Today, I’m going to talk to you about “prepping“ your prefolds!
Why is it important to prep your prefolds?
So, how do you prep prefolds?
If your diapers are bright white, they’ve been “bleached” or chemically treated to remove most of their natural oils and bring about that lovely, clean diaper look. Although most of their natural oils have been removed, they’ll likely arrive to you large and stiff. They’ll need to be prepped in order to shrink them down and soften them up. To prep, simply run them through a hot water wash, with detergent, then dry on high heat. Ideally, you’ll want to do this 2 or 3 times to get them fully prepped and to their state of maximum absorbency.
If your diapers are more of a natural (oatmeal) color, they’re unbleached and will need more of a heavy-duty prepping. These diapers will need to be washed (with detergent) and dried between 5-10 times before they reach maximum absorbency. The detergent is needed to “strip” them of their natural oils. These wash cycles will use up a lot of time, energy (yours and your home’s), and water. When I have to prep anything with natural fibers, I usually throw them in with my normal laundry or towels to conserve resources.
Just remember, since natural fibers contain natural oils you’ll need to wash them separately from your regular diaper laundry for the first few times, otherwise those natural oils may coat your other diapers causing them to repel and leak.
Yes, an easier (but more dangerous) way to strip prefolds of their natural oils is to boil them. Although, a lot of companies and retailers do not recommend this method because it can be hazardous handling scalding hot diapers and large pots of boiling water. If you do choose to use this method, please be careful. There are a lot of helpful tutorials and videos about this online that you watch before you decide whether you’d like to boil or not.
Here’s how I prepped my prefolds:
1.) Fill a large stock pot with water and a small squirt (Seriously, a small squirt! A little goes a long way – use less than a teaspoon) of blue Dawn and bring it to a boil.
2.) Add your prefolds a few at a time – depending on the size of your pot you may be able to add more – and boil them for 30 minutes.
3.) Transfer the boiled prefolds into a large bowl/pot/bucket using tongs. You’ll notice the water has a dingy tint to it – that would be the natural oils that you’ve just stripped from your diapers.
4.) Drain the dingy water then repeat until all of your diapers have been boiled.
5.) Once they’re all done transfer the boiled diapers into the washing machine (probably not more than 18-24 diapers at a time depending on their size. Wash them on HOT without detergent. If you have any suds you’ll need to repeat the rinse cycle until they’re gone.
6.) Dry them on medium or hot in the dryer.
Please note: DO NOT boil anything with SNAPS, ELASTIC, or PUL/TPU – this will cause irreparable damage to your diapers.
Once prepped, the prefolds will have shrunken a bit (up to about 25% or so), will have “quilted up” nicely.