When working a cloth diaper outreach booth at a fair, people immediately touch the diapers and ask about how they work. After I’ve explained the cloth diaper equation (all diapers need two things – moisture absorbency + moisture resistance) and shown them a few different diapers, they dive into the next question, “so, how exactly do you CARE for the diapers?”, with kind of a little wink/nod on the word “care”. To answer the question, I come prepared. One of our Circle members put together a poster with pictures and captions describing the entire process from taking the diaper off the babe through washing, drying, and restocking, and the visuals are perfect for introducing the cloth diaper laundering process.
The fact is, basic care of simple, reusable cloth diapers is pretty straightforward. However, talk with a group of cloth diaperers long enough, and you’ll find that many have run into some trouble laundering their diapers. There are many variables between diaperers – we’re not all using flats and (optional) wool covers and washing by hand like our grandmothers did. Different diapering materials and how they’re sewn together, a variety of washing machine types and routines, different detergent ingredients and formulations, variations in water type, baby health and skin sensitivities – - all these and more can have an effect on the diapers themselves, requiring each cloth diaperer to find the right combination of diaper and care routine that works best for them.
That said, there is a lot of advice out there amongst the experts. I have learned so much from the other moms in my Real Diaper Circle! Some of them have taken it upon themselves to conduct chemistry experiments in our particular water to help give local advice on detergents. Others generously share their methods for overcoming obstacles. Over the years, I’ve heard MANY tips and tricks for solving diaper care problems, and some of those have been so useful that they’ve become part of my initial introduction to diaper care.
Since many people don’t have such a great support network, the Real Diaper Association continues the 100% Reusable Cloth Diapers campaign, which is intended to help people succeed with reusable cloth diapers in every situation. In each phase of the campaign, the RDA collects advice from the experts (parents!) and compiles it into a tip sheet for people struggling to overcome that obstacle. In the previous phases of the campaign, we’ve helped parents cloth diaper overnight and use cloth diapers while traveling. Now we’d like to help people identify the laundering process that will work for them.
If you’ve been cloth diapering for any amount of time, you’ve probably picked up a trick or two. Please contribute to the campaign by sharing your advice for caring for cloth diapers here. Thanks for your help!!
Executive Director, Real Diaper Association