How to Wash Cloth Diapers


Yesterday, Ben mentioned that I should write instructions on how to wash the diapers, because he never remembers. I figured I’d share my instructions with you guys because (1) I don’t think it can get more exciting around here and (2) at first I was completely overwhelmed by all the cloth-diaper-washing instructions on the internet. Washing cloth diapers is actually a very easy, two-step process.

how to wash cloth diapersStep 1: quick wash in cold water with no soap

We have a high-efficiency LG washer and I use “speed wash.” This defaults to hot water, so I change it to cold. I put the spin speed on extra high and the soil level on heavy.

Step 2: hot wash with soap and extra rinse

I use the cotton/normal setting, hot water, extra high spin, and heavy soil, and hit the “extra rinse” button (as pictured at right). I use a pump and a half to two pumps of Charlie’s Soap.

And that’s it!

The only time you need to get more fancy than this is if you have problems with diapers being stinky after you wash them or repelling liquid. We haven’t had the stinky problem, so I can’t tell you about that one. If your diapers repel liquid (I think ours did once because they were leaky for a while), you want to strip them. The purpose of stripping diapers is to remove any extra soap residue. All this requires is one or more hot wash cycles with no soap. I just did a normal wash cycle and then repeated step 2 with no soap until I saw no soap bubbles during the wash cycle. In 2+ years of using cloth diapers, I’ve only had to do this once.

Miscellaneous Diaper Tips

  • We use mostly pocket diapers. We remove the inserts before throwing them in the diaper pail so we don’t have to touch them later.
  • I turn the wet bag used to line the diaper pail (which is just a kitchen garbage bag) inside out before washing.
  • Everything goes in the same wet bag and gets washed together — diapers, inserts, wet bags, wipes.
  • Everything goes in the dryer except the bumGenius covers.
  • If you have leaky diapers and stripping doesn’t solve the problem, you might need to add another insert. This is why I like pocket diapers — you can customize them.
  • Line drying diapers in the sun is great for keeping stains away, even if you don’t do it all the time.
  • One-size diapers are awesome. They didn’t fit Soren as a newborn, but we’ve been using them since he was around 6 months old and they all still fit.
  • I recommend having an assortment of velcro and snap diapers. Ben prefers velcro and I prefer snaps. I think snaps are easier, they hold up better, and they’re harder for a toddler to open.
  • Use a prefold diaper on top of your changing pad cover. When it gets dirty, just throw it in with the other diapers. This keeps your changing pad cover clean.

For the next installment of my infrequent series of posts on cloth diapers, I’ll tell you about which brands we use and how we like them. Woohoo!