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Washing Out The Truth: Cloth Diapers And Hard Water

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The decision to use cloth diapers instead of disposable diapers is simple for many families. Cloth diapers don't end up in a landfill like disposable diapers, they are better for the environment, they are better for your baby's skin, and they are more cost effective over time – less than 1/3 the cost of disposables. However, having hard water could affect your use of cloth diapers. When it's time to wash cloth diapers in your washing machine, here's what you need to know if you have hard water.

Why Hard Water Is Bad

You may not notice hard water problems until you have to scrub away mineral deposits in your sink or shower. Those same deposits that build up around faucets or shower walls also build up in the fabric of the cloth diapers. As mineral deposits accumulate in diapers, they also trap bacteria. Here are some results:

  • Detergent residue
  • Ammonia and other stinky issues
  • Diaper rash or burns
  • Diapers become less absorbent
  • Leaky diapers

How To Get Around Hard Water Problems

Having a good routine for washing definitely deters the impact of hard water. Too little detergent on heavily soiled cloth diapers can be risky. When it comes to cloth diaper laundry day, more detergent is better.

  1. Use the proper amount of detergent and added water softeners. Powdered detergents have more water softeners built in than liquid detergent. They also rinse cleaner. To give your detergent a boost to work more effectively, add your own softeners to your wash routine. Pour ½ cup of Borax or 1 capful of Calgon to the main wash cycle.
  2. Do not use multiple rinses or too much water for the load size. Rinsing again after the wash cycle is complete only redeposits hard minerals back into the cloth diapers that the detergent just worked hard to keep away. Too much water for the load size weakens the detergent, allowing minerals to overwhelm everything and build up once more in the cloth. The diapers need friction to properly clean each other. Free-floating in too much water will not allow this.

Removing Hard Water Build Up

If you have been using hard water for a while and your cloth diapers have a buildup of minerals and bacteria, it's time to bleach them. Here's how to do just that.

  • Using your top-loading washing machine, add ¾ cup bleach for a large load.
  • Splash-less and scented bleach will not work.
  • Soak for 45 minutes, then rinse in hot water.
  • Follow with a hot wash cycle using the recommended amount of detergent. This will break down the bleach and allow a cleaner rinse.

Instead of just adjusting your routine to deal with hard water, you also have the option to treat your water using conditioning or water softeners. For information and options to treat your hard water problem at the source, contact a water treatment company such as Osby Water Services Co.