Learning how to wash your cloth diapers is much like an ongoing science experiment. What works for you may not work for your friend down the street, or in the next city.
First, consider the number of diapers you have or want to have into your diaper wash routine. For example, a cloth diaper stash of 20-24 diapers for a child up to 3 months of age is going to warrant a washing cycle every two days. However, the same diaper stash for a toddler is going to mean more days in between laundry cycles. At this point, it is important to ensure you are still washing every two to three days, even if your toddler or older child is not soiling all the diapers in your collection! Seasoned cloth advocates with a large stash can attest to the importance of washing every two to three days, even if your diaper collection goes way beyond that! The longer your diapers stay soiled the smellier they get and it will also decrease their lifespan.
Secondly, you may want to invest in a smaller size diaper detergent until you find one that is going to work for the water type in your home and your child’s skin type. Any child can react to ANY detergent, not just the ones they ‘warn’ you about on many popular cloth diapering sites. Additionally, once you find that detergent that works, don’t change it up! If it works, why change it? I have done that often when testing new cloth diaper detergents for my store. But I seem to always go back to my original detergent because it works for me (I am a Nellies all the way girl!).
Thirdly, always consult the diaper manufacturer’s website when troubleshooting. Often this is overlooked, and we assume that cloth diaper laundering is the same for every brand and style of diaper. For example, a problem you are having with pocket diapers may not be resolved the same way with a hemp fitted diaper. So remember to check the manufacturer’s website and even the tags for washing instructions.
Finally, don’t forget to go back to the store owner where you bought your diapers. They have a wealth of information to share with you, and will spend time with you to ensure that your cloth diapering experience is a positive one!
The key is to not give up as there is always a solution to smelly diapers. The problem is finding it. Sometimes it takes many attempts but you will eventually find out what works for you. I also recommend you keep your washing routine simple. Don’t start adding things to your laundry just for the fun of it. Keep it simple and if it doesn’t work then you should consider other solutions/ additives, etc.
Here are my first recommendations as a simple laundry routine for customers starting to use cloth diapers...
1) Wash every 2-3 days
2) Start with a pre-wash with cold water, no detergent
Your diapers should smell clean at the end of the cycle, they should not have a harsh smell when your baby pees in them and they should continue to have the same absorbency as when you started using them.