Laundry for dummies


In the last eight weeks, I’ve probably done more loads of laundry than in the previous three years combined. Why? We have a baby now, and we’re using cloth diapers.

As with many areas of life, the choice often comes down to “put something in a landfill” versus “use some water.” Having a well and a septic system rather than city water, I feel that water is a resource I can use without too much guilt, since it does return to the ground and re-enter the cycle. This may be irrational, and the spike in our usage since our daughter was born certainly throws the dilemma into relief. With this kind of volume, the stakes are higher.


The new mascot of our household: a basket full of diapers.

Part of the problem is the specific diapers we’re using. For one thing, their washing instructions are a little crazy: wash once on cold, then once on hot (with an extra rinse!). For another, they will NOT dry on the line—believe me, I tried. They’re so bulky that even a full day, in full sun, will leave them damp. So every load means 100 minutes of dryer usage on top of the two wash cycles.

Finally, they are expensive. Therefore, we only have 14 of them; therefore, we wash the whole bunch about once a day. It starts to make biodegradeable paper diapers look pretty good.

I’m afraid this all stems from lack of research on my part. Someone recommended BumGenius to me, and I followed her suggestion. Except I went for the organic cotton diapers instead of the regular ones. And the organic are the ones with the bulky design and the double-wash requirement. A classic case of irresponsible green consumerism! Guilty as charged.

We’re plotting a new strategy and I’ll keep you posted. Daily laundering is not OK for the planet or my schedule.