It is noteworthy to address that certain new cloth diapers and its inserts shall be washed and tumble dried before the very first usage. This is to remove the chemical finish coated on top, which purposely applied to please consumers with a sensible feeling of 'new fabric'. Upon removing this water-repellent finish, typically up to three complete wash/dry cycles, the ability of diaper absorption should be improving substantially.
Before placing the dirty diapers in the pail, solids have to be cleaned off as much as possible and flushed away in the toilet. There is a great trend to place disposable liners inside the cloth diapers in making this easier. You may put dirty diapers in a half-filled diaper pail. It is always a good practice to unfold the diapers to facilitate a complete cleaning. If you are washing cloth diapers frequently, you can put them in a dry pail. However, it is always reminded to keep the diaper pail out of the reach of your children, especially for wet pail which filled with water and detergent.
Cloth Diapers can be soaked with a mixture of water and 1/4 cup of additive free detergent. Presoaking of diapers helps a lot to loosen stains before the actual wash cycle. Half cup of baking soda can also be added into the presoak cycle, as it will neutralize the alkalinity of urine while whitening the diapers.
When you are almost ready to wash them, excess liquid shall be drained off prior to washing process. For machine washing, you may simply use the programmed spin cycle to help you to remove the soaking solution. It is highly recommended to place cloth diapers into the zipped laundry bag. All diapers (especially for Hook-and-Loop or Velcro closure) have to be fastened completely on their fold back tabs. This is to prevent deformation of diapers' edge and chaining of stuck diapers during the spinning process.
For machine washed cloth diapers, they should always be started with a cold rinse cycle with detergent. Detergents containing scented additives, softeners or bleach shall be avoided at all time. Heavily scented detergents, with artificial fragrances usually made from petroleum, will irritate your baby's skin and eye. They do not degrade in the environment upon draining off from your home and may have toxic effects on natural habitats. Fabric softeners are used to prevent static cling and make fabric softer. Through the formation of thin chemical layer, they will prevent the buildup of static electricity and improving the stain resistance and minimize cloth wrinkles. However, this sheet-form waxy layer will cause cloth diapers to repel water instead of absorbing liquid, and also deteriorate the quality of water-proof laminate on diaper covers. Alternatively, baking soda and some eco-friendly softeners which are hypoallergenic can be used to create similar softening effect.
Once the cold wash cycle is completed, 2 warm rinse cycles will be carried out to rinse out any residue left in the diapers. The residue can lead to repelling of liquid, skin rashes and irritation, stinky diapers and color fading for fabric. They are either caused by unidentified additives such as brighteners, enzymes, fabric softeners, natural extracts like citrus or grape seed, soaps and stain guards. They might be beneficial to normal clothes, but unfavorable for cloth diapers.
Brighteners are tiny particles that stick to the surface of diapers in making them brighter by absorbing invisible ultraviolet light and re-emitting it as white light. Optically, this UV enhancer makes your diapers brighter by commanding blue tones to hide away brown and yellow tones. But the chemical residues would consequently cause skin irritation or allergies to your baby. Enzymes are originally added into the detergent to break down any organic stains like oil, blood or grass. However, they are also attacking organic compounds that are lingering on baby's skin in the presence of moisture, like urine or feces. They will eventually cause painful blistering, sores and rashes depending on the skin sensitivity of your baby. On the other hand, pure soaps, even being labeled as natural choice, will also leave a residue by the formation of soap scum on your diapers and covers. This oily scum will conversely weaken the functional effect of both diaper and its cover, i.e. making diapers repel moisture and making diaper covers absorb water. Stain guards are normally protecting fabric fiber with a layer of impermeable coat to prevent stains. While repelling stains, it also repel wetness and bring adverse effect on the required absorbency of cloth diapers.
After cloth diapers are rinsed, it is advisable for you to smell your diapers prior to drying process. If they smell stinky, you ought to use additional detergent at an optimum level. If they smell more like the added detergent, then you have to do another thorough rinse to get rid of the residue. Meanwhile, stubborn stain has to be visually inspected before drying the diapers. Those stains can still be removed easily if they are detected prior to drying process. Most cloth diapers can be dried under hot mode (high heat) in the dryer or line-dried under direct sunlight. Sunshine is indeed a powerful stain remover in keeping the cloth diapers white and smelling fresh.
In fact, a thorough drying process is crucial for cloth diapers as the addictive free detergent can only cleaned but not disinfect diapers. Without the addition of chlorine bleach, hydrogen peroxide or iodine which is harsh on the clothes and baby's skin, the bacteria and viruses cannot be disinfected during the washing process of diapers. For diaper covers, they can actually be air-dried or dried at low mode in the dryer. Excessive heat exposure may affect their waterproofing performance and associated wear resistance. You may always refer to the washing instructions of diaper covers from respective manufacturers.