I wrote a while back about having to strip our cloth diapers. I may have mentioned that fabric softener is the bane of my existence, as well. If not, you now how I hate hate hate it. It messes with the diapers, it’s bad for the equipment, and it’s not good for your health, either!
Anyway, it seems that when you combine pocket diapers with HE washing machines you are just asking for trouble. Pocket diapers tend to absorb smells a bit more because of the synthetic fibers, and HE machines use less water (1/3-2/3 of normal top loaders) so detergents have issues dissolving. Between detergent build up, left over fabric softener from our neighbors’ laundry, and acidic toddler urine, the diapers started smelling of ammonia. Gross!
One of the most confusing things to me has been figuring out a decent wash routine since our washing situation is not straight forward (i.e. we don’t have our own machines, the machines we use are coin-op and HE, and we have soft water). I have googled ‘washing pocket diapers in HE machines’ to no end and have been working on tweaking our routine with what I found. So, to save someone out there time, here is our routine:
Hot wash with 1/2 cup baking soda (in HE machines that only take liquid detergent such as ours, you have to throw the baking soda in the tumbler with the diapers; amount of baking soda is dependent upon size of laundry load) and 2 tablespoons of Country Save detergent (neither Purex F&C nor Planet were any good in our situation). Throw about 1/2 cup of vinegar (equal to amount of baking soda) in the rinse to restore the ph of the diapers (since baking soda can screw with it). Then, second wash (or just a second rinse if you have that option) with Cold water and throw a few drops of Tea Tree Oil in the rinse.
If this sounds like too much trouble and you haven’t yet bought your diaper stash, stick with prefolds or fitteds made with natural fibers.