Washing Cloth Diapers: a solid wash routine

Washing Cloth Diapers

Washing cloth diapers is simple.
Always remember the KISS method: Keep It Simple Stupid.
My all time favorite saying (sarcasm) when telling someone they should try cloth is, “I  don’t want to do cloth diapers because it’s extra washing.”
Nope. It’s not. Let me give you the break down of my routine and the “why’s” and I can help you build your solid routine!

Mine: I washed 2-3 times a week. I used Tide detergent (and do on our clothes). I washed with other laundry. And I only had to strip my diapers 1 time in their 2 years of use. First, I rinsed any solids out in the toilet. Dunk and swish method. Even breastfed poop.
***I highly recommend a diaper sprayer and if we weren’t on a very tight budget at the time of cloth diapering, I would have had our old plumbing fixed so I could have used one.

Then I left them in a dry “pail” (aka a small trash can with a lid) until wash day. When it was laundry time, I put all diapers, inserts, wetbags, and pail liner in for a rinse and spin with a little detergent. Then, I threw all the clothes in that needed washing and put the amount of detergent needed to clean the entire load. I washed hot with a cold rinse. When they were done, I made sure nothing felt sudsie and by sudsie you can check the laminated side of wet bags or pail liner to make sure no soap is left behind) Then, I would hang everything up to air dry and later put them in the dryer (except covers) to soften them up.

Seriously, it was that simple.
A cold rinse & spin and a wash.
No extra laundry other than a beginning rinse & spin that takes my washer 10 minute so to do!

See, washing cloth diapers can be easy!

So here’s some things I do recommend to do before determining your wash routine.

1. Do you have hard water or soft?
Here’s a link to free test strips to find out. From what I’ve read about these the do measure a touch on the softer side.
Order a FREE water testing strip –> here

2. Do you need a water softener?
Calagon is highly recommended to soften your water. Hard water doesn’t let detergent clean like it should and has lots of extra minerals in it which adhere to the fabric and can cause A LOT of issues with cloth diapers. Soft water you can use a little less or exact amount of detergent because it creates more suds. Never use more detergent! You can have a big problem with soft water too like having extra detergent hanging out in you diapers so you may need an extra rinse.
You can get it from Amazon –> Calgon Water Softener, 32 Fl. Oz.

3. Detergent.
And when I say detergent I mean detergent. Not soap. I don’t recommend homemade soaps because you want something that CLEANS GOOD! These are poop and pee catchers so bacteria! Here’s a link for a list of detergents through Fluff Love & Cloth Diaper Science with every ingredient in a detergent examined. While I highly recommend Tide or Gain (if there’s Tide allergies), I know there’s more options out there.
Fluff Love & CD Science detergent index –> here

4. Do you have a top loader or front loader? Is it standard or h/e? If it’s h/e, I highly recommend bulking up your load and here’s why.

High effiency washing machines are meant to use less water. Therefore the load may not be heavy enough to run the water level up some more. If that doesn’t make much sense then let me explain how they clean. Most new washers have impellers and not agitators. That means cleaning wise is it scrubs the items together for cleaning. Therefore less water and less agitation of the items scrubbing together. So if you’re throwing in 3 covers and 10 prefolds, great it’ll probably get clean. But if you’re only throwing in a cover and 2 prefolds, good luck. You may need to add a couple of towels.

Your diapers should come out smelling like the detergent. In the beginning I was getting mine too clean. YES YOU CAN GET THEM TOO CLEAN!! They came out of the dryer smelling like nothing. Not detergent or stink. As soon as my daughter peed they smelled like ammonia. As soon as I began adding detergent to the first rinse and spin and then eliminated a unnecessary extra rinse and spin after the wash the smell stopped! Easy peasy!!! I was adding more work on my routine and myself and wasting water!

Don’t dry your pul or tpu diapers. A little heat won’t hurt but let’s baby those things and keep them alive for a long time! And definitely NEVER use dryer sheets in the laundry with them. This coats them and won’t let them absorb and we don’t want to have to strip our diapers! I like soft clothes out of the dryer too and you can get this without dryer sheets by using wool dryer balls. They’re said to reduce drying time and make clothes soft. I don’t know about drying time but they do help soften my clothes and keep things fluffed up! Plus, it’s a natural fiber so no melting plastic smell, chemicals, or extra trash! And if you want scent, you can add a drop or two of essential oil to the balls periodically so your clothes smell like it.


Click here to download my Washing Your Cloth Diapers Guide with information on a washing routine with hard water and a washing routine with soft water!

Download a PDF on washing cloth diapers!

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