Learning to how wash cloth diapers is one of the most important factors in successful cloth diapering. Cloth diapers are different than clothing and require a special routine that is different from your regular laundry routine. When cloth diapers are washed properly, they will work properly. Although it may take some trial and error, it is important to start off on the right foot with washing to avoid frustration and disappointment with the performance of your cloth diapers. Below are two complete wash routines for prepping cloth diapers and washing cloth diapers. ***Please note that these routines are based on North American style washing machines that bring water in from a separate hot water tank. If you are using a machine that heats the water in the machine, do not wash on water hotter than 40 degrees Celsius as we've heard reports that washing with water at 60 degrees has damaged diapers.***
Prepping New Diapers
It is important to machine dry your diapers and inserts before you use them to remove fluff up the fibers and seal the seams of the diapers. Washing the diapers and inserts before use is not necessary, however if you choose to do so, make sure you are using a detergent that does not contain fabric softeners.
Do not use any liquid softeners, dryer sheets, dryer bars or natural oils while washing and drying the diapers. Bleach may be used occasionally in special circumstances to remove minerals or kill yeast in diapers but should not be used routinely.
Remove all the inserts from the diapers and place everything in your washing machine. Add the recommended amount of softener-free detergent and run a hot/cold wash. Throw the diapers and inserts in the dryer and run a regular dry on high heat to heat seal the seams and stitching. Please note that if you know that your dryer runs particularly hot or are unsure about the heat, heat seal the diapers on medium heat.
Every 2-3 days place all diapers, wipes, inserts and inverted wet bags into the washing machine. Do not use homemade laundry soap or any other product that is labeled as "soap" instead of "detergent" (such as soap nuts,) detergent that contains "sodium metasilicate" or "sodium cocoate," liquid softeners, dryer sheets, dryer bars, chlorine bleach (can be used occasionally but not with every wash) or natural/essential oils while washing and drying the diapers. Adjust the water level to the appropriate amount based on the size of your machine and the number of diapers. Turn your agitation level to heavy duty for all washes.
Set your machine to a cold or warm “soak,” “pre-rinse” or “rinse” to rinse all the urine out of your diapers and add the amount of detergent recommended for a small load along with your diapers. Once the rinse has finished, add the recommended amount of detergent for a large or extra large load (if you have hard water please also add either 1/4 cup Calgon, 1/2 cup borax or 3/4 cup washing soda to soften your water) and run a hot/cold wash.
After the wash is complete, throw all the diapers and inserts in the dryer on medium heat or high heat or hang to dry in the sun. Make sure the diapers are put out in the sun or in the dryer as soon as possible after the wash is complete so that bacteria does not have a chance to grow. It is not recommended to hang dry your diapers indoors out of direct sunlight because it can allow bacteria to grow. Always hang your wet bags inside out to dry.
When your diapers come out of the dryer, there should be no ammonia or barn yard smell. If your diapers have odor or if they are repelling moisture due to build-up please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Most stains will come out in the wash, however if you have a persistent stain, simply place your wet, clean diapers out in the sun or in a sunny window for the day and the sun will naturally remove the stain. Lemon juice is safe to use on the stain prior to sunning diapers.