We've been living in our studio apartment for over two and a half years- all the while making weekly trips to the laundromat. When we started using cloth diapers, that changed to bi-weekly. There have been a few weeks when people have offered their homes for the laundry (Thanks Faith, Monique, and Vanessa), but the majority of the time, I've trekked the 2 blocks. How does that work with cloth diapers? The same way it worked with clothes, though there are a few special considerations.
First, we had to pick a couple of days to do laundry. In general, I go on Mondays for diapers only and Thursdays for everything. This is because our laundromat has assigned some of the washers to only be $1/wash on Thursdays. Saving us money! One of my favorite benefits of the laundromat is that you can get everything washed all at once. You don't have to spend hours doing laundry! Just 60-90 minutes!
- Pour the detergent in. We have a mild detergent without any perfumes or fragrances. Some diapers need specific detergents. The microfiber in the Bum Genius can hold onto the urine smell if the detergent isn't one that rinses well from it. You can avoid that complication simply by using flats or prefolds to stuff the pockets since those don't have detergent restrictions like microfiber does.
- Throw diapers and wipes and wet bags in. Our diaper "pail" is just a really large wet bag that we wash with the diapers.
- A few drops of tea tree oil get thrown in. It's antibacterial and smells really good. It is also expensive, but that is why I only use a few drops. Our tiny bottle has lasted us over half a year so far.
- Set to the hottest, most agitating setting. I want the diapers to get clean! There are no "extra rinse" settings at the laundromat like some home washers have, so I'm pretty aggressive with the settings.
- I used to add a cup of white vinegar when the cycle changed to "rinse" to eliminate odors. I've heard that vinegar ruins the microfiber of the Bum Genius, so I've stopped. Of course, if you choose to stuff your pocket diapers with something other than microfiber, go ahead and do this. If vinegar is ok with microfiber, someone please let me know.
- Put the diapers and inserts in the dryer. You can put the covers and pockets in the dryer, but I've found that the heat of the dryer has ruined some covers. The plastic parts melted into themselves. Not good. Of course, it's summer now, so I dry both diapers and covers on a line: saves money and energy.
One of the pitfalls of the laundromat is that you can't control the detergent other people have used previously in the machines. I always wash the diapers in a machine that is in a corner and hard to reach, hoping that it's used less and so will have less detergent residue.
What about stripping the diapers? There are times when cloth diapers do need to be stripped for smells. Most sources online will tell you to wash the duapers on a couple cycles of super hot water, which isn't possible at the laundromat. Our simple solution is to boil the diapers. We have a very large stock pot and when I need to strip the diapers, I plan on boiling then in that. Stock pots also come in handy when you give birth at home in a tub.
I know that, "I have to wash my diapers at the laundromat" sounds like an overwhelming thought. It was to me originally, too. But really, it's not a big deal and it's easier than this post makes it sound, I promise.
If you're in Provo, the laundromats with $1 washes on Thursdays are the ones on Freedom: next to Honks and the one at the corner of 3rd south. Hope that helps you, Melissa! And I hope your washer gets fixed soon!