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Wash Cloth Diapers - How to Wash Cloth Diapers

If you use cloth diapers on your baby eventually you'll have to wash them. Don't worry, you CAN have fresh, clean diapers with a minimum of effort! Washing cloth diapers requires a little more care than washing clothing, but it's easy once you find a routine and a detergent that work for you. To find your perfect routine, start with a couple of basic steps then try different variations to fit your circumstances, or whenever you want to try something different. Finally, browse our tips and tricks for more ways to make washing your cloth diapers easy!

Do you Know the Right Way to Wash Cloth Diapers?

If you ask one hundred families how to wash cloth diapers you'll probably get ninety-nine different answers. What works for one family may not work for another, so how do you know which routine is the right one? Actually, the only "right" way to wash diapers is what works for your family. Your laundering routine will depend on what kind of diapers you have, what kind of water you have, what kind of detergent you use, what kind of washing machine you have, and other variables.

To help you find a routine that works for you we've compiled a list of basic rules to get you started. Once you've mastered those you can experiment with some variations, and incorporate our tips and tricks too. Soon you'll be an expert and everyone will be asking YOU how to wash cloth diapers!

How to Wash Cloth Diapers - New Diapers

We know you're itching to get your new fluff washed and on your little one, but before you start up the washer take a moment to read these tips:

  • Try the diaper on your child before washing; use a wipe or other barrier to keep the diaper clean in case it doesn't fit.
  • Remove any construction marks with plain cool water - detergent or heat may set the marks.
  • Remove inserts from pocket diapers. Snap-in inserts and doublers don't need to be unsnapped.
  • Close embellished diapers like our applique diapers inside out to protect the embellishment.
  • Wash hand dyed diapers separately a few times, just to be safe. Don't let wet dyed diapers lie against other fabrics as the dye may transfer.

How to Wash Cloth Diapers - The Basics

These are the bare-bones basics; follow these rules and you'll have a good start in creating a washing routine that you'll love. Wash Cloth Diapers - Diaper

  • Remove as much solid matter as possible if your child is not exclusively breastfed.
  • Place soiled diapers in the diaper pail.
  • Wash every 2 or 3 days to avoid smells and excessive staining.
  • Start with a cold rinse.
  • Wash in hot water.
  • Use the highest water level your machine allows.
  • Use 1/4 the amount of detergent recommended by the manufacturer.
  • Rinse in the warmest water possible.
  • Do an extra final rinse.
  • Dry on warm or hot in the dryer* or hang outside for extra freshness and to bleach stains.
  • Do NOT use bleach or fabric softeners, including softener sheets.
*I've heard that Microfiber inserts will stay absorbent longer if line dried or dried on low, but since we don't use microfiber I can't say from personal experience.

How to Wash Cloth Diapers - Variations

Wash Cloth Diapers - Baking Soda and Vinegar

This is where it gets tricky, or fun, depending on your perspective. Start by trying one variation for a while and if that one doesn't work, try something else.

  • Add baking soda to the initial cold rinse to fight stains and odors.
  • Use 1/2 to 1 cup of white vinegar in the final rinse to soften your diapers and remove odors.
  • If you have hard water try adding a water softener to the wash cycle.
  • Try adding 1/2 C lemon juice to the wash cycle to help remove stains.
  • Bac-Out has been said to help eliminate odors and stains.
  • A couple of drops of Tea Tree Oil can be used in the final rinse to help with odors.
  • A sunny window will work as well as hanging outside if you can't hang your diapers outside.

Tips and Tricks for Washing Your Cloth Diapers

Finally, some hints to help you wash your cloth diapers with ease. If have a great tip or trick not listed here please let us know so we can add it.

  • Wash all new diapers before use.
  • Don't wash more than two dozen diapers at a time.
  • Hemp can be used after one wash but will become more absorbent through the first 8-10 washes. It may also shrink up to 10%
  • Avoid Desitin and other zinc oxide diaper creams as they will stain your diapers.
  • Fasten hook/loop closures to avoid the dreaded "diaper chain".
  • Use flushable diaper liners with zinc oxide rash cream, or to make it easier to get rid of solid matter.
  • Wash Cloth Diapers - Top Loading Machine
  • Don't allow dyed diapers to lie around wet or the dye may transfer to other diapers.
  • Fasten diapers and covers inside out so the insides get clean and to protect any applique or embroidery.
  • Avoid laundry "soaps" as they may leave a residue on your diapers. (Dreft and Ivory Snow are detergents and OK for diapers)
  • Avoid detergents with "brighteners" or "enzymes" as these will break down your diapers and may cause a rash.
  • Take a "sniff test" after washing. If your diapers smell like detergent do another hot rinse, or try stripping to get all the detergent out.
  • Use a Downey ball to dispense vinegar in your rinse cycle if you don't do an additional rinse.
  • Apply lemon juice to stains before sunning to help get rid of stains then rewash those diapers before use.
  • If your diapers are "crunchy" after drying outside toss them in the dryer on the fluff cycle for 10-15 minutes to soften them up.
  • Running an extra spin cycle will help your diapers - or any laundry - dry faster.

All things considered, it's just as easy to wash cloth diapers as it to do any other laundry. In fact we think it's easier to wash cloth diapers than our delicates - and with all the bright colors and prints on our diapers it's a lot more fun too!

More Information on How to Wash Cloth Diapers

Just like everything else, there's no one right way to wash diapers. Check out these links for more ideas about washing cloth diapers:

Happy Cloth Diapering!

Amy Sue

Amy S. Nogar - Owner Zany Zebra Designs, LLC
Cloth Diapering Expert and Advocate

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Wash Cloth Diapers - How to Wash Cloth Diapers

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