Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Cloth Diaper Laundry

Along with picking the type of cloth diapers you want to use, figuring out your cloth diaper laundry routine is one of the most overwhelming parts of cloth diapering. But fear not! It's really not as bad as it is made out to be. After hand washing our diapers for over a month, throwing everything in the washing machine is super simple to me.

Here's the basic formula for washing your diapers.

Cold rinse
Hot wash (with detergent)
Cold rinse

See, it's not too bad! Here's more of a step by step breakdown of how I do everything. Keep in mind I don't have a full-sized washer. We have a Haier portable washing machine we purchased on Craigslist. It has worked great for us, I highly recommend getting one if you are thinking of cloth diapering and don't have your own laundry. A full-sized machine can hold between 15-20 diapers at a time. I have heard you don't want to use less than that because the diapers need to agitate against each other. With my Haier portable machine I will do between 6-10 diapers per load. I do end up doing laundry way more often than most cloth diaper parents, but it's totally manageable for us.

The first thing I have to do is attach the machine to the sink.

I'll admit, it can be very inconvinennt doing diaper laundry sometimes since I loose access to our sink for a couple hours each time. I try to do the laundry at night after I've cleaned up the kitchen but sometimes I have to do it during the day. I just make sure our Brita pitcher is filled in case I need water for anything.

The drain hose attached to the machine was too short when we bought it so we had to get an extender hose for it.

Problem solved! The little bits of hose taped on are to help with the kinks that were in the hose.

Okay, now on to the laundry.

I load the machine and set it on rinse using cold water. My machine actually does a spin cycle first on this setting, which is useless at this stage but I can't figure out how to stop it.

Always use as much water as you can in your machine. Cloth diapers love water! The first rinse is important in getting all the yuckies off your diapers. If you were to skip it and start with the hot wash, you'd be washing them in dirty water, which won't accomplish much.

My scoop is from a tub of formula that I marked with 1/2 tbs. and 1 tbs.

Next it's time for the wash. Use the hottest water you can. As far as detergents go, what works for one person might not work for you. I use regular old powdered Tide most of the time. For my portable machine I use a half a tablespoon per load. If you have a regular machine a full tablespoon will probably be enough. It sounds a little strange, but you only need to use about half to a quarter of the recommended amount. Using the regular amount will cause build up on your diapers and will make them leak. They'll still get clean with just a little detergent, I promise.

I always do a cold rinse with the wash cycle.

After the wash cycle is over I do one or two extra cold rinses to make sure all the detergent is out of the diapers.

When everything is done I hang the diapers and inserts on my drying rack.

If you have a dryer go ahead and throw all your inserts in. I don't recommend drying anything with PUL very often. It's great to dry them when prepping to seal it, but the heat can damage it over time. My pockets air dry in about an hour.

Whew, I hope that makes sense! Just remember,

Cold rinse
Hot wash (with detergent)
Cold rinse

You can't go wrong there!

Every once in a while you will need to strip your diapers. Even with using less detergent and doing extra rinses detergent build up can happen every few months. The diapers will start to repel moisture and they'll leak the moment your baby pees. I could do a whole post on stripping, but it's pretty simple. Start with clean diapers. Squirt some blue Dawn dish soap in your washing machine and run a hot wash cycle. You can also use a product called RLR. After the wash cycle rinse, rinse, rinse! When I did it I did five hot rinses I think. Just make sure you don't see any suds.

CLICK HERE to check out my other Cloth Diaper Month posts!


  1. The washing routine was the part that intimidated me the most for sure! Right now, I need to prep my diapers since we haven't started yet (little guy's still baking) but do you know, do I have to wash/prep my hemp inserts separate from the microfiber inserts? We have the flip system, diaper shell, microfiber inserts and then I bought a couple hemp inserts for possibly over-night protection DS may need. Oh we also have a fuzzibuns pocket diaper.

    1. Yes, you need to prep the hemp separate from the MF inserts. The MF and shells/pockets only need to be washed once to prep. For the hemp you'll want to wash them 3-5x with detergent. Let them dry in between each wash, too. After that you can wash everything together. HTH!!

  2. Definitely bookmarking this. We have a regular washing machine, but bought a Haier (also on Craigslist) just for diapers. As much as possible, I'd like to use it as a diaper pail/wet bag. We were able to stick it in the bathroom closet and will probably plumb it in directly as not to lose use of the sink.

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