Friday, July 12, 2013

My Cloth Diaper Wash Routine (How-To)

When first starting out with cloth diapers, it can be confusing.

The biggest question I had was : 
"How the heck do I wash these things?"

There are many different ways to wash cloth diapers. Different manufacturers have different requirements.

For example, my diaper covers cannot be washed on hot.... and the instructions say no bleach ( I wouldn't use bleach anyway, it's very toxic).

Other reasons for different types of washing routines is the water. Some people have well water, others city water, hard water, soft water, etc.

Laundry soap is also another factor.

My goal in writing this is to show you how I wash my cloth diapers, and hopefully help you in the process of figuring out your wash routine. 

I live in an apartment and have a mini washer of my own. It works just as great ( if not better) than some regular size washers! I can wash a full load of diapers every other day in it with no problem .

My wash routine took 2 months to establish. I went through trial and error to establish it. Through that trial and error, I only had  to strip my diapers twice. Partly because Baby A also had a diaper rash and the cream wanted to build up ( had zinc oxide in it).

However, since that time I have not had to strip my diapers at all. Once my wash routine was established, I have had no issues with the diapers absorbancy!

The key to washing cloth diapers is "Rinse Rinse Rinse" in other words... LOTS of water.

Here is my cloth diaper wash routine:

1. I wash my cloth diaper covers first. They are separate as they cannot be washed on HOT. 
2. I separate out my covers and put them in the machine on COLD. They go on HEAVY wash & HIGH water which is the heaviest setting on my machine. I add in 2-3 drops of tea tree and/or lavender oil. I also add in 3/4 manufacturer's recommended amount of laundry soap.
3. Once the 1st wash is done, I add a rinse cycle. The covers are done.

*Before washing covers I use a diaper sprayer to spray out the poopy ones.

Now that the covers are clean, I go to the diaper pail and pull out the inserts & prefolds.
I have hemp. microfiber, and bamboo. I wash them all together the same with no issues. 
These can go on hot :)
*provided it follows manufacturer directions, otherwise don't use hot water.

1. I spray out any diapers that  have poop ( Baby A poops 4 times a day, and always poops right before diaper laundry....always)

2. I put the washer on WARM/COLD, HEAVY, HIGH water setting. I add in 2-3 drops of tea tree oil.
This is considered my pre-rinse cycle. A rinse was not enough for Baby A as she is a heavy wetter. She pees A LOT, so this is better than standing there and spraying pee out of each and every diaper ( who has time for that?!) I add in diapers.

3. When the 1st cycle is done, I come back and move the water temperature to HOT (allowed by my diaper manufacturer), HEAVY wash cycle, HIGH water setting. I add in 1 scoop of Borax ( I use an old protein scoop that is 21 g...just short of 1 ounce), I have found this amount is perfect for Baby A's diapers.

 I add in Sun Free & Clear detergent. I have used this with no problems at all!

4. Once this wash is done. I do another cycle COLD, HEAVY wash cycle, HIGH water setting. This is my final rinse setting. Instead of running a bunch of rinses, I find this most effective. I don't add anything to this cycle. Just water ;) 

 5. I hang my covers and inserts to dry on a drying rack. I don't ever put them through the dryer. I sun them through our sliding glass door which helps to sanitize and get out stains.

 Every once in a while for extra cleaning power I change up the insert routine.

1.      I put the Borax in the first cycle with the tea tree oil/lavender oil.
2.      2nd cycle I add in soap &  ½ cup hydrogen peroxide.
3.      3rd cycle stays the same.                                             

I like to use this second routine on days where it is not sunny and the diapers could use the disinfecting power of the peroxide.

I haven’t had to strip my diapers with my wash routine. The diapers come out clean every time. I have softer city water. I think if I had hard water I would only have to change up the soap I use as some people have mentioned to me that powder is better than liquid when you don’t have good “diaper water”.

My routine can take up to 3 hours. I don’t mind because I don’t have to strip my diapers like some people I know have to do.

One key when washing cloth diapers : 
Make sure they smell like nothing when you hang them up to dry. If they smell like soap or anything....rinse some more. If they still smell like pee or poo, then you need to use more soap.

Another Note:
I wash my cloth wipes right in with my prefolds and inserts! I simply use baby wash cloths as cloth wipes.

Check out my cloth wipes recipe here.

What is your cloth diaper routine? What soap do you use? Do you sun your diapers?

I would love to hear your routine!

As always, be sure to follow manufacturer washing instructions, do not void the warranty on your diapers. These are only things that have worked for me, you have to find what works for you.

You saw this post first on  ReInventing Lolli : My Cloth Diaper Wash Routine (How-To).


  1. Great tips and very true rinse, rinse, rinse! Also, I think I will try to add some oils to my cloth diaper wash!

    1. Glad you liked it! I love the tea tree and lavender oil, just a couple drops does the trick!

  2. I enjoyed seeing your routine; I don't know anyone else with a mini-washer!

    1. So glad you liked the post! I really haven't run into any problems with the mini washer! I do have to do diapers every other day though or its too diapers. If I went 3 days then I would have to split into 2 batches.