Cloth Diapering and Water Temperature

One of the biggest problems with cloth diaper laundering is that people don’t have their hot water heater set high enough. Water heaters leave the factory set anywhere from 140 to 150 degrees Fahrenheit.  That’s just too hot. (It takes two seconds for a child to receive a third degree burn at this setting) In an attempt to save on energy costs or for safety’s sake, many people (or landlords) will turn the hot water heater down to 120 degrees. That’s just too cold. (You won’t kill enough germs at that temperature.)

So, you set it in the middle. Your hot water heater should be set at 130 degrees if you are laundering cloth diapers. It will kill germs and yet it’s a safe enough setting for your baby. At 130 degrees, it takes 30 seconds to seriously burn your child’s skin. That’s plenty of time for them to cry and for you to remove them from the water if by some chance you didn’t test the water before sticking them in. For the toddler playing with the faucet, it’s also more than enough time for your child to pull their hand away from the hot running water.

So, what I want you to do is go and check out your hot water heater and see if it’s at the right setting. Now, there’s no need to ask for help with this. I’m going to tell you how to check.

Most hot water heaters look about the same. In figures A and B, you see my hot water heater. (Pay no attention to the dust and grime on it, I merely put it there so you didn’t feel bad if yours wasn’t as clean as mine normally is.) Figure A is the hot water heater. It could be in your laundry room or your basement or even in a room set aside just for big appliances. It should be near your furnace though. Anyway, it should resemble Figure A.

In Figure B, you will see a close up of the temperature valve. I was please when my husband explained I can turn this knob and I won’t start a fire or cause it to explode or anything, so you should be too.

OK, so all you do is turn that knob to the middle setting. It could be labeled “Medium” it could also have and actual temperature setting, which would make life way easier. If it’s not set at this setting, just switch it over. You don’t have to shut it off first. You don’t have to use any tools. You just turn the knob. Your hot water heater could also look like this in which case, you can take a moment and be proud of your fancy water heater and then just go ahead and set the temperature to 130 degrees.

And then, you wait like a half hour and your water will be set to the proper temperature.  That’s it. Once you’ve done it, you can call your best friend and pretend like it was a far more complicated procedure, just be sure to leave out all the simple details.

One comment

  1. Julia

    thank you so much for spreading the word! i have heard from numerous people they choose to disposable diaper because they are “afraid of bacteria” or “spreading germs through the washing machine” so now I can explain yet another reason its not a problem

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