A fewthings worth mentioning before we get to the washing...
Always use the highest water level setting that your washer allows. Water is your friend when cleaning diapers!
Use a laundry detergent that is free of dyes, perfumes, enzymes, brighteners, bleach and softeners. Laundry additives may prematurely break down elastic, hook & loop and waterproof material. Follow diaper manufacturer recommendations when considering these. (Recommended detergents: Country Save, Tide Original or Arm & Hammer Sensitive Skin)
DO NOT use Dreft or Fabric Softeners - they will coat cloth diapers and decrease absorbency.
Each diaper manufacturer has its own guidelines for care and use, including detergent recommendations. Please check with your manufacturer to avoid problems with warranties!
How do I wash my cloth diapers?
Cold water rinse/wash with no detergent. This will rinse out any urine and solid residue.
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.
Do a second cold or warm rinse and you can optionally add 3-4 drops of Lavender Essential Oil (this is a natural antiseptic).
Toss in the dryer on tumble/low - adding a dry towel or wool dryer balls can lessen the dry time. Covers and pocket diaper outers should be hung to dry.
Dump any solids (use flushable liners to make it even easier!) or spray with a diaper sprayer before putting in pail or wetbag. 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.
Wash at least every 2-3 days for optimal stain removal.
Add a wet towel to your HE washer to "trick" it into adding more water.
Sunlight gets stains out and sterilizes cloth diapers. (Do this periodically when time and weather allow.)
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!).
Natural materials (cotton, hemp. etc.) need to be washed and dried 4-5 times to prep them to become fully absorbent.
Synthetic materials (microfiber and covers) only need to be washed once before use.
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.
Run several hot washes without any detergent
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
Use a soft toothbrush and some dish soap to gently scrub the diaper
**Always check with your diaper's manufacturer first so that you don't risk voiding any warranties!**
My diapers stink, but don't repel!
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 diapers stink, and they're also repelling and leaking!
You may have some buildupfrom minerals, creams or laundry additives. First do a deep cleaning of your diapers. Start with clean diapers and run several hot washes without 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.
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.
How can I remove or prevent stains on my diapers?
The best way to remove stains already on diapers is to lay them in the sun when they are still wet out of the washer. If weather is not conducive to drying outside, laying them in a sunny window will also help. To prevent stains you can use a liner on your diapers or spray off solid matter as soon as possible. Starting your wash routine with a cold rinse/wash will also help to prevent stains.
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.
Can I use OxyClean,bleach, vinegar, baking soda, fabric softener, dryer sheets, calgon, etc on my cloth diapers?
Generally, no, we do not suggest using any of those additives. Please check with your cloth diaper's manufacturer as some allow the use of bleach or OxyClean on some parts of the diapers.