Washing Diapers

Posted by Kim Leo on

Wash Routine Cloth diapers should be washed every 2-3 days to avoid smells and bacteria growth. Always start with a simple routine and tweak as necessary.

  1. Set water level to 1 higher than you would normally use for same size load of clothing. Front Loader / HE Machine Tip: Add small towels or burp cloths to the wash to help trick the machine to fill washer a bit higher.
  2. Warm rinse cycle to remove as much waste as possible. Stains go on to diapers warm so they will come out of diapers best at the same temperature. Front Loader / HE Machine Tip: Set the spin speed to 'very low' or 'no spin'. This “fools” the washer by making the load heavier, hence will add more water, which is essential for a good cleaning of cloth diapers.
  3. Hot wash with a clean rinsing detergent. Front Loader / HE Machine Tip: Leave machine with the spin speed at 'very low' or 'no spin'.
  4. Warm rinse to ensure all of the detergent is out of the diaper. This will prevent detergent build up which will cause leaks, smells and diaper rash. Front Loader / HE Machine Tip: Set machine back to normal spin so diapers will take less time to dry.
  5. Hang dry your diaper covers and toss the pads into the dryer on medium to high heat. I find that drying them with an additional load of laundry helps them to dry faster.

Cloth Diaper Laundry as In general you want to keep it simple.warm, hot, warm, detergent rinse out completely. agitation, water, soap, time makes water wetter WATCH Washing Formula

Watch Formula for Diapers

 To wash diapers you need 5 components. If you decrease one component you need to increase the rest of the components. (Provided by the Real Diaper Association)

  1. Water: Water is what does most of your washing. It plays a huge role in cleaning cotton and hemp.
  2. Action: This is agitation in your machine. Either rubbing together in a top loader or the falling in a front loader.
  3. Time: Length of cycles (and/or soaking) affects cleaning.
  4. Chemicals: Detergent. Especially necessary in cleaning synthetic materials which are prone to holding onto the oils and fats in human waste.
  5. Heat: Helps other components do their jobs.

Detergent Before you actually get to washing your diapers you need to pick a detergent. In general you want to get a detergent which are free from:

  • Scents
  • Brighteners
  • Fabric Softeners
  • Stain Guard
  • Oils
  • Dyes

These all get left behind on your diapers and lead to leaks and stinks.


  • Enzymes: Enzymes attack biological matter such as poop, pee and blood, which is what makes it a great laundry additive and stain remover. Most diaper companies tell you to avoid them while others swear by them.
            The Real Deal: Enzymes do a fantastic job cleaning your diapers as they attack waste and remove it. The problem comes from if the enzymes do not wash completely out of the diapers and they attack waste on your baby's bottom which can result in rashes. As long as you completely rinse it out of your diapers you should not have a problem.
  • Chlorine Bleach: Known for being fantastic disinfectant and whitening agent. The problem is that it is not environmentally friendly and just about all diaper companies say to avoid them.

               The Real Deal:

  • Oxygen Bleach
  • Vinegar
  • Baking Soda

Hard and Soft Water  

Tips and Tricks: Always refer to manufacturers care instructions

*Try adding baking soda to the wash cycle to help remove odors.

*Try adding vinegar to the final rinse cycle to restore pH from baking soda wash, to soften cloth diapers and to help remove odors.

*When your diapers seem a bit dingy try using some oxygen bleach (oxy-clean). After your normal wash fill your washing machine with hot water and add 2-3 scoops of oxygen bleach. Let agitate then let the diapers sit for 4-6 hours (or overnight). Finish the wash cycle, do a final rinse. Your diapers should look and smell like new.

*Inserts (no elastic, no PUL or TPU) can be washed hotter than 130 degrees F.

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