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Monday, September 24, 2012

Cloth Diapering 101- Washing Basics

             Cloth Diapering 101

Cloth Diapering 101- My take on modern cloth diapers

Washing Cloth Diapers- Basics

Many people are instantly turned off to the idea of cloth diapering for one major reason-- the thought of washing poopy diapers seems like so much more work than just tossing them in the trash. I could get on my environmental soapbox here, but I'll save that for another post. If you can't get over the poop factor, cloth diapering is probably not for you. But for the brave....

I do about 3 extra loads of laundry a week. Not too bad in my opinion. Our water bill increased about $4 per month. No significant change in our electric. We have a basic model toploading washer. First I will share our personal routine. 

  •  Before the Wash- Remove as much solid waste from the diaper as you can. This is as far as I go- I do not dunk and swish the diaper in the toilet. If your child is exclusively breastfed, you can just toss the diaper into the pail. Their poo is water soluble!
  • Cold Rinse {highest water level}- This is a crucial step in our wash routine. The cold rinse cycle removes the yuckies without setting in stains that a hot rinse might. It also swishes the #1 and #2 deposits out of the diapers. Without an initial rinse, you would be washing your diapers in soapy poop water. Yuck! If we are blessed with an especially poopy load I will run a full cold wash/cold rinse cycle.
  • Hot Wash {highest water level}- Most machines can do a hot wash (If yours can't, don't stress! Cold water washing works well for many cloth diapering parents.) I put our machine on the longest cycle available- aka the superwash. I use powdered Tide detergent. I use an appropriate amount of soap for the size diaper load. If after this load, I can still smell stinkies, I will repeat this step with about 1/4 amount of the initial detergent and 3-4 drops of Tea Tree Oil.
  • Quick Wash {highest water level}- Finally, I run the shortest wash possible. I find the temperature here doesn't matter. This is just to remove any soap residue.
  • Drying- I tumble dry on low temperature. It usually takes two runs in the dryer for us. I hang dry any diaper covers with PUL only. This extends the life of the covers. If the weather is nice, I will hang my diapers on a drying rack outside to dry, then fluff in the dryer.

Some tips and tricks:

  • Wash all new diapers before use. This removes any manufacturing residue. Diapers made with natural fibers such as cotton, bamboo, or hemp take up to 10 washes to reach maximum absorbency 

  • Avoid the use of traditional diaper rash creams, as these get into the fibers of the diaper and can cause the diaper to repel urine and cause leaks. Our favorite treatment for the occasional rash is Unrefined Coconut Oil.

  • DO NOT use the sanitize cycle on your HE machine to wash diapers. The temperatures can delaminate PUL.

  • Many people add baking soda or vinegar depending on their water type.

  • If you have diapers with embroidery, wash and dry them inside out to protect the embellishment from snags, especially on diapers made with hook and loop (aka velcro).

Do you have any further questions or comments about washing your cloth? Please feel free to comment here or email me at


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