Washing Cloth Diapers
Cloth Diaper Washing Recommendations
Prepping New Cloth Diapers
If you are buying new cloth diapers they will typically need to be prepped in order to reach their full absorbency potential. Most diapers will require an average of 3 hot washing cycles with detergent and tumble in the dryer to become fully prepped and ready to absorb.
Depending on the diapering fabric used and the amount of processing undergone, some diaper fabrics or brands may require up to 8-10 washes to reach their FULL absorbency potential. Refer to your specific manufacturer's instructions if you are curious about their prepping protocol and warranty information.
Keep in mind if you are using new diapers on your baby and are experiencing leaks a common issue is that they were not fully prepped.
Basic Cloth Diaper Washing Instructions
As you browse through our shop or talk with friends, you will quickly find that everyone has a different system for washing cloth diapers. We have washed thousands of loads of cloth diapers over the years and have had positive results and long lasting diapers when following the recommendations below.
What to do with a soiled cloth diaper
- Remove solids by shaking them into the toilet, using a diaper sprayer when necessary.
- Store diapers in a dry pail.
- Place diapers, wipes, pail liner and wet bags in machine and start a cold rinse
- Set the machine to run a hot wash cycle which includes the rinse at the end.
- Place the entire load in the dryer and dry on low to medium heat or air dry on a line or drying rack. Refer to your manufacturers instructions and warranty for specifics for your newly purchased diapers. Dry in sun to assist with stain removal.
- Fold and stack your diaper in preparation for use
General Laundering Tips
★ For a standard size washing machine we recommend washing no more than about 20 diapers at a time. You may be able to do more or less depending on your diapers, machine and level of soil though.
★ Like towels and t-shirts, diapers become more absorbent over time. This is especially true for cotton fleece and unbleached fabrics, which require some initial prepping in the washing machine.
★ Line drying will significantly reduce the wear and tear on your diapers and extend their useful life.
Washing Tips for Keeping Your Cloth Diapers Clean and In Great Shape
We love to recommend the SUDS acronym and method of ensuring your diapers are clean and last through multiple kids.
Simple Washing Routine - Pre-Rinse, Long Full Wash Cycle + Detergent is a great starting wash cycle for cloth diapers and should be sufficient for the majority of those who are washing their own cloth diapers at home.
One way to cut down on the work your machine does is to purchase a diaper sprayer and spray your diaper (all diapers or just the poopy ones) or use biodegradable diaper liners to keep solid waste from sitting directly on the absorbent fibers on your diaper.
Use enough detergent - Pick the detergent that works for your needs but make sure to use enough depending on how many diapers you are washing and how dirty they are! Some of our favorite brands of detergents to start with for baby's sensitive skin are Seventh Generation Unscented, Tide Free & Gentle, and Ecos unscented.
Duration of Washing - All of the other variables can be right but if your diapers don't have enough time in the cycle they won't get fully clean. Select the longest wash cycle that your machine offers for the maximum efficiency in washing.
Skip the Additives - there are numerous suggestions for additives you could use for softening water, rinsing aids and more. Skip those and stick to the basics above. Many additives like Borax and Washing Soda are water softeners which is great if you have hard water but are harsh and tend to wear down elastics and waterproofing materials much faster than any commercially available detergent products.
Edit Your Routine and Stripping Cloth Diapers
Sometimes your variables change (washing machine, detergents, baby's diet, water type, etc) and if you have a good routine that cleans your diapers with out smelling you will easily be able to edit your routine should any of your variables change.
If your diapers are starting to stink or leak when they were not before, Mighty Bubbles Laundry Treatment is an amazing product that will easily get your diapers towels or other laundry back to a clean starting point.
After Mighty Bubbles Laundry Treatments be sure to follow up with a good "SUDS" wash cycle with enough detergent, and long wash cycle, and no extra additives or ingredients to keep your diapers clean with out all the "stripping".
Yeast Rashes and Cloth Diapers
IF you have a yeast rash or if you are concerned about yeast, it is best to disinfect all of your diapers with about a 1/4 cups of bleach per load and a good sun dry to kill the yeast. Yeast bacteria can live and harbor in the fibers of any cloth and reintroduce yeast diaper rashes if you use a clean cloth diaper that has been used on a child with a yeast rash.
Be sure to let the rash clear completely (could take a week or more) and support your baby's gut flora (good stomach bugs) to help minimize the length and severity of yeast rash occurrences. Yeast overgrowth is common after illnesses and antibiotics and live on sugars found in foods we eat.