Steps in the Wash Cycle

First step: Pre-rinse

You can either use water alone or you can add a bit of detergent to start the initial release of soil. Never use hot water in a pre-rinse as it will set stains, but warm water is better than cold, as body fluids are most soluble at body temperature (warm).

Second step: Wash cycle

You will need significant chemical action to release the soil. Mr. Tinker recommended detergents with an alkali (to dig out soil) and a non-ionic surfactant (to take away soil).

This is the active cleaning agent in most detergents. Surfactants change the chemical and physical relationship between the water and the surface to be cleaned. Some surfactants are naturally occurring and some are synthetic. Soaps are a type of surfactant and natural soaps such as soap nuts, castile soap, Ivory Soap, etc. can work well under ideal water conditions. Unfortunately many of us have less than ideal water conditions and in this case the minerals in our water can bind to the soap and create a scum on the surface of the water. This scum can cause repellency and leaking issues with diapers, and can make them look dingy.



Third step (OPTIONAL): bleaching

This step is important if you need to achieve "hygienically clean" diapers, or if you need to disinfect your diapers. Time and temperature play a crucial role here, especially if using oxygenated bleach. When using oxy-bleach, you will need mechanical action and an adequate temperature in order to activate the bleaching action: very hot water must be used along with at least 10 minutes of agitation.

We encourage the use of oxygenated bleach instead of chlorine bleach for environmental and health reasons, and also because chlorine bleach is extremely destructive to fabrics and laminations. If you do ever use chlorine bleach, for example to deal with a particularly tough yeast infection, it's important to make sure that all urine is completely rinsed out before using it, because urine + chlorine = ammonia smell from chloramines!

Final step: rinsing

Rinsing removes any residual soil and chemicals. It can take more than one rinse to achieve great results. Mr. Tinker recommends rinsing in warm water because it releases residues more effectively. But even more importantly, a warm rinse allows water to be released more efficiently in the spin cycle so that clothes dry more quickly! Fascinating!


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