Welcome back to our blog. This post deals specifically with washing cloth diapers with hard water. Click here to read up on our introduction to cloth diaper laundry, if you haven't read it already. We’re going to explain, as simply and easily as possible, the effects of hard water on your cloth diapers. To gain a deeper understanding, please refer to the articles quoted at the bottom of this blog.
Ok then, let’s get started!
We saw in our previous post that the key to successful cloth diaper laundry is to ensure that the diapers are CLEAN and that there is NO remnant detergent deposited on the diapers. Hard water makes this really difficult!
- Hard water reduces the effectiveness of detergent - Hard water often contains calcium and magnesium minerals which react with your detergent to create something called ‘soap scum’, leaving behind less detergent to actually clean your diapers. So you may need to use more than the usual amount of detergent you would use with regular water or you’ll end up with unclean diapers or pee buildup.
- Hard water makes it difficult to rinse off detergent completely - The scum created forms a thin film that gets deposited on top of the fabric, which is difficult to remove. Gradually this forms a barrier preventing liquids from being absorbed effectively by your diapers.
- Hard water results in additional mineral deposits on the fabric - If your hard water contains iron and other minerals, they form an additional deposit on your diapers, reducing absorption capacity further.
Problems in your hard water laundry typically surface a month or two after you start washing your diapers in hard water. You will find that the diapers start smelling after even a single pee, whites will start looking pale/grey, and the diapers’ absorption capacity reduces greatly resulting in leaks.
Don’t panic if you face the above issues! Help is at hand!
To begin with, Bumpadum recommends using Rustic Art detergent to wash your diapers if you have hard water. We have confirmed that Rustic Art has specific ingredients that soften hard water. Here is an official comment from Rustic Art about their ingredients:
Borax, or sodium borate, is a naturally occurring alkaline mineral which helps soften hard water to leave your clothes cleaner and brighter.
Soda ash can reduce the impact of trace elements like magnesium and calcium and prevents them from bonding with detergents, making the detergent more effective. It also increases alkalinity, keeps water from being as corrosive and reduces the amount of mineral scale that builds up in your pipes.
Lemon extract also plays a role in softening hard water and keeping the machine and pipes free of salt build up.
Here is a wash routine that has been tested to work:
- Rinse the diaper thoroughly after it comes off the baby.
- Pre-rinse the diapers with a small amount of Rustic Art detergent.
- Wash in warm water with Rustic Art detergent.
- Ensure that you rinse your diapers well as the water softeners contained in Rustic Art form insoluble compounds that will settle on your fabric if not rinsed in the appropriate amount of water.
- Line dry inserts and shell. If required, tumble dry inserts only.
If your diapers already have pee/scum/mineral buildup, we suggest that you first wash the diapers for 2-3 times in hot water, without detergent. This should get rid of any mild buildup. If the problem is not solved, then strip the diapers using RLR Laundry treatment (available on Amazon.com and Amazon.in), there are multiple routines available online (search for "cloth diaper strip RLR").
Once your diapers are clean, use the above recommended wash routine.
Washing with hard water need not be daunting once you have figured out how to deal with it. Just tweak the above routine until it works perfectly for your specific water conditions. Then forget about hard water and enjoy your baby's cuddles :)
Here are a few articles if you want some more detailed reading. Our blog is based on information from a few of these articles as well as our personal experience with diapers.http://www.thinking-about-cloth-diapers.com/cleaning-cloth-diapers.html