out. I tried that, it still stinks! Others suggest having a “wet pail”, which is basically a closed lid bucket or trash you keep filled with water and let the diapers soak until you’re ready to wash. I tried that, it still stinks! By the time I got to the laundry mat with wet or dried on pee or poop diapers, I was a walking trail of stink. It was truly a walk of shame. I’d throw the diapers in the wash and quickly shut the washing machine door before anyone noticed the stench was coming from me. It wasn’t horrible like NYC trash on hot summer day stink; it was more like ammonia (the lingering pee smell) mixed with a faint smell of poop stink. It’s bearable in your own home with your own washing machine, but not fair to other public laundry users. So, my husband said “Forget about the Laundromat, I’ll just hand wash them myself”. After I picked my jaw up off the floor, I realized he was serious. He’s a frugal man, and on that day, I saw he’s the world’s best dad and I can’t wait to tell our daughter that he hand washed her poop diapers. I will say this only works for us because he’s at home with her during the day. If our daughter was in day-care or had another caretaker I might have gone with the all-in-one diaper plan and the dry bag that we’d hand wash ourselves at night.
Now my husband’s routine may sound overwhelming, but really it’s not that bad. And I usually take on the tasks during the weekend when I’m home all day. The baby goes through about 6-10 pre-folds and maybe 2-3 diaper covers a day depending on if the diaper covers get wet or dirty. In a whole day, only 2 or 3 of the diaper changes have poop. So as the day goes by and she does her business, my husband just takes out
the pre-fold from the diaper cover and rinses it with water to get the pee out. Then he sets it aside in a bucket or in the tub or bathroom sink until he can wash it with soap later in the day. If there’s poop, he shakes or scrapes the solids into the toilet, then follows the same routine as the pee diapers. Some cloth diaper users use handheld sprayers attached to the toilet or bath to spray off the poopy diapers, but I didn’t find it necessary to invest in. At the end of the night, he gets his bucket and soap and hand washes the small pile of dirty pre-folds. Then, he wrings them out and hangs them to dry. If he has a heavier load, I occasionally help out or hang out with him in the bathroom while he does the washing. Then, we either hang them in the bathroom or on a clothesline we put up in her room. It may sound crazy but it works and isn’t a big burden at all. On a few occasions, the loads did pile up in which case we were sometimes left with our stinky bucket problem. But it never lasts long and by changing the water we are able to buy ourselves another odor-free day. If we are really behind, we resort to the laundry method we started with but that is only on a rare occasion. We use Dr. Bronners Baby Mild Soap or sometimes just use the baby’s SheaMoisture Raw Shea Chamomile & Argan Oil Baby Head-To-Toe Wash & Shampoo. There was a short period when we started introducing Leena-Deen to different foods so she was going through more diapers while her body adjusted. My husband was washing more diapers each night and started getting raw chapped hands, so I bought him some dishwashing gloves and later even ordered a Wonder Washer for $60 which is basically a plug in cleaning appliance that swishes around a small load of clothes. Think of it as an oversized blender for clothes. It didn’t work when it arrived (busted motor) and after testing out the replacement, we both realized we were better off hand washing in a bucket and using a stick to swish the clothes around. Needless to say, I returned the item. Good old fashioned hand washing worked for us. Maybe on our next round with our a second child, I might want to find something to assist us with wringing out the diapers. But I’m hoping that by baby #2, we’re living in a bigger place where we can utilize an energy efficient washer/dryer. However, knowing my husband, we’ll probably be using a bicycle or solar powered machine!

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