Thrifty Thursday – Taking Care of Your Cloth Diapers

by on June 19, 2008

Last week I wrote about cloth diapers. This week I would like to elaborate a bit more on the care of the cloth diapers as well as a few more tips for being a good steward of your funds while keeping your children clean.

Rinsing the Dirty Diapers

Last week I talked about attaching a kitchen sprayer to your toilet to clean out the dirty diapers. It is not as hard as one would think and it does not take as much time as one would think. Another benefit of having the sprayer attached to the toilet is that it makes rinsing down the bath tub much easier than just using a cup of water. (Because I keep my hair short, I usually cut it myself in the bath tub so as to contain the cut hair.)

At the end of this article, I have included step-by-step directions for how to make the diaper sprayer as well as how to attach it to your toilet.

Containing the Diapers

There are a couple schools of thoughts on what to do with the diapers while they are waiting to be washed. The first is to fill the diaper pale (trash can or whatever) about 1/4 or 1/3 of the way full with water and sprinkling some baking soda which acts as a neutralizer for the odor. The problem with this is that when the pale gets full of diapers and the additional water from spraying them out or the other bodily fluids that come in diapers, it tends to get pretty heavy. Unless you have handles to carry it, it can become very awkward to carry.

The second school of thought is to just rinse them in the toilet and toss them into the container. Our trash can that contains the diapers has a lid that flips open that we bought at Wal-Mart for like $8. My wife and I have discovered that the odor is hardly there and that it is easier to not only carry but to get into the wash machine. If there is an odor, we use vinegar during the first rinse cycle.

Washing the Diapers

***This is only cost effective if you have a washer and dryer. I would not do this at a laundromat or on-site coin laundry at a complex.***

The actual washing (or warshing if you are from the mid-west!) of the diapers is a two-step process in the washing machine. First, you dump the diapers into the wash and set the machine on the second rinse cycle (after the first spin cycle) This will agitate the diapers and get any extra junk out of the diapers and then spin them out before actually washing them. This is an important step.

After this first step is done, you then act as though you are washing a regular load of laundry except you should use a liquid detergent (All or ERA is what we use) that does not have any perfume or dyes. To be honest, I am not sure why this is necessary, but everything I have read says that this helps extend the life of the diaper.

I always set my load setting on the largest load capacity in order that there is more water for the diapers to be washed in. I also use the hot/hot setting for the water temperature. It is my opinion that this helps with the sterilization of the diapers each wash.

Drying the Diapers

We use two methods for this as well depending on how much time we have on a given day. The first method is to throw them in the dryer and set them on the low heat setting. This usually takes 40 minutes to dry the diapers completely. If you uses the high heat setting, the diapers begin to crack and the longevity of them is much less.

The second method is to hang them on a rack or clothesline to dry. We do not set them in the sun for the same reason we do not set them on the high heat. We hang them on a clothes rack we bought at Wal-Mart (bet you wouldn’t have guessed that) and then put them in front of one of our fans overnight (or not). After they are done drying this way, we throw them in the dryer on the no heat cycle just to fluff them up a bit.

It may seem like a lot of work put into saving a few bucks on diapers, but it really is not. We have two kids in diapers which translates to about two extra loads of “laundry” each week. Spraying out the dirty diapers does not take very long at all, either.

I will write later on how to either make your own wipes out of paper towels or simply make your own cloth wipes.

Directions on how to make a diaper sprayer

Supplies needed- you can get them at any hardware store

3/8″x3/8″x3/8″ tee
barb splicer
sink sprayer
hose clamps 2
toilet supply line

1. Shut off water at the valve behind the toilet
2. Remove supply line to toilet from the valve
3. Install 3/8″x3/8″x3/8″ tee to valve (One end should be horizontal- the other two are up and down)
***One of the two “up and down” ends needs to be a male (with the ability to attach to something) end and the other a female (with the ability to receive an attachment) end. The horizontal part needs to be female.***
4. Take the removed supply line and install it to the tee-the top of the tee
5. Cut off large end of new toilet supply line
6. Insert the barb splicer (this will connect the toilet supply line and the sprayer)
7. Put hose clamp on the new toilet supply line
8. Cut off very end of the sink sprayer
9. Install on the other end of the barb splicer
10. Add all of this to the other end of the 3/8″x3/8″x3/8″ tee-which is horizontal
11. You are finished. You can buy a hook to hang the sprayer on the wall.

Total cost: about $17.00-$21.00.

Comments

can’t help myself from commenting on the diaper posts, lol. Just to keep in mind these are great instructions for all-in-ones or pockets. But an fyi: fitteds & prefolds (basically any type of diaper that uses a separate water-proof cover) can handle MUCH more ‘abuse’. I wash my diapers & covers together & then take out the covers to air-dry. The diapers are dried on high ALL the time. When we lived in VA & had access to a laundry line I purposely put them in direct sunlight to dry as this not only kills germs but removes stains! (oddly enough). 🙂

The perfume-free, dye-free detergent is so avoid anything that would decrease the absorbancy of the diapers. Detergents with alot of extra stuff in them tend to create a film on the diapers that makes them much less absorbant over time.

Jenn, I agree these instructions are pretty specific to AIO’s or pockets (which is what we use and Terry is familiar with) but other styles can handle much more abuse.

I have heard the sun can act as a bleach to remove stains (since using bleach would be very very bad for our AIO’s) but there is so much pollen in our air, I just cringe at the idea of that on the diapers (and therefore sensitive bottoms!) 🙂