These recommendations are to be used after your new diapers have been prepped. More info on prepping guidelines can be found HERE. Prepping your new cloth diapers is a very important step because it ensures the inserts have reached maximum absorbency before use.
Attention all cloth newbies: POOP DOES NOT BELONG IN YOUR WASHING MACHINE! It doesn’t belong in the trash either, which is why cloth diapering is a stellar way to make sure poop ends up where it belongs: in the toilet.
So, how do you wash cloth diapers?
The simple way to put it is this: poop goes in the toilet (always), diaper goes in the pail liner or wet bag, pail liner/wetbag gets turned inside out over the washer and tossed in, a rinse cycle rinses out any urine in the diapers, a warm water wash cycle with detergent washes the diapers, and the final rinse cycle(s) rinse out and wash away any detergent and remaining yuckies. The end. If you think it needs to be more complicated than that, then you might want to rethink things.
General Use Guidelines:
• Shake solids into toilet. (Use a disposable liner or a reusable fleece liner to facilitate this.)
• If needed, spray any remaining solids off with a diaper sprayer. (Don’t forget to use your Spray Pal! No muss, no fuss!)
• Important: Unsnap inserts from shell.
• Remove pocket insert(s). (*Optional: most inserts will agitate out during the wash cycle.)
• Place diaper in dry pail with pail liner or in a large hanging wetbag .
• Once you are ready to wash, start with a cold/warm prewash/rinse or just a short wash. This is to remove urine and any remaining solids and to prevent staining. (*If you are using a front loading washer, choose the delicate cycle to allow the washer to add the most amount of water possible. Check your washer’s manual to determine if this is the cycle that uses the most water for your specific machine. You want the cycle that runs the longest with the most amount of water to allow for proper agitation and rinsing.)
• Follow with a wash cycle on warm with a cold rinse (water temperature cannot exceed 120 degrees F or 50 degrees C) and the recommended amount of detergent (see Detergent Recommendations below).
• Finish with an extra rinse on cold. (Most washers have this option that you can select when you start the wash cycle so that the extra rinse begins right after the wash/rinse cycle completes.)
• Hang dry covers/shells on a drying rack or clothes line. Inserts can be tumble dried on low or medium.
• Snap inserts into shells or stuff inserts into pockets of shells to prep the diapers for baby’s use. Be sure to fold your inserts in the way that best provides absorbency where your baby most needs it. If you choose to dry your shells on low/extra low in the dryer, be sure that you DO NOT stuff shells that are still warm from the dryer. Wait until they cool before stuffing them, else you risk unnecessary stretching and potential damage/wear of the shells. Also, be sure to avoid wearing rings when stuffing diapers to prevent tears/snags. For more helpful tips on reducing wear and tear, check out last week’s blog post!
Other Care Recommendations:
• DO NOT USE FABRIC SOFTENER ON DIAPERS.
• Bleach is only recommended when treating yeast or mold in diapers or to disinfect previously owned cloth diapers. Doing a “bleach soak” is never recommended. When bleach is needed, we recommend starting with clean diapers and using 1/4 cup in the wash cycle followed by lots of rinses (until you can no longer smell the bleach). Bleach does not remove detergent or hard water or ammonia build-up; the only thing it removes is bacteria and the fabric fibers, eating away at the cloth and causing balding, holes, and weakening in the fabrics of the diaper.
• The use of wool dryer balls is highly recommended; they can help speed drying time and fluff up/soften your inserts naturally.
• If you have stains, after washing, place diapers in sunlight. This will help naturally bleach out the stains. Not only does it whiten, it sanitizes!
• There is no need to routinely strip your diapers. If you have a solid wash routine and an effective detergent, you shouldn’t be running into issues at all. There are a lot of “strip happy” recommendations out there, and some of the preached recipes for stripping are in NO way recommended by any cloth diaper company because of the damage it will cause to the materials. If you are running into problems constantly, you should be looking at your wash routine first and foremost, not stripping all the time. If you do need to hit the “reset” button on your diapers, our customers recommend an ammonia bouncer like Funk Rock, a laundry refresher like RLR, or Grovia’s Mighty Bubbles, which removes mineral build up from hard water, ammonia build up, and detergent build up. Follow instructions on the packages of these items if you choose to use one of them.
This list is compiled based on feedback from our customers. We are not detergent experts. This list is not definitive and is intended purely as a general guideline. Since ingredients for detergents are not always readily available, we erred on the side of caution and chose to not include certain detergents on this list.
TIP: Use the amount of detergent that is recommended by the detergent brand you are using. Aim for detergents with the least amount of additives. If you have hard water and no water softener in your home, many customers have found success with using Calgon water softener (liquid or powder) along side their detergent to combat the minerals in their hard water.
Econuts (liquid) (This blogger’s personal favorite.)
Allen’s Natural (liquid and powder)
Eco’s Free and Clear (some report residue in hard water)
Gain (contains brighteners, scent and dye)
Tide Free (contains brighteners)
Tide (contains brighteners, scent and dye)
*** Disclosure: Lalabye Baby takes no responsibility in the washing of your diapers. This is a recommend list of detergents compiled from our customers. Not following care guidelines, including high water or dryer temperatures, and/or the use or overuse of non-recommended chemicals like bleach, borax, oxygen-bleach, etc. voids the limited warranty on your diapers and will cause premature wear and tear.
As usual, if you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to email us!
16 thoughts on “How Do You Wash Cloth Diapers?”
Very helpful post! 🙂
USEFUL washing tips. That’s the hardest part is finding a good routine.
I haven’t had a baby in cloth diapers in 3 years and am due with my fourth in 3 weeks. I have forgot a lot about how to wash and care for my diapers since my last child. Reading this has definitely answered all my questions. Thank you so much! 🙂
Love this post! I learned a few new things. Thanks 🙂