The Basics to Washing Cloth Diapers

Learn How to Wash Cloth Diapers

Good for you for choosing cloth diapering! Using cloth diapers is definitely a green alternative to disposable diapers. If done right you should also save money over the long term. The rule generally is that your cloth diapers are only as green as the habits you use to care for them. Read on to understand how to wash your cloth diapers to ensure you save energy and money in the long run. 

 

How to wash cloth diapers the eco-friendly way

Doing a half-full load of laundry daily with the heat turned up high and then tumbling them dry will not only add to the environmental cost of your cloth diapers, it will also rack up a considerable utility bill. That’s because about 19% of your home energy bill goes to heating water,[1] making it the biggest cost of your laundry routine. Not only that, but your clothes washer can use up to 21.7% of the water consumed in your home.[2] But there are plenty of things you can do if you want to make your eco baby diaper choice even more green. Consider how you wash cloth diapers by choosing eco-friendly habits and techniques to further boost your natural diaper choice:

  • Baking soda: Put dirty cloth diapers (after emptying solids into the toilet) into a dry diaper pail, sprinkling them with baking soda to control odors. Add some essential oils like tea tree or lavender to help mask bad smells.
  • Close Velcro: Make your washable diapers last a good long while by ensuring that you fasten all Velcro tabs to prevent pilling and snags.
  • Natural laundry soap: Wash with detergents that are phosphate-, fragrance-, and dye-free, such as Charlie’s Soap, Ecover Delicate Wash HE, Seventh Generation Baby Laundry Liquid Detergent, Mountain Green Baby products, or Biokleen Free & Clear Laundry Powder. For more information check out our natural laundry detergent article. 
  • No chlorine: Never use chlorine bleach—not only does it create earth-unfriendly dioxins,[3] it will also eat away at the fibers of your cloth diapers, shortening their life. Check out our article on natural bleach alternatives
  • Full loads only: Wash only full loads of laundry to make the most out of the detergent, water, and energy that you consume.
  • Low water temperatures: Avoid using hot water for your laundry by keeping the temperature below 60°C.
  • Line dry: Line dry all of your cloth nappies rather than running them through the electric or gas dryer. If you want them to be fluffier, hang them dry until they’re just barely damp them through them in the dryer for 5 minutes to fluff them up and dry them the rest of the way.
  • Multiple children: Use your diapers for more than one child.
  • Give them away: Once you’re done with your cloth diapers, give them away or sell them in a secondhand shop (see above) so that another family can wear them out thoroughly.

 

Cloth diaper cleaning services

If you’re looking for convenience in your natural diaper choices, a cloth diaper cleaning service might be the way to go, but choose your service wisely. Just like you’d want to select the greenest diapers for your baby, and then care for them with the most eco-friendly habits, so too should you demand the same of your diapering service. So when talking to them, ask the following questions:

  • If diapers are provided, what fabrics are used to make their diapers? [Look for organic cotton, bamboo, or hemp.]
  • How do they launder their diapers? [Make sure they keep temperatures below 60°C, ask whether they line-dry, and verify that they use natural laundry detergents (fragrance- and dye-free), and make sure they never use chlorine bleach.]
  • How far do they have to drive to get to your home? [You don’t want to add greenhouse gas emissions to your diapering scheme by choosing a service that comes from an hour away or more.]





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References

1 Using Water Wisely in the Home. (n.d.). Retrieved April 13, 2010, from US Environmental Protection Agency: http://www.epa.gov/watersense/docs/waterconservation_final_508.pdf

2 Every Drop Counts: Conserve Water At Home. (n.d.). Retrieved from The University of Georgia: http://www.fcs.uga.edu/ext/pubs/hace/HACE-E-69.pdf

3 Allsopp, M. (1994, September). Achieving Zero Dioxin. Retrieved April 14, 2010, from Greenpeace: http://archive.greenpeace.org/toxics/reports/azd/azd.html

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