How Do I Wash Cloth Diapers?
After you rinse and store your used cloth diapers, it is time to get busy with your cloth diaper wash.
To get cloth diapers very clean, there are several washing steps that should be followed.
1. Load cloth diapers into the washing machine. We recommend that you wash every other day as this frequency provides the perfect "one load" size.
An abundance of cloth diapers in a single load could also increase pilling of the fabrics. Be sure all the diapers are open and that any Velcro fasteners are closed. Also be sure the pockets and inserts are removed.
2. Run a prewash or rinse cycle. The water for this load should be Cold to help lift stains.
No Prewash Cycle? NO PROBLEM! Set up your wash load as normal, but bypass the wash setting and go to the rinse setting BEFORE turning your washer on. Although the cycle may not be as long as a standard pre-wash, it will at least give your cloth diapers that initial rinse off. If you have a top loader, you can always lift the lid on your machine to stop the agitation and allow for a pre-rinse period.
3. After the first prewash or rinse, it is time to wash. Use a Hot wash with a Cold rinse for this cycle. If using a commercial detergent we recommend that you fill the powder scoop or liquid cap that is provided with your detergent to the #1 mark. (assuming "one load" of diapers)
If using a detergent that has been specifically formulated for cloth diapers, refer to manufacturer packaging to determine how much to use.
There are a variety of commercial laundry detergents that can clean your diapers effectively. We recommend Tide (original or ultra), Tide Free & Gentle, and Purex Free & Clear as we (and many of our customers) have positive results with them.
If you would like a detergent that is less commercial and a bit gentler on our earth, we sell and recommend the following brands of cloth diaper detergents. All are free of phosphates, dyes, enzymes, brighteners, fabric softeners and harsh chemicals. All will work with High Efficiency (HE) washing machines.
- bumGenius! Cloth Diaper Detergent - Blended specifically for High Efficiency (HE) washing machines, this detergent was developed in partnership with Country Save, a low-sudsing detergent formulated to work in hard or soft water areas.
- Country Save Powdered Laundry Detergent - Biodegradable and completely soluble, Country Save is a low-sudsing detergent formulated to work in hard or soft water areas.
- Eco Sprout Soap Cloth Diaper Detergent - Eco Sprout Soap (not technically a soap) is formulated for either hard or soft water areas. Eco Sprout does have all-natural scents available, but comes in an unscented version as well. A vegan and green detergent, Eco Sprout is free of enzymes, and fillers.
- GroVia Tiny Bubbles Cloth Diaper Detergent - Developed in partnership with The Design for the Environment Program, Tiny Bubbles is completely biodegradable, ultra-concentrated and developed without animal testing nor does it include any animal by-products.
- Rockin' Green Cloth Diaper Detergent - Available in three different versions (Soft Rock, Classic Rock, and Hard Rock) Rockin' Green can be used in either hard or soft water areas. Rockin' Green does have all-natural scents available, but comes in an unscented version as well. A VEGAN and GREEN detergent, Rockin' Green is also free of enzymes and fillers.
Remember, DO NOT USE FABRIC SOFTENERS on your cloth diapers! Fabric Softeners clog the fibers of the cloth diapers and reduce the cloth diaper's ability to absorb, rendering the cloth diaper ineffective.
4. Optional Rinse. When your baby's cloth diapers have completed the hot wash cycle, you may find the need for or want an additional rinse; we find this to be more true with commercial detergents that tend to be high-sudsing and high-residue.
When the cloth diaper wash cycle is done, it is time for a careful determination using your most sensitive organ - your nose. Open the washing machine lid and take a big whiff. Are things nice and clean? Great! If your laundry doesn't smell perfect yet, rinse it again using a Hot wash and Cold rinse. If you find that this is recurring situation, you may want to change your detergent and/or the amount used.
5. Drying. Once the diapers are truly fresh and ready, remove them to the dryer for a tumble dry on low to medium heat or hang dry. Whether you tumble dry or hang dry your cloth diapers and diaper covers is a personal preference, however, research and years of experience has shown us that hang drying cloth diapers tend to have less wear and tear and a longer lifespan. If you want or need to dry in the dryer, we recommend drying on a low heat and only for as long as they need to dry. Avoid over drying.
Prefold diapers are the exception to this as they like to be "fluffed" - Prefold diapers are durable enough where you may dry on a high heat in order to get the fluffy results without much consequence.
A note on Oxygen Bleach and other Additives While not necessary, using oxygen bleach on occasion is fine. It helps to whiten, reduce stains, sanitize and fight odors. With a good wash routine, additives such as oxygen bleach, baking soda or vinegar are generally not necessary in your cloth diaper wash.
Washing cloth diapers is not the burden you may think, especially if you've taken care to rinse and store your used cloth diapers as suggested.
Disclaimer - Although we recommend the use of detergents such as Tide, Purex, and Gain these products contain optical brightners as well as enzymes. The use of the additives could void the warranty of your diaper(s). Please check the manufacturer warranty guidelines before using these products.