Monday, January 12, 2009

Laundering Cloth Diapers

Okay, so you have made the cloth diapers from recycled fabrics to help cut down costs. Now, you are faced with a problem.....laundering them. Depending on how many diapers you made, you will be needing to wash them each day or every 2 days. I recommend that you have no less than 2 dozen diapers if you are not wanting to wash them each day. Along with the diapers, I make an equal number of doublers. Two dozen diapers is about what you would need for a 2-day supply for a newborn. As the baby gets older, this amount will last longer. It is best to have more than you think you will need. There often will be times when the extra diapers are handy to have.

Because of a baby's sensitive skin, you need to be cautious in how you launder the diapers. When I wash our infant's diapers and toddler's training pants, I use a mild soap. This means a soap that has no dyes or fragrances. I add a cup of white vinegar to the rinse water. This will remove any soap residue left on the clothing. No commercial fabric softeners are used in the rinse. They lessen the absorbency of the diaper fabric.

When I dry the diapers, I hang them on the line whenever possible. The only times I do not hang them on the line is if I am running short on diapers and need them dried quickly or if the weather is not cooperating. There are several advantages to drying diapers on a clothesline. One obvious advantage is the cost. Drying them on a line is free. You do not have to pay for the energy used. Another is that the diapers are more thoroughly dried. Have you ever noticed that a towel or clothing dried on a clothesline is stiff while the machine dried ones are soft? The tumbling action helps to soften the fabric as well as a small amount of moisture remaining in the fabric. Line dried items are dried through evaporation without the humidity factor that exists in the clothes dryer. The sunlight also will naturally bleach out any stains in the diapers.

The question remains though. How do you avoid using the clothes dryer in bad weather? Well, I have been working on that specific question. One way is to use a drying rack like the expandable free-standing ones made from dowels. These are great as they can be moved to a location where they will do the most good. If you have a wood stove, you can place the drying rack near the stove so that the diapers get the best amount of heat. The moisture evaporating from the diapers as they dry will also help add humidity into the air. Limited on space and cannot use a drying rack? How about using the retractable clotheslines. Installed to be stretched over the bathtub, the diapers will be out of the way while drying. If you live in a rental and cannot install the retractable clothesline, there is another easy & interesting option. I found a blog today that has the directions for making a small cloth diaper drying rack that will fit on your clothes dryer or table. This rack, made from PVC pipe, would be great also for small items such as underclothes, hand towels, wash cloths, dishcloths, socks, etc. If making a rack for your prefold diapers, just measure the longest edge of the diaper and divide the measurement in half. Take that measurement and add about 2 inches to get the height of the drying rack. This will provide plenty of room for the diapers to not be dragging on the table surface as they dry.

I love the concept of this drying rack. It is not glued together, thus you are able to remove the leg portions to store it between uses. Being a PVC material, it is easy to wash and will not develop mold. For many who wish to cut expenses, this rack may be a good investment & project to do.