Washing diapers is similar to washing any clothes.
It's important that you are using enough detergent to get them clean but no so much you are leaving a residue. If you are like me an live in an area where you have hard water this makes it even more challenging.
I love Fluff Love University! It's a great resource no matter if you are handwashing or using a washer and dryer. When I first started using cloth diapers there were so many places on the web saying to add extra rinses, just a teaspoon of detergent and everyone had their own homemade concoction that "worked." The scientist in me questioned this often...but I was sure these ladies knew what they were talking about...they had been doing it for years. I found that just because it works for them doesn't mean it works for me.
So what have I been doing this week?
I washed in the sink using a make shift wash board on Monday & Tuesday. But honestly that made my back ache and seemed to waste a lot of water. So halfway through the week I changed. I grabbed a 5 gallon bucket (we only have 1,000) and washed it out really well. Bought a new plunger and some Foca detergent. I keep borax at home.
I used our cordless drill to drill a hole in the top of the bucket just big enough for the plunger handle to fit through. I also drilled holes in the plunger itself.
Cold Rinse- place bucket in bathtub and dump in diapers and covers (fill the bucket 1/2-3/4 full) add cold water until about an 1 inch below the top of the bucket. Plunge the diapers 50-100 times wait 5 minutes and plunge again. Remove diapers from bucket, set aside. Dump water.
Hot Wash #1- add hot water (about 1") then add 2 TBSP detergent, 1 TBSP Borax swish it around to dissolve. Plunge the diapers 50-100 times wait 10 minutes and plunge again. Remove diapers from bucket, set aside and dump water.
Hot Wash #2: Repeat hot wash #1 but this time as you remove the diapers from the bucket wring them out well. We do an assembly line (if the boys are "helping"). The little one grabs a diaper or cover and gives it to our oldest who "wrings" it out and then he passes it to me and I actually make water come out of the diaper. Yes including them takes longer but they enjoy helping.
Dump water and rinse the bucket well.
Cold Rinse- place diapers back in bucket and fill again until it's 1" below the top. Plunge 50-100 times wait 5 minutes and plunge again. Remove diapers/covers and wring out thoroughly. At this point I put the wet diapers into a laundry basket so I can carry them to our porch to hang to dry.
From start to finish it takes about an hour. I will say there are days that ours sit a little longer than the 5-10 minutes or get more/less plunging than others. It all evens out. If I am at home I will fill the bucket up about 1/2 way with cold water after the mornings first diaper change and drop the flats into the bucket as I got throughout the day. This seems to work well for us however this only happens about once a week so I am sure the diapers could use a soak.
I adapted my routine from Fluff Love U. Here's a link to their instructions which includes a video.