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Thursday, November 11, 2010

Washing Cloth Diapers from Rockin' Green

First let me say, Happy Veteran's Day! And thank you to all the troops that make our freedom possible!

Today's post is from Rockin' Green. You can see the entire thing here: http://rockingreensoap.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/How-to-Wash-Cloth-Diapers.pdf

With Rockin' Green as our current giveaway, April and I thought it fitting to share their tips and recommendations on washing your cloth diapers. :) Here's Kim!

How to Wash Cloth Diapers

Over the past year, I have answered several thousand questions
about washing cloth diapers. The funny thing is a portion of those
emails aren’t even about our cloth diaper detergent. Many moms
come to us asking for help with the detergent that they have on
hand, and we are more than happy to help whenever possible.
More babies in cloth is good for everyone! The most common
question I get asked is about the “perfect” cloth diaper wash

It seems like everyone has a “perfect” routine. They have a “tried
and true” method on what works for them, and they are eager to
share it with others. Unfortunately, as many of you have found out,
what works for one person won’t work for another. This can make a
seemingly simple process very complicated!

But here at Rockin’ Green, we think of washing diapers as a math
problem: 1 + 1 + 1+ 1+ 1 =5.

There are 5 variables that come into play in the wash cycle, and
once you understand these variables, you can adjust accordingly to
get the best results possible. Sometimes there are things that you just
can’t change, so you have to work around them.

Variable #1: Your water.
This is something that we talk about A LOT
at Rockin’ Green, and for good reason.
Water is the first and the most important
thing that goes into your washing
machine. It dilutes and carries away soils,
and allows the detergent to do its job. But
tap water is never pure. It contains
impurities like minerals that can bind with
detergent, and actually make it more
difficult to get a good clean. This is one of
those variables that you don’t have much
control over (unless you invest money in a
water softener), so your best plan of
attack is to know what you are working with and compensate for it
with the other variables like detergent.

Variable # 2 The Swish.
I recently had a customer who
was battling the dreaded stink,
and couldn’t for the life of her
figure out why she had such
trouble getting her diapers clean.
Her wash routine sounded fine,
she washed a small load every
night, but still the stink endured.
Then one day she got backed up
on laundry and ended up doing 2
days worth of diapers instead of
her usual one. And the diapers came out much better. She learned
an important lesson about the power of the “swish”. Swish or
agitation is a very important component of any good wash routine.
The diapers need to not only move around in the wash tub, but they
also need to rub up against one another. Think of how you wash
your hands- do you run them under water to get lather, or do you
rub your hands together?
With too many diapers in a load, they just rotate around the tub in a
bunch. Not enough diapers and they swim around the wash basin
blissfully (and dirtily) unaware of their neighbors. So if you have a top
loader, load the machine to about the halfway point. For a front
loader, you want to have enough items in the drum to where you
can put a hands width between the top of the drum and the

Variable # 3 Temperature
Most machines have 3 settings. Cold, warm
or hot….and as cloth diapering guru’s you
should be pretty familiar with the basic
cloth diaper wash routine. Do a rinse on
cold, a wash on hot, and then another
rinse on cold, but there are some variables
even in that. First off, what is your water
heater set at? This can have a direct effect
on how clean your diapers are. Most
bacteria die when the water reaches a
temp of 130-140 degrees (and many detergent ingredients react
faster in this temp range), so an adjustment in your water heater can
make a big difference. Most diaper manufacturers warn against
temps of 150 and over when PUL is involved, so keep your water
heater set at around 130 for day to day washings. Note: It will usually
come out of the tap about 10 degrees cooler
Disclaimer: Always check with your diaper manufacturer regarding
recommended wash procedure and temperature thresholds,
especially when PUL is involved.
Temperature can also play a part when it comes to stains. Did you
know that the best way to treat a stain is by rinsing it out at the same
temperature that the stain was created? So leave the cold rinsing for
ice cream stains, and move the dial to warm for poop stains. They
were created at 98.6 after all!

Variable #4 Time fixes all
“Rock a Soak” has become
a common cloth diapering
term, and there is some
science behind it. The
amount of time that your
diapers are in the wash will
also help determine your
outcome. The chemicals in
your detergent have different reaction times that can be affected
by things like temperature and water quality, so you may find that a
longer wash cycle in some cases gets you better results, because it
allows the detergent to actually do its job as opposed to being
flushed down the drain. If you have really hard water, or a water
heater that isn’t up to par….you can lengthen your wash cycle to
compensate. Note: this is why front loader cycles take FOREVE)
because they have to make up for the lack of swish. 

Variable #5 Detergent (You didn’t think we
would forget that did you?)
As a detergent manufacturer you would
think that we would place this at the top
of the list, but that just isn’t the case. Don’t
get me wrong, I think that Rockin’ Green
cloth diaper detergent rocks – but its one
piece of the puzzle. Within that black and
green bag, you have the tools to
overcome things like poor water quality
and hardness (which is why we have 3
different formulas based on your water
type), but you have to find the sweet spot
there too. Generally speaking you want to start off with 1-3 tbs, but
you may adjust up or down depending on the other 4 variables.

Another tip: when it comes time to add the soap, try dropping down
the water level in your machine. This will increase the concentration
of soap and the swish! So in your initial and post rinses, you want to
keep the water level high but in your hot wash with the soap try
dropping it down to a medium water level. This should give you a
better clean!

Ok….so seriously, just tell me what a “perfect” routine is already Kim!
By now, you probably know that there is no perfect routine. The key
to finding the sweet spot is to look at every piece of the puzzle, and
then adjust as needed. You may need to add a little more soap to
make up for an overstuffed washer, crank up your water heater to
make up for a lack of swish in your front loader, or lengthen the time
your diapers spend in the washer to make up for hard water. And
the list goes on and on….

I hope this helps some of you struggling with finding the “perfect”
wash routine! Check us out at www.RockinGreenSoap.com for more
wash tips and tools. And be on the lookout for Funk Rock- Ammonia
Buster - Coming Soon!

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