Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Washing Cloth Diapers in an HE washer
It's time for The Cloth Diaper Carnival part Deux!!! I've had a High Efficiency (HE) washer for almost 5 years & I LOVE it! When I started cloth diapering last year I was unaware that many people considered it much more difficult to wash cloth diapers in an HE washer. While I was doing research to figure out the best way to wash diapers, I came across horror stories about people who had given up on cloth because they couldn't get the stink out of their diapers in an HE washer. Honestly, I'm glad I read this AFTER I was already successfully washing cloth diapers in my HE washer.
Here is the routine I used for the first year: cold wash on express setting, HOT wash/cold rinse on heavy duty with 1/4 the regular amount of All Free & Clear liquid detergent, cold wash on express setting with 1/2 cup white vinegar instead of detergent. Using this method I never had any build up or stink problems. A few months ago, I started hearing that vinegar can deteriorate the elastic used in cloth diapers & can sometimes hold the odor in micro fiber inserts. I also had the opportunity to try some new detergent options.
The first option I tried was soap nuts...they are an organic cleaner & actually worked GREAT on my diapers! I was able to eliminate the extra cold cycle at the end of my routine using soap nuts. I received my first sample of them from RG Natural Babies when I made a diaper purchase from their store. A few weeks later, I won a package in a blog giveaway.
Next I decided to try Rockin Green Soap because I was hearing wonderful things about it on twitter. I wanted to order a GADBaby diaper anyway & since they had flat rate shipping, I purchased 3 samples of Rockin Green Soap....Cherry Almond, Vanilla Buttercream & Brown Sugar. The package smelled wonderful before I even got it open! Cherry Almond was my favorite, so I ran a load of towels in HOT with it for my first load and was thrilled with the way it made my laundry room smell. When I took the towels out of the wash they were super clean & had no smell at all....no stink, no perfume, just clean!!! The first time I washed my diapers in Rockin Green, I was pleasantly surprised to find that I didn't need an extra cold cycle at the end of my routine.
While I was still enjoying my Rockin Green samples, I had an opportunity to try the new Natural Baby Company cloth diaper detergent Tiny Bubbles. It comes in a traditional cardboard box like commercial detergents, but is formulated for cloth diapers with no brighteners or additives. It is not scented at all. I waited until my Rockin Green was all gone, then gave it a try. It got my diapers clean, but left an odd smell. I was back to needing a cold cycle at the end of my routine & wasn't overly happy that the odd smell never quite left the diapers. I want to clarify, the smell isn't "bad" some people might not even notice it, but to me my diapers are left smelling like chemicals when I wash them in Tiny Bubbles. This is really unfortunate because Tiny Bubbles is currently the only cloth diaper detergent I can purchase locally.
Lucky for me, I recently won a package of Rockin Green....this time I chose Cherry Lemonade!!! I'm so tempted to save it only for cloth diapers, but I find that my washer works best if I don't switch detergents for different types of load. 90 loads of wash goes by really fast in my house.
I LOVE my current routine....Cold wash/cold rinse on express cycle with no detergent. HOT wash/cold rinse on heavy duty cycle with 2 Tablespoons of Rockin Green. July & August have been really wet, so I've been using the dryer a lot more than I like. I put all the diapers in for 40 minutes on High heat. I hang the PUL covers on skirt hangers in the laundry room. When the dryer is done, if my hemp & bamboo aren't completely dry I hang them on hangers too. When the weather is dry & sunny, I line dry everything & put the fitteds in the dryer for 15 minutes when I bring them in off the line to soften them. Sunshine is GREAT for getting any stains out, unfortunately we haven't had much this summer. Because of the heat, I'm washing diapers every other day to avoid mildew. The rest of the year I was washing every 3rd day. Stay tuned for more updates on this subject, I just discovered I have won a Diaper Sprayer in another blog giveaway!!! I've always just swished messy diapers in the toilet, a new adventure will be starting soon!!!
Having an HE washer really hasn't been an obstacle for me. I'm careful not to wash too many diapers at one time (about 16 works well for me) & I always choose the cycle that uses the most water for my main wash. When using a powdered detergent, I have had to reposition the gate on the soap dispensing drawer to insure the detergent gets into the wash. I find that both Rockin Green & Tiny Bubbles dissolve fine in hot or cold water. I was happy with my original routine, but with just a little experimenting I was able to find a method that works even better & takes less time.