Washing in Cold Water

Sarah - posted on 02/15/2010 ( 22 moms have responded )

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Does anyone wash their diapers in cold water only or know of someone who does? We currently only have cold water running to our washer, and we would prefer not to have to use hot. However, many websites I've read have suggested that diapers need to be washed in hot water. Any insight would be appreciated!

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Majaliwa - posted on 03/01/2010

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Sarah,
I'm the owner of a cloth diapering business and over the past year I've done a lot of research on the net and on my own just to see what worked best for my family. Here's what I can tell you about cold washing.

When you wash your diapers you should rinse them first in cold water. This helps to remove all of the nasties in them and gets out the bulk of the stains. Next you'll want to wash them in hot water - reason being, the hot water kills whatever bacteria may be lying still in the diaper. Residual bacteria can irritate baby's bum and can also cause diaper rash - in some cases serious diaper rash if they're really sensitive. With that said, if you choose not to use hot water you will need to add an additive to your wash to help kill the germs. Two recommendations are (1) vinegar - just throw this in the wash during the rinse cycle OR use a downy ball filled half way with vinegar and it will open during the rinse cycle on its own. (2) Biokleen Bacout - this is an enzyme that comes in spray form that literally eats away the bacteria off of the diaper. You'll spray this on your diapers when you put them in the diaper pail and let it sit for a few hours. Then throw the diapers in the wash. Biokleen Bacout however is known to linger on diapers, so you'll want to wash your diapers twice in cold water to make sure it all rinses out. If not, it too will irritate baby's bum and cause a rash.

Hope that helps.

You can find out more tips like this on my website at http://www.pootersdiapers.com/howto-guid...

Regards,
Maj Bass
Mompreneur
Pooters Diapers (www.pootersdiapers.com)

Selia - posted on 02/16/2010

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I only use cold, it works fine and saves energy. I do get a few more stains, but once the sun comes out sun bleaching should take that issue away. I am more concerned with my power bill than stains, plus my washer doesn't have a cold rinse/hot wash option, it is one or the other, so I'd have to catch it at the right time and change it over; too much with a baby!

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Angela - posted on 02/27/2010

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Hi, I have always washed mine in cold water. I soak them in napisan first, then just wash them with the normal baby laundry liquid, and I have never had any issues with stains etc. Hope this helps.

Kelly - posted on 02/26/2010

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Bum Genius recommends 2 washes: a cold water wash, then a hot water wash with an extra rinse (only HALF the detergent and the detergent should be free of perfumes/dyes). I had a problem with my hot water on my washing machine and was only getting luke warm water for my "hot" wash. After a few months, they did have a lingering smell and were starting to leak a little. When I fixed the hot water issue on my machine, I stripped my diapers per the instructions from Bum Genius and they are like new. I do think HOT water is necessary for stripping them. Also, when visiting my parents, I used the HE washing machine and the smell was terrible after a week. In my experience, standard washers work much better for diapers. I have had my baby in BG 3.0 one size's from the beginning and she is now 7 months old. I LOVE these diapers. Follow the washing directions from BG and your diapers will last. They have an excellent 1 year warrantee too. I just exchanged 8 of my diapers where the soft velcro strip started coming unstitched. . Cottonbabies, the makers of BG have a website with a forum that can answer many questions for you. www.cottonbabies.com

Rachael - posted on 02/25/2010

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Hi,

I wash all cloth nappies in cold water only. They have been soaked in napisan overnight and then washed. I hang them on the clothes line to dry in the sun. No problems.

All nappies stay white.

[deleted account]

I have done cold before. if you don't already add vinegar in the fabric softer slot or use the downy balls if you don't have a slot. This will help kill the ph levels that can cause irritation. And it helps kill gems that can build up in your washer. This was something that was suggested by the store that I bought my cloth diapers from in St. Paul MN.

Jennifer - posted on 02/24/2010

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I washed in cold water during the summer and it worked just fine because I laid the diapers out in the sun after they were washed, which works as a disinfectant. Because I'm in Minnesota, there isn't much sun during the winter, I had to switch to hot water because they weren't coming very clean (they really smelled when he peed in them). But I plan on reverting to cold water and sunshine come spring! :) Hope that helps! Also - it shouldn't be a problem to share diapers between siblings - lots of people do it and I plan to do it when I have another baby too! Good luck!

Daye - posted on 02/23/2010

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Hi Sara, Thank you for thinking of me but if you don't get around to posting your cold water wash routine once you get started cloth diapering for real, then don't worry about it. I remember what it like having a new born and you really only have time for important stuff, and you forget to do stuff all the time.
I am loving this post and have really learned a lot. I think I may have stumbled across a routine that works for me. I soak the inserts, liners and wipes, overnight with 1/2 the recommended amount of oxiclean, in the morning I put in poopy covers and let them soak for 30 min to an hour. Then I poor in everything else (pee covers, whatever else ended up in the diaper pail) and let the machine cycle through. THEN I get my trusty bucket and I fill up about 3-4 buckets of steaming hot water from the bath tub which is right next to my washer and fill up the washing machine with that using a small amount of charlie's soap that I was smart enough to bring with me from the States. I wash every 2 days. I line dry the covers as always and some inserts if they are stained. And so far I have gotten lovely results!!!
So I know I am going out of my way for hot water but keep in mind my washer is not the washer that all you other Mom's are using, It's an old Japanese washer. It doesn't have fancy functions like rinse only, etc. And the controls are all in Japanese Kanji, some katakana which I can't read. I can only read Hiragana and even then I can't understand what I have sounded out usually.
Now that it's getting sunnier, I may stop using oxiclean, which is expensive here and questionable for diaper covers anyway. And if I have trouble again I will experiment with baking soda and rice vinegar (can only find rice vinegar here) and perhaps dish soap depending on the situation.
I want to end with the fact that when you first start cloth diapering it is incredibly simple. Baby breast milk poo (and formula poo too I think) doesn't smell and washes right off! It can stain a bit, but no smells. And staining can be taken care of by the sun. At first you will think "how can anyone have issues with cloth diapering?", you could use a rock and river water and they would come out fine probably. But then solid food becomes most or all of their diet and their poo gets like ours. . . not so easy to deal with then. So you may be returning to this thread in 7 months to a year. Just want you to not be taken by surprise like I was!
Best of luck to you and thank you and all the other mamas for this conversation!
Daye

C - posted on 02/23/2010

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I do a double wash, but you could skip the second and line dry in the sun maybe. I put them in at night with cold water and about 1/2 the detergent I normally use plus a squirt of dawn liquid soap. I run it in the morning. Then I do a short hot cycle with just vinegar in a downy ball. The vinegar helps with any ammonia smell and is a natural whitener and softener.

Janine - posted on 02/23/2010

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I have Bum Genius diapers, and have only washed them in cold water, but I do use a cold water detergent. And dried them in the dryer. My DS is now 14 months, and I have no stains on any of my diapers.
I also plan on sharing diapers. The only pain will come when I put the small diaper on the large kid :)

Sarah - posted on 02/22/2010

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Thank you everyone!! I'm glad to hear that cold water will work. I'm feeling much more confident. We have an outdoor line as well as a well-sunned indoor line to dry on. I will try out the other tricks mentioned!!! (Daye, I will let you know what my results are.) Thanks again. : )

Maggie - posted on 02/22/2010

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I've only ever used cold water on my diapers. They get plenty clean! Especially if you use Charlie's Soap - they smell so fresh!!!!
Line dry to kill germs and remove stains.

[deleted account]

I had trouble with staining when my littlie started solids. I usually dump about a tablespoon of baking soda on the stained bits before I put them in the cold wash which lifts the stains really well. I've also used a teeny-tiny bit of dishwashing detergent in the wash which not only lifts any residue but also 'strips' the nappy which actually improves the absorbancy. Hope this helps

Daye - posted on 02/21/2010

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Oh I just thought of something. You probably already know this but washing with liquid detergent is suppose to be better than washing with powdered laundry detergent when you use cold water.

Linda - posted on 02/21/2010

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I use cold with an occasional hot cycle. I wash with Shaklee laundry powder-made for use in cold water. It works great and we have less staining than washing in hot.

Tammy - posted on 02/19/2010

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I also only use cold water to wash my nappies. I do a pre-rinse if there is any solid residue, then a normal amount of detergent with 1/2 cup of vinegar. I then wash and rinse twice and line dry in the sun. I've never had any problems.

Chela - posted on 02/17/2010

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I only use cold water with normal amount of detergent, then I line-dry the nappies. I've never had a problem.

Daye - posted on 02/16/2010

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I am forced to use cold b/c I live in a country whose washers only use cold, and I don't have a rinse only option or any other fancy options that allow second rinses and shorter/ longer washes etc.



I cloth diapered for a year in America before moving abroad. And I had a great washer. I DO think hot water is best. Now that I am using only cold I must wash 3 times sometimes to get my diapers clean!!!



I am in the middle of figuring out how to best wash my diapers. I line dry the covers but not the inserts. It's winter here now and my apartment is really shady. I think SUN is the most important thing for cloth diapers regardless of the type washer you have or water temperature. Line drying in the sun kills germs, bleaches your diapers, kills the smells usually. It's great.



I'm probably going to start drying the diaper inserts on my bike or on a tarp outside or something when it stops raining.



I would not add more soap w/o carefully thinking this through or watching diligently the results. Too much soap can decrease absorbency and increase smells.



With cold water only I think you should be resigned to two washes and some soaking overnight of the inserts.



Really think about your decision. If you only have to wash once w/ hot water but twice with cold are you really saving more energy, certainly not more water lol!



Good luck with your diapers!!! If you come across a good system PLEASE post it cause I am struggling with my cold water only washer. :)

Sarah - posted on 02/16/2010

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I always wash my diapers in hot water, particularly if there's poo involved. But I could imagine that washing diapers in cold water would be okay if there is only pee in them. Maybe throw a little extra detergent in there with them?

[deleted account]

Would you have 2 in diapers at one time? I've not done this personally, and I don't think I know anyone who has, but alot of people do have more than 1 in diapers at a time and share between siblings, and I think that's generally safe since siblings tend to share germs anyway. The only thing that I personally would worry about is that if one happened to get a yeast infection diaper rash, a stomach virus, something contagious etc. (But as germaphobic as I am though, I did 'borrow' a diaper insert from a friend once when I put diaper ointment on my baby and she offered so I didn't get the diaper ointment on my cover and we didn't get sick). Again, though if you can line dry in the sun, then that's going to take care of any germs. I have a few bumgenius and I'll admit they are my favorites. (I've also read EVERYWHERE that you shouldn't use diaper ointments with cloth, but I do when we need it. I don't slather it on at every diaper change, only sparingly only if needed and haven't had an absorbancy problem.) I'm glad to hear that you are CDing with your first baby. Good luck!

Sarah - posted on 02/15/2010

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We're expecting our first, but planning on having another baby. We have a full stock of BumGenius diapers, so we planned on sharing them. Do you think sharing would be an issue?

[deleted account]

My friend is on her 3rd CD baby, and only washes her diapers in cold. If you line dry in the sun, then it will kill any germs. If you are cloth diapering one baby, and not sharing them, then it should be fine. I used to wash mine in cold only, but started every couple of washes doing a hot load once we started solids for stains. And since we've had so much snow/rain/cloudy days, I've been doing hot washes since I've been drying on a rack in the house and not in the sun. I can't tell any difference though.

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