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Washing Cloth Diapers

How do I wash my cloth Diapers?

  • Step 1: Start with a cold water rinse/wash with no detergent. This will rinse out any urine and solid residue.
  • Step 2: Next perform a hot water wash cycle with detergent. Do NOT use the sanitary cycle and be sure your water heater is not set above 120 degrees as temperatures hotter than that can damage your cloth diapers.
  • Step 3: Now do second cold or warm rinse, optionally you can add 3-4 drops of Lavender Essential Oil a natural antiseptic.
  • Step 4: Toss in the dryer on tumble/low - Tip: adding a dry towel or wool dryer balls can lessen the dry time.  Cover and pocket diapers outers should be hung dry. 

Important Information before washing your cloth diapers

Each diaper manufacturer has its own guidelines for care and use, including detergent recommendations. Please check with your manufacturer to avoid problems with warranties! Always use the highest water level setting that your washer allows. Water is your friend when cleaning cloth diapers!

A few cloth diaper washing tips...

  • Dump any solids (use flushable liners to make it even easier!) or spray with a diaper sprayer before putting in dry pail, wet bag, or hanging wet bag. Breastfed newborn poop is water-soluble and can be put directly into the washer.
  • Attach hook & loop closures to laundry tabs before washing to prevent snagging.
  • Add a wet towel to your HE washer to "trick" it into adding more water.
  • Line/air drying diaper covers and pocket shells can help extend the life of the hook & loop closures as well as the elastic (bonus- saves energy!).

How many times do I need to wash my new diapers before using them?

Diapers containing synthetic fabrics only need to be washed once before using them on your baby! Any diapers with natural fibers such as hemp, bamboo, or cotton will need to be washed and dried 5-6 times before use to strip the natural oils and reach full absorbency.

How often should I wash the diapers?

We recommend washing your diapers every 1-3 day to help prevent any smell issues or staining.

What type of detergent should I use on my cloth diapers?

Every manufacturer has different washing directions and warranties for their diapers, including which detergents are allowed and recommended so always consult that information first.

The general rule of thumb is to use a detergent that is free of any additives, scents, bleach, and fabric softener. “Free and Clear” detergents are not recommended, as they often have additional cleaning agents in them that can cause buildup. We have had great success using Tide Original detergent.

How do I strip my cloth diapers?

There are a few methods that can be used, and we always recommend starting with the least severe.

  • First Try: Run several hot washes without any detergent
  • Then Try: Use a couple drops of Dawn blue dish soap to hand wash your diapers in your bathtub (instead of your regular detergent) and run extra rinses to get rid of any suds
  • Lastly Try: Use a soft toothbrush and some dish soap to gently scrub the diaper

How do I remove the poop stains from my cloth diapers?

Good news! With proper care, your diapers should have minimal staining. Some people prefer to use a liner to help prevent stains, but washing diapers every 1-3 days and removing solid waste before washing (if baby is not exclusively breastfed) works well to prevent stains.

The sun is also your best friend when it comes to stain fighting! After washing, simply lay or hang your clean, but still wet, diapers in the sun for a great whitening effect - a 100% natural bleach. :)

We DO NOT recommend using bleach, stain removers, borax, Bac-Out, Biokleen, or Oxy-Clean as they may damage your diapers.

I have an HE washer, what do I need to do differently?

With an HE washer the amount of water is limited to the weight of the laundry load. This often means that cloth diapers don't get the amount of water necessary to get clean, since they are so absorbent and soak up water that is meant to wash them! You can trick your machine into adding more water by adding a wet towel to your load. Make sure your washer is always set on the highest water setting as well and that you only use HE specific detergent.

My cloth diapers smell...what do I do?

It sounds like you may not be using enough detergent and you have urine buildup because your diapers are not getting clean. I would suggest adding more detergent and making sure your washer's water level is set to the highest setting. You may also find it helpful to start your wash routing with a quick cold wash to ensure all urine and solid matter is flushed out prior to your full wash with detergent.

My cloth diapers smell and they are leaking

You may have some buildup from minerals, creams or laundry additives. First do a deep cleaning of your diapers. Start with clean diapers and run several hot washes with 2x the amount of detergent you'd normally use. Follow with 2-3 hot wash cycles without detergent. We also do not suggest using any additives like fabric softeners, OxyClean, vinegar, or dryer sheets.

Help! My babysitter/grandma/mother-in-law/husband used diaper cream on my diapers!

The best way to remove diaper cream mishaps is to use a soft toothbrush and a pea-sized amount of dish soap to gently scrub it out with warm water. This will remove the majority of the cream, although some staining may occur depending on how much got on the diaper.

My natural fiber diapers are crunchy and scratchy.

Mineral or urine buildup can often cause diapers to become stiff and crunchy. If you have hard water, try adding a water softening agent like Calgon to your wash cycle. Check with your diaper manufacturer first. You may also need to increase the amount of detergent you are using. It is also possible that your diapers are crunchy from line or rack drying. Tumble dry your diapers for 10-15 minutes with a damp towel after removing them from the line or rack to "fluff" them.