One of the daunting tasks to cloth diapering your child is cleaning cloth diapers. I was terrified that I would ruin all of the diapers by laundering them incorrectly. When I first started looking into cloth diapers I ran in the opposite direction because everything sounded so complicated when it came to how to launder them in such a way that you wouldn’t alter them. The fear of them leaking was daunting and I didn’t want to throw money out the window by ruining them before we got many wears out of them.
(You will find that everyone varies a little on how they clean cloth diapers. This is a guideline to follow; alter it as you see fit. You will want to create your own routine and clean your diapers in a way that is best fitted for your family. You might even notice that you need to make a few tweaks just because you have a different washing machine than I have.)
How to Clean Cloth Diapers
Picking a Laundry Detergent
I thought that this was going to be the biggest issue, but after a lot more research I have realized that it really isn’t as daunting of a task as I thought. I found this great resource on recommended laundry detergents that ecoAble wrote up. They have everything categorized so that you can find the type of detergent that you use at home and can see if it is included. If it isn’t on their list then you can find a comparable detergent that is sold in a store near you.
I was thankful to see that Tide Free & Gentle and Purex are safe detergents to use on cloth diapers because it is what we normally use for our clothes. If I were to purchase a detergent just for cloth diapers I think I would go with Seventh Generation as a detergent just for cloth diapers because I am willing to pay a little extra to keep my cloth diapers cleaner and as free from build-up as possible.
Basic Cloth Diaper Wash Routine
STEP 1: Soiled cloth diaper treatment
If you have a wet cloth diaper it can go straight to the diaper pail. Any solid waste should be knocked off of the diaper or sprayed into toilet. If you aren’t planning to wash that day you will want to minimize staining and mold growth by rinsing and wringing out the diaper thoroughly. Wash every 2-3 days.
STEP 2: Prewash
This step is needed for removing the surface soil from cloth diapers. The Prewash is a cycle on your washing machine that you run with no laundry detergent or if you are using a plant based detergent then minimal detergent in this cycle. You will also want to make sure that the water in the machine fills higher than the diapers so that they can agitate properly in the machine.
TIP: Hook-&-Loop cloth diapers may stick to other diapers and can damage them while in the wash. I would recommend placing them in a mesh bag in the machine. Place 4-5 diapers per bag into the wash. If the Hook & Loop diapers don’t come with covers for the hook portion I would purchase some or make your own out of velcro at home.
STEP 3: Main Wash
This step is needed to deep clean cloth diapers through all the layers of fiber. This cycle is the main cycle where you will want to add in your normal amount of laundry detergent for a cycle of laundry the size you are washing,
STEP 4: Dry
Tumble dry on low/medium heat or line dry. Only tumble dry on low or medium heat if recommended by the diaper company. Many companies don’t recommend it as it can cause issues with the PUL. I prefer putting my diapers on the line to dry and toss the inserts into the dryer on low to tumble dry.
TIP: Turn All-in-One Cloth Diapers inside out to speed up drying time
Is this how you get your cloth diapers clean? If not I would love to hear how you clean cloth diapers in the comments below. I am always open to learning new tips and tricks as well!