Cloth diapering your baby may be a dream come true for you. You may have planned to cloth your baby throughout your entire pregnancy, or perhaps you want to give cloth diapering a try. You’ve looked at all the brands, types, colors, styles, and fits. Eventually, you decide to settle on prefolds. You have your stash pretty well built up and you’re ready to prep them – but what to do? Prepping? What is prepping? And just how to you wash these prefolds? Is there a specific way to do things, or do you just toss them into the laundry with the baby’s laundry?
Prefold diapers are usually made from birdseye cotton or gauze, and are the oldest form of cloth diaper and are still the most popular form of cloth diaper in use today. Whether you choose to use diaper pins or Snappi’s, or a generic form of the latter, cloth prefolds are a top choice due to their ease of use, fit, ability to grow with your child, and the fact that they are the most economical choice in terms of up front cost.
Prepping prefold diapers does require some time and patience, and a bit of know how. Today, though, I am taking all the guesswork out of it for you and giving you the rundown on how you can prep those prefolds as quickly as possible with as little stress as possible i three simple steps. Sound good? Read on!
Step 1: Unpackage the prefolds
Assuming you have bought brand new prefolds, you will need to remove them from the package. My favorite prefold brand is Gerber 6 ply birdseye prefolds. They work just as well as some of the more expensive brands at a fraction of the cost. Once you’ve gotten everything unpackaged, toss everything into a pile and move on to step 2.
Step 2: Boiling
One of the keys to prepping cloth prefolds is to remove all of the oils from the fabric before washing them. You will need a large stockpot of filled about 3/4 of the way with fresh water. Bring this water to a boil and add your prefolds to the pot, making sure not to stuff the pot. If you need to work in batches, so be it. You will want to boil the prefolds and stir them every few minutes for 10-20 minutes. If you want the maximum effectiveness in removing the oils, use a small squirt of Dawn dish detergent. TIP: Don’t use any antibacterial dish liquids, as they will undoubtedly irritate your throat and lungs when released into the air. Trust me on this.
Step 3: Removing from Pot to Toss into Washer
When the recommended time has elapsed for the boiling of the diapers, carefully remove them to a towel lined laundry basket by using a pair of tongs and wrapping the cloth diapers around the tongs slightly, allowing excess water to drain out into the pot. The towel will prevent any leakage from the kitchen to the washer, and will also help keep you from getting burned when transferring the basket.
Once all of the diapers have been removed to the basket, run a hot wash with no added detergent or soap of any kind because chances are likely they will still have the Dawn dish soap inside. After a full wash has been run, run another hot wash and add 8-10 soap nuts in a burlap or canvas washing bag, or use Rocking Green laundry soap, which is also recommended. Soap nuts are my detergent of choice because they are 100% natural, biodegradable, and allergen free.You can buy them from health food stores or online. If you used soap nuts, you will need a cold rise. If you used the Rocking Green, you can just do a hot rinse. The, transfer these to the dryer and run on high heat for 40 – 60 minutes. NOTE: DO NOT USE FABRIC SOFTENER OR DRYER SHEETS. These will render the prefolds ineffective. When you remove them from the dryer, you will see the prefold has changed dramatically – it will appear thicker and possibly a bit smaller, with wrinkles. This is a good thing. This is what you want.
Now, your prefolds are prepped and ready to use!
There are myriad tutorials and instructions for various folding methods for different circumstances online, and there are also many videos on YouTube with examples shown on real babies. This is a great way to gain understanding on how to actually fasten the cloth diapers, as well as get a look at the many different folds.
Your prefolds, with proper care, should last you for the entire time your baby is in diapers – unless they outgrow them, and then there are bigger sizes available for purchase. You will likely even be able to resell them after you no longer use them as many moms choose to buy used cloth diapers. There are places like eBay, Amazon, Craigslist and mom groups online which make it a snap to sell used cloth prefolds.
If you find your prefolds stained, you may use pure white bleach on them occasionally – but keep in mind you will need to wash them in the bleach, dry them, and then give them another wash in your regular cloth diaper laundry detergent and dry them again.