If the exhaustion from staying up with a sleepless baby doesn't wear you out, coping with a large amount of baby laundry may. Some strategic planning and well-chosen laundry products can help tame the washday load, turning it into a manageable task.
Whether you bought new baby clothes or were given hand-me-downs from a friend or relative, plan to wash anything your baby hasn't worn before you add it to her wardrobe. New fabrics contain sizing and other chemicals that can make them feel harsh and itchy, especially on a baby's sensitive skin. Inherited baby clothes may contain residue from a detergent your baby can't tolerate. Don't wash new garments until you're sure you'll use them, so you can return them if they lack seasonal appropriateness when she finally grows in to them.
Pick up an inexpensive zippered mesh lingerie bag to wash baby socks, preventing them from going missing, especially in a stacked front-loading washer with a door at your eye level. Before you toss everything in the washer, fasten garment closures, especially hook-and-loop tape, to stop them from snagging other fabrics. Treat garment-care labels like the law of the land to avoid laundry-induced damage or premature fading of delicate fabrics.
Powders & Liquids
To avoid the need for two sets of laundry products, one for the baby and one for the rest of the family, switch your entire household to an unscented, dye-free formula that won't irritate your baby's delicate skin, eyes or nose. Select your detergent for compatibility with your washer as well as your little one. Liquid products dissolve and rinse out more thoroughly than powders. If you use a high-efficiency washer, skip regular detergents in favor of HE-friendly, low-suds products. Suds actually interfere with HE wash and rinse processes, which use sprayed water instead of the soak-and-agitate techniques of older washing equipment.
The Diaper-Cleaning Process
If you're using cloth diapers instead of disposable diapers, you need to treat them differently and separately from the rest of your wash. Rinse them in the bathroom to avoid contaminating a sink with waste. Store rinsed diapers in a covered diaper pail and soak or prewash them when it's time for diaper laundry, roughly every three days for an average stash. Wash them in hot water to get them sanitary and keep your washer ready for other laundry. If your washer includes a sanitizing high-temperature wash cycle, use it for diaper cleaning.
Fabric softener reduces cloth's absorption properties, so add white vinegar to the rinse cycle instead. Its smell disappears when the cloth dries. If your washer includes a touch-screen control panel that can save custom laundry cycles, create one just for diapers so you can save setup time.
Get the Spots Out
Experiment with spot removers to find the ones that offer you the best performance, expecting to use more than one to handle the stains you face. Enzyme-based products excel at getting rid of protein-based stains and also work on waste. Cool-water rinsing keeps fresh stains from setting and a rinse-soak-pretreat strategy often works best, regardless of the staining source. A layer of cornstarch on top of oily spots from skin-smoothing preparations draws out the greasiness. Scrape off the powder after about 15 minutes and pretreat the area. For safety's sake, never mix chlorine bleach with either ammonia or vinegar, as these combinations produce toxic, potentially lethal fumes.
Photo Credits: Shauna Hundeby/Demand Media
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