Monday, August 15, 2011

Let The Prepping Begin ! (Washing Machine, Detergent, & Cotton Diapers)

Over the last couple of months I've been acquiring diapers for my diaper stash, but have yet to prep a single one.  I was going to wait till I finished getting a majority of my stash, but I figure I can only prep so many diapers at once and I know it's going to to be a daunting repetitive task so I might as well get started.  Let the prepping begin!

First thing's first ... I need to prep my washer.  I've only had my washing machine two years, but I've yet to ever clean the inside.  I could see a bit of soap scum buildup both at the top of the drum walls as well as on the agitator blades.  That couldn't be good for my cloth diapers.  Better get rid of that before I start prepping.  I set to work researching how to clean my washer.  After scouring tons of websites I settled on an article titled "How To Clean Your Top-Loading Washing Machine".  Feel free to read the article for the full details, but in a nutshell I just ran the washing machine on the highest load setting with the hottest water with 3 cups of distilled white vinegar and 1 cup of baking soda.  After the cycle was done I grabbed a scrub brush and got to work on the soap scum making sure not to scratch the inside of the washer up.  I also cleaned the inside top of the lid, any nooks and crannies, the fabric softener dispenser, and the bleach dispenser.   Soon as that was all done I ran another hot wash cycle with a cup of bleach (I added this step from "How To Clean A Washing Machine").  As a final step I ran a hot wash with nothing in it.  This helped to clean out any of the cleaning products that I just put in there.  I also wiped the machine with a damp cloth.  Voila!  My washer was ready to roll.

When I first started researching cloth diapering I thought I had the whole detergent thing figured out right in the beginning.  I was going to use the Country Save detergent because it seemed to be one of he most popular cloth diaper safe detergents out there.  I'd looked on tons of sites and scanned many safe detergent lists.  I even had it on my registry and couldn't wait to try it out.  Then I started to notice on various cloth diapering social networking community boards that a lot of families were washing their diapers in Tide.  Now technically this detergent is not on the cloth diaper safe list since it does contain dyes, enzymes, brighteners, & fragrances, but it's because of these things that it seems to work.  A lot of the cloth diaper safe detergents just don't seem to get your laundry clean enough unless you have the perfect type of water.  With all that said I've decided to use Tide.  Since they don't sell Original Tide anymore, I purchased Tide Ultra.  You do have to make sure it's the original Tide with nothing else added to it.  It also has to be the powder version (not the liquid).  And if you have an HE washer then you would get the HE version. My only concern with Tide would be if you have a very sensitive baby, but both my girls were fine with regular detergents so I'm confident that we will not have a problem.

If you'd like to do some research on your own before selecting your own detergent please check out the following sites.  They have some great lists of all the available detergents out there and their ratings.

Diaper Jungle
PinStripes and PolkaDots
Zany Zebra
Jillian's Draweres

When my GMD Cloth-eez Unbleached Cotton Prefolds first got to my home they were crisp and flat and new.  I knew they wouldn't always be that way though.  Eventually I'd need to prep them to get the soft, thick, fluffy texture that you look for in a good prefold diaper.  I also have lots of fitted diapers such as Kissaluvs, Rearz, Sustainablebabyish, & Green Scene.  Some of these were knit and just needed a good cleaning and fluff.  Others were fuzzy and linty and needed a good wash to get all the loose fibers off.   Into the wash they went.

1. First, divide your diapers into quantities of 12.  You don't want to overload the washer when prepping.  I ended up with two loads.  One load of 12 cotton prefolds and one load of 12 fitted cotton diapers.
2. Second, do one cold wash cycle on the highest water setting with a tiny bit of detergent.  I filled my scoop about 1/2 way to the 1st line.  This will remove all of the residue from the manufacturing process.  You don't want to bake that stuff into your diapers by starting off with a hot cycle.
3. Third, wash your diapers with hot water on the highest water setting using 1/2 the recommended detergent on the manufacturer's packaging.  I filled my cup up to the 1st line.
4. Fourth, after washing the diapers put them in the dryer on hot till they are dry (about 60min).  Do NOT use fabric dryer sheets.  If you want to speed up your drying time, reduce static, and create a fluffier texture in your laundry then you can invest in 2-6 dryer balls.
5. Fifth, Repeat steps 3 and 4 at least 4-5 times to reach a usable absorbency for your diapers (unless otherwise noted on your diaper's prepping instructions).  Test your diapers just to make sure they are absorbent enough to use on your baby.  Just pour a little water on one of your diapers.  If the water soaks in right away then your diapers are ready to use.  Unbleached and Organic cotton diapers will not reach full absorbency till about 10 wash/dry cycles have been completed, but I just plan on using them after 5 wash/dry cycles keeping in mind that I will need to wash them 5 more times before they are at their most absorbent state.

So far I've only prepped my cotton prefolds and fitted diapers.  I still need to prep all my covers, synthetic, bamboo, hemp, and wool diapers.  I'll save those for another weekend and a later post on my blog.  At least I've got a head start as I hope you do too.  Stay tuned for more prepping, reviews, DIY projects, & Adventures In Fluff !  


  1. Don't worry. I didn't have you get anything that would require this much prep. You just have covers and synthetic materials which only require one wash to get them ready to go.

  2. Wow, great job cleaning out your washing machine! I never bothered to do that... and it's an old (and I mean OLD - from the 1980's)washing machine that has been used by multiple families over the years. *shrug* I guess I didn't think there was anything in it that could really hurt my diapers. Although the nesting phase of pregnancy could be taking over, because all of a sudden, scrubbing out the washing machine sounds like a great (almost fun) idea! :D

  3. Haha! I'm sure you're right Selina. The nesting phase has kicked in and we're now cleaning freaks. : )

  4. We used Charlie's Soap for DD's cloth diapers and loved it so much that it is now our only detergent for the whole family. Unless something weird happens, we will use it for new kiddo too.

  5. I have heard good things about Charlie's Soap as far as CD safe detergents go. It was definitely in my top three detergents to try.

  6. It never occured to me to clean the washer! I'll do that before running a load of diapes tonight. Thanks!

  7. I avoid washer buildup and the high cost of detergents (what with a toddler and baby, plus military hubby, we go through a LOT of laundry!) by making my own detergent! Honestly, it works like a charm, even on toddler's project messes (including fingerpaints, mud, grass stains, marker & playdoh!) hubby's field stains and baby's spitup!

    Here's my recipe:

    These ingredients *rarely* leave washer residue. And I use distilled white vinegar as a softening agent and stinkie buster, which also helps keep the washer clean!

    As for prepping bamboo and hemp, it's not hard at all, just numerous hot wash cycles sans detergent. But definitely worth the labor as they're so absorbent and never have stick issues! I'm interested in seeing what you do for wool prep!

  8. Thanks for the link Mrs. Smitty. I'll have to check out your link and your homemade laundry detergent recipe. I've always been curious about the homemade ones.

  9. Thanks for letting us know about this helpful tips. I'm glad that I came a visit here. Very useful post indeed.

  10. This is nice washing machine information blog. Thanks for Sharing.


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