"What do you do with them when they're dirty?"
This is a common question I get when people ask about cloth diapering. The obvious and short answer is "I wash them." I really know that people are asking what I do with the poop. People seem to be really scared of poop. Let's face it-if you have a child in diapers, you have to deal with poop whether you toss the diapers in the garbage or the laundry. Here's a quick run down on cloth diaper laundry.
~If a diaper is wet, it's very easy. I just take it off, take the insert out ( if it's a pocket) and throw it in the pail. If it's a poo diaper, I shake the poop off into the toilet (which incidentally, you're supposed to do with disposables as well). Sometimes the poop is very sticky-I call it "peanut butter poop." These aren't as easy. I get as much in the toilet as I can, then rinse it. This is where a diaper sprayer comes in handy. It's a device that attaches to your toilet and allows you to spray the diapers right at the toilet. If this doesn't seem up your alley, you can use disposable liners-just shake the whole thing right into the toilet.
***Liners and shaking does not work with exclusively breastfed babies. The good news is that this poop doesn't really smell (it actually has a buttery smell) and rinses very easily.
~On laundry day (preferably every two to three days) dump it all in your washer. If your washer has a soak option, presoaking is a good idea. If you don't have this option, running the diapers on two cycles may be best. Remember to use less detergent than you would other laundry. I do one cycle with detergent and hot water, then another cycle to really rinse it. If you find the diapers aren't getting clean, up the amount of detergent. It's easier than using too much and having a ton of suds to rinse.
You may find that this routine doesn't work. Washing routines vary largely from person to person. The kind of washer and water you have really influences your wash routine. Always start by keeping it simple first, then fiddling with it if it doesn't work.
Detergents are also a sticky subject. Some people use regular Tide, while others hate it. Just remember not to use free and clear versions or fabric softeners. These both coat your diapers and make them water repellant. Not fun. If you are having trouble with your regular laundry detergent, some popular and/or "natural" brands that people use on their diapers are:
Kirkland (Costco brand)
I have not tried all of these detergents. Remember that the kind of water and machine you have will affect how these detergents work. Some babies are sensitive to ingredients in certain detergents and can develop rashes, so make sure to read ingredient labels first-if in doubt-use another detergent.
Here are some links for detergent ratings: regular detergent and HE detergent
Best advice-keep it simple. There are some tricks you can use (baking soda, vinegar) that I'll talk more about later.