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Wash & Care - Cloth Collective 2022 Prompt Day One

Today's prompt is wash & care. Today we talk about how we wash cloth diapers, struggles with wash routine, experience with handwashing, etc.

First, let's focus on wash routines and wash routine struggles.

Wash routines can be a sensitive topic in the cloth diapering community. These days, the most fashionable and acceptable advice cloth diapering parents give to newbies is to create a "simple, effective wash routine." Mostly this advice has come into popularity to combat the excesses and unreasonableness of Facebook group "wash routine culture". Because, despite the initial disgust you may feel over washing cloth diapers- it's just really dirty laundry.

I personally agree with the advice to keep wash routines simple. However, it's important to remember that- being told that wash routines are "So simple, don't overthink it," can make someone feel like the dumbest person in the world when they're currently struggling with wash routine.

I have personally struggled with wash routine, and it is a huge pet peeve for me when people claim never to have had wash routine struggles. This is not because I'm jealous of their experience (well, maybe a little), but because I seriously doubt its truth. Never? Never, ever?

I doubt this because, although washing cloth diapers should be a fairly straightforward process, finding what that involves for your situation is by no means straightforward. There are so many factors influencing the way you wash your diapers. It really is a unique process for everyone. So if you're struggling with wash routine, you're not stupid. You need more time, you need to learn a little more, do a little more investigating. You're not failing.

This was my experience:

I started cloth diapering, and I had a nagging feeling that things weren't getting clean. The diapers smelled vaguely of poop by the elastic line, and I just had no idea what was normal and what wasn't. I read some things online that just sounded really crazy- like using way more than the recommended amount of detergent or way less, keeping them in a wet pail, etc. I don't know if it was wisdom or laziness that kept me from following the advice I read- but I kept thinking that things just had to be more simple than that.

I wasn't sure what I was doing wrong, and it led me to take a break from cloth diapering for awhile. Dealing with cloth diapers gave me anxiety, and I just felt like a failure.

After a month or so long break, I came back to cloth diapering and decided I was going to keep making little changes until I figured out what was going wrong. Eventually I figured out what worked for me. But, even since then, things have changed in my life that led me to update my wash routine.

Why wash routines can be a moving target

Because lives change. Washing machines break down, the store runs out of our detergent, we have a new baby, we travel, we move, we change diaper styles... the list goes on and on and on.

All of the above alter our wash routine. Maybe every so slightly, maybe in a big way. This is why I take issue when people deny ever having had a single time where they felt that their diaper routine needed a tune up.

Using basic principles to work through issues

A wash routine is made up of lots of little decisions. They all have a purpose. Understanding their purpose will put you far ahead of the game. Here are some basic principles that may change the way you think about your diaper laundry.

- Washing frequently prevents setting of stains and smells.

- Allowing diapers to breathe (well-ventilated storage area) reduces smell.

- Detergent doesn't kill germs/bacteria. Heat does.

- Water hardness will play a tremendous role in how you can effectively clean diapers.

- Diapers need agitation. This means there shouldn't be too many or too little in your loads.

- Prewashing helps remove traces of pee before the main wash, and will almost always help your diapers get cleaner.

- Natural fibers are often much easier to get clean than synthetic fibers

- Use of diaper creams that aren't cloth safe will affect how clean your diapers get and how well they absorb.

- Balance often leads to the best result.

Don't forget to get to know the washing machine you're using (if you have one).

Take some time to observe what it actually does when it washes a load of laundry, and that may reveal additional factors influencing the effectiveness of your wash routine.

Things you may choose to look for:

- How long is the wash cycle?

- How big is the drum? (Which leads us to ask: Am I washing too many or too few diapers at a time to get proper agitation?)

- Is your machine using enough water?

- Is the water getting to the temperature you want it to?

- Are there too many suds left after the cycle is finished?

Learn from other people's experiences.

We already discussed the wide array of circumstances that will affect the way we wash diapers. If you need reassurance that there really is no set way to do it, I recommend that you take a look on YouTube and see the wide variety of cloth diapering parents out there, and how much their choices of wash routine can vary.

As you watch them share their experiences, question your ideas of what a wash routine involves. If someone does something wildly different than you would, and yet doesn't have issues- is it possible that, although it wouldn't work in your situation, it works just fine in theirs?

Here are some links to videos from cloth diapering moms that demonstrate the variety of circumstances and preferences present in the cloth diapering community.

Farmhouse on Boone

Wilson Homestead

Cloth Diaper Review

Nurse Liz

And that brings us to the end of this very long blog post. Thank you so much if you've stuck around this far. If you have benefited from this post- or know someone that would- please share it.

As always, if you have questions please send me a message. If you're struggling with cloth diapering, book a free consultation and let's chat about it.

The end.

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