Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Washing Cloth Diapers at the Laundry Mat

I am a very fortunate renter to have a washing machine in my Brooklyn apartment.  But last week, it started dripping into the apartment below, so we had to discontinue using it until the plumber could make the necessary repairs.  Of course this happened the night before wash day!

So…it was off to the laundry mat with my diapers in tow.  We actually made two trips last week.  I put my prefolds back into rotation in order to stretch my stash for three days.  I filled up both diaper pails and both hanging wet bags…two kiddos in diapers means a lot of dirty ones!

Washing Diapers at the Laundry MatElaine thoroughly enjoyed the experience…for a while!

Here are a couple of tips, but I am by no means a pro at doing this since I have only washed diapers at the laundry mat a couple of times!

:: Select a laundry mat with new{er} machines.  One laundry mat near us has machines that allow you to select a pre-rinse cycle.  Perfect for cloth diapers!  The second laundry mat that I went to (the one that is within walking distance) didn’t have this option.

:: Pay extra for the larger machine.  You want to be sure your diapers are getting clean enough.  A larger machine uses more water to wash out the urine.  It also means you don’t have to try to stuff everything in the small machine, which could mean that your diapers don’t have enough room to agitate properly.

:: Don’t dry pockets for the full cycle.  The PUL/TPU (waterproof) portion of pocket diapers and diaper covers will last longer if it is line dried.  I was down to my last diaper before I went to the laundry mat, so I didn’t have the luxury of waiting for them to line dry.  I put everything in the drier for two “quarter” cycles – about 12-14 minutes.  Then I removed the pockets and finished drying the inserts on high heat.

Washing Diapers at the Laundry Mat

:: To save money, you can line dry at home.  If you have to do this on a regular basis, you can save some money by bringing everything home to dry on a rack or clothesline.  I needed my diapers in a hurry because I waited until the last minute to go wash, but if I had planned ahead I would have dried everything at home.

:: Add a little (just a teeny bit) of detergent to the pre-rinse. I suppose I am prejudiced against front loading machines, but I wanted to be sure my diapers came clean, and I didn’t want to pay to wash them again.  So I added a small boost to the pre-rinse cycle with a little detergent.

:: Make sure your wet bag isn’t full of water.  This is my first experience with a front loader.  I found that it didn’t spin my things out quite as well as my top loader.  I had to wring out the wet bags before putting them into the dryer to prevent them from soaking everything else.

Washing Diapers at the Laundry MatThis is what it looked like when I dumped everything out in my living room.  Three days worth of diapers for two kids!

How about you?  Do you wash at the laundry mat regularly?  Any tips to share?  Would you still use cloth diapers if you did  have to wash at the laundry mat?  I came to the conclusion that I would, though it is definitely more work!

For a full list of washing tips, please visit the FAQ section of our website.

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