In the cloth diapering world, I’m somewhat of a semi-purist with my preference for prefolds. (I consider people who use flats to be purists) Whenever you purchase cloth prefolds, they must be seasoned before use to have effective absorbency. This is especially true if you use unbleached, natural fibers, as there are still oils left in the cloth that need to be removed in order for the diaper to absorb liquids properly. Most manufacturers will recommend an intense washing & drying regimen of usually about 5 or 6 complete wash and dry cycles. That seems a bit excessive; I’m impatient, hate to waste water (even w/ an HE washing machine), and want to use the most economical approach.
I boil my diapers for at least 30 minutes. While pregnant and building my stash, I had quite a few diaper-cooking sessions (I have over 75 prefolds in newborn to toddler sizes). All of my prefolds, excepting a dozen that were thrown in with a bulk pocket diaper lot I purchased, are natural fibers, so they needed to be stripped of their natural oils. What I do is throw a max of 6 diapers in a lobster pot, squirt a dash of Dawn dish detergent (Original formula), bring to a boil, and let boil for at least 30 minutes. At the end of the boiling time, I use tongs to remove my diapers (CAUTION: they are extremely hot and will stay hot for a while – I’ve burned myself several times) and set in a colander in the sink to drain and cool off.
Don’t be alarmed by the sight or smell of the water left in your pot; the water will be a greenish-yellow and might have a pungent odor. The discolored water and stinky smell is a good sign, it means that you’ve successfully stripped oils from the fiber.
Once my diapers have cooled, I wring them out and transfer to the washer for a full wash cycle on hot, with diaper detergent, and dry in the dryer as usual. That, my friends, will get you off to a great start; your diapers will continue to season and become more absorbent as you wash and dry them after use. Oh! And don’t be alarmed when your prefolds come out of the dryer at a third of the size there were when they went in, they’re meant to shrink up after washing and drying.
Always keep a bottle of Dawn Original handy in your laundry area, as this will be your go to product for stripping diapers, if you should ever need to. Because I use prefolds, I’ve not had a need to strip them in their 8 1/2 months of use, but you can never be too prepared…
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