How to Wash Cloth Diapers

Washing cloth diapers doesn’t have to be rocket science, but it will take some experimenting to find the right formula that works for your household.

The basics of the cloth diaper washing routine are rinse, wash, and keep rinsing until the suds are gone. You want to use as little detergent as possible with lots of water.

1. All in

Empty all the dirty/wet diapers into the washer, along with the wet bag or pail liner. I find it helpful to shake the inserts out of our pocket diapers at changes, so that it’s easier to dump everything into the wash quickly.

Washing Cloth Diapers

2. Rinse

Set your washer to rinse cycle (cold water is fine) with lots of water. I have a top-loader, so I set the size of the load to large. If you have an HE washer, I’ve heard that it’s helpful to toss in a towel with the diapers to get more water.

Rinse Cycle for Cloth Diapers

3. Detergent

Which detergent you use makes a huge difference in washing cloth diapers. Many detergents are not safe to use in washing cloth diapers because of added enzymes, brighteners and dyes. Check Diaper Jungle’s detergent chart to find a detergent that will work for you. You may try a few different kinds before landing on one that you love. I use Ecos Free & Clear, which is only $9 at Wal-Mart.

It is very important that you use very little detergent. If you are using a cloth-diaper specific brand of detergent, follow the directions. If you are using a store-bought brand like Ecos, the general rule is to use half. I use only 2 tbsp of Ecos per load, and that’s because we have hard water. If I had soft water, I would only use 1 tbsp. Also, I sprinkle in a little bit of baking soda to eliminate odors.

Cloth Diaper Detergent

4. Wash

Use hot water on the wash cycle.

How to Wash Cloth Diapers

5. Rinse, rinse, rinse

Rinse as many times as needed to ensure that all the suds are gone. You should see no soap bubbles at all. I usually only need to add a second rinse cycle to do the trick.

6. Dry

Hang diapers to dry on a drying rack. If you can put them outside in the sun, it will bleach out any stains. Inserts and wet bags can be hung to dry or tossed in the dryer on low heat. Never use dryer sheets, dryer bars or any type of softener with cloth diapers.

Cloth Diaper Drying Rack

I’d be happy to answer your questions about washing cloth diapers. Do you have a routine or tips that you’d like to share?

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2 thoughts on “How to Wash Cloth Diapers

  1. snikkimack says:

    I’ve heard that you can throw the entire diaper in the dryer. Is that frowned upon, or do certain brands advise hang drying? Seems like a pain to hang dry them all… but I’m quite lazy. 🙂

    • Cassie Dull says:

      Most brands advise hang drying. The heat from the dryer can deteriorate the PUL. In fact, I even have a couple bad spots on my pail liner because the metal zipper on my zippered wet bag melted it. It’s fine if you tumble dry occasionally but you really want to hang dry anything with PUL. Personally I think it’s no more work than the dryer.

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