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. Avoid placing more than 18 cloth diapers in a single load; too many diapers will not allow diapers to agitate freely and get thoroughly cleansed.
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.
3. 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. PLEASE BE ATTENTIVE OF YOUNG CHILDREN if you leave a lid open on a washing machine. Many a climbing Toddler might be interested in what's inside!
4. After the first prewash or rinse, it is time to wash. Use a Hot wash with a Cold rinse for this cycle. Add in about 1/4 of the amount of detergent you would normally use to avoid detergent build up, and let her rip.
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.
5. 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!
6. If your laundry doesn't smell perfect yet, rinse it again using a Hot wash and Cold rinse. There should be no baking soda, vinegar or detergent in this rinse.
7. Once the diapers are truly fresh and ready, remove them to the dryer for a tumble dry on low to medium heat or take them outside for a line-dry in the sun. (If you plan to line-dry, double-hanging your cloth diapers to allow for a slower dry time will keep them from getting hard and crunchy.)
A Special Note on Vinegar
Though we understand that many cloth diapering sites encourage the use of vinegar for softening cloth diapers (when line-drying) and restoring pH balance, most of the manufacturers DO NOT recommend Vinegar.
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.