Once I was finished shopping for my thrift store/Wal-Mart diaper stash, it was time to get everything clean. I sorted everything from the thrift store into light and dark items and removed tags. I set the fabric from Wal-Mart aside to wash separately.
I don't know about you, but I always wash anything I buy from the thrift store. That's a good rule of thumb. But when you're buying items for the express purpose of using them to cloth diaper- or you're buying actual cloth diapers secondhand- you want to be a little extra careful.
Here's what I did and a little explanation of my reasoning behind it.
As mentioned, I sorted items into light and dark first. Then I washed each load with hot water on a heavy cycle (longest cycle) with the recommended amount of detergent and about 1/4 cup of bleach. I added an extra rinse. Once items were done in the washing machine, I put them in the dryer on medium-high.
- Hot water. To help sanitize the laundry.
-Heavy cycle. To allow plenty of time for your items to soak in water, to agitate, and to get clean
- Recommended amount of detergent. Using too much will actually make your items less clean. (Sounds crazy, but it's true!)
- Bleach. To sanitize. You can use alternatives if bleach is something you fundamentally disagree with using. I used it specifically because I am washing used cloth diapers and used bedding. Bleach is often necessary when washing used cloth diapers, in the event that the previous baby using them had a yeast infection.
- Extra rinse. To make sure the bleach was thoroughly removed. If you're particularly concerned about bleach being left in your items, I would recommend substituting with white vinegar.
- Dryer on medium high. This is very important, and I would argue that there isn't really any wiggle room on this one. If you're concerned about putting certain items in the dryer on hot you can choose to sun bleach them. But- without giving too much detail or scaring anyone needlessly- when buying from thrift stores we need to be extra careful of- ahem- living things that might be on the items you've purchased. Some of those living things may be able to survive anything you put them through in the washing machine. What will really eliminate them is at least 30 minutes on medium high or high heat in the dryer.
Similar Principles Apply to Hand Washing
If you need to handwash your thrifted diaper materials- similar principles will apply.
- Use the hottest water possible
- Opting for white vinegar instead of bleach might be advisable in this case.
- Use gloves when handwashing with white vinegar or bleach.
- If using bleach, make sure you're working in a well-ventilated area.
- Rinse more thoroughly than usual after using bleach- to ensure that it isn't left behind in the clothes.
- Use the sun to help naturally whiten and sanitize.
*Special note- When washing used items without access to a dryer- you will often have good results by line drying in the sun. However, from my experience working with families through the healthcare system, I have learned that not everything potentially living on bedding from the thrift store can be killed at "naturally occurring" temperatures (such as in the sun). If you're concerned about that possibility, you have a few options:
- Use someone else's dryer for the day
Visit a laundromat or a friend's house and use their dryer. Make sure you use medium-high heat.
- Use an oven
I have also heard of this type of sanitizing being done using an oven. Orkin has some parameters on how this could be done: (https://www.orkin.com/pests/bed-bugs/does-heating-or-freezing-kill-bed-bugs) Always, always use extreme caution and do your own research before taking this approach.
And that's it! Hope this is helpful to someone. If you have any questions, please ask! If you're experiencing diaper need and would like to have help building a budget cloth diaper stash, please send me a message to schedule a free consultation.