Washing Cloth Diapers
The information contained in this page consists of general cloth diaper washing and care tips. For more detailed, product specific, instructions, click the buttons below.
Wet Pail vs. Dry Pail
There are two methods to store cloth diapers after they are soiled - wet or dry storage
- 1. Wet – pail partially filled with water and a bit of baking soda. This method may prevent stains from setting. The major drawback to this method is the potential for drowning.
- 2. Dry – wet and dirty diapers are placed in a pail or diaper bag without pre-soaking. To control odors, sprinkle a small amount of baking soda on top, use a diaper odor removal spray, a deodorant disc, or sprinkle a few drops of essential oil onto a cloth and place this into the pail with the cloth diapers. Pail liners are also available.
Washing Methods & Tips
When washing cloth diapers, do not wash more than two dozen at a time to balance the load. If there are velcro tabs, fasten them to avoid damaging the velcro. Use 25-50% less detergent than normal to prevent buildup. Run the diapers through two cycles. COLD/COLD to rinse and HOT/COLD to wash. Optionally add no more than 2-3 drops of essential Tea Tree or Lavender oil to prevent odors.
NOTE: One of the most important steps of cloth diaper cleaning is making sure that they are completely rinsed and there were no suds left on the diapers.
Heat from the sun or dryer help sanitize the cloth diapers.
If using a dryer, select the HOT cycle for 60-90 minutes.
Always check the instructions on the particular brand of diaper to extend the overall life of the diaper and comply with the warranty.
After cloth diaper cleaning if there is still a lingering “diaper” odor, the diaper should be washed again. There may be bacteria present that will irritate baby and possibly cause a diaper rash.
ENERGY CONSERVATION: If you want to cut your electricity usage by 50-60%, line drying is a good option. Not only will you help to conserve energy, but the sun is wonderful for getting out tough stains on diapers. To avoid stiff diapers, set them out on the line during early morning or late afternoon hours when they will not dry as fast. Line drying your diapers will also extend their life, especially AIOs and covers.
Fragrance, dye, and additive free detergents are excellent for baby and for the diaper. It is also best to avoid detergents with whitening enzymes when. These enzymes can actually attack baby's sensitive skin and cause horrible, blistering rashes! Avoid washing cloth diapers with soap products since repeated washing with soap creates a waxy build-up that reduces the absorbency of an material. Here is a list of some possible detergents (the Lucky Baby caries FuzziBunz and bumGenius detergents):
- All Small & Mighty
- bumGenius Detergent
- Free & Clear
- Allen's Naturally Laundry Detergent - Also HE compatible
- Arm & Hammer For Sensitive Skin
- Country Save Powder - Also HE Compatible
- Crunchy Clean Detergent
- Mountain Green - Free & Clear, Free & Clear Baby, Ultra Baby - all HE Compatible
- Planet Ultra Liquid & Powder, 2X Ultra - Also HE Compatible
- Purex Free & Clear
- Rockin' Green Detergent (from FuzziBunz)
- Seventh Generation Delicate Care
- Sun FREE
- Trader Joes - Cleanliness is next to Godliness POWDER
- Xtra Perfume & Dye Free ONLY
Most parents dislike the idea of rinsing a soiled cloth diaper in the toilet prior to placing it in the diaper pail. Great news! You don’t have to dunk! Just lightly shake the poo into the toilet or use a bit of toilet paper to wipe of the majority and throw it into the pail. If the baby is still breastfeeding or on a milk only diet, there is no need to wipe anything off because it will rinse out in the washing machine.
There are also a variety of easy to assemble diaper sprayers, also called diaper showers, on the market to assist in pre-cleaning the diapers. This sprayer attaches to the bathroom toilet with ease. the Lucky Baby carries a FuzziBunz and bumGenius diaper sprayer.
Cloth Diaper Cleaning Errors
The following are NOT recommended for use when cloth diaper cleaning:
- Chlorine Bleach - Yes it is great for killing germs, but it is bad for cloth diapers, diaper covers, and the family. Bleach will eat away at the fibers in your diapers, leaving holes and frayed edges. It also decreases their durability and absorbency. It may adversely affect the PUL waterproofing in some diapers. Baking soda and oxygen bleach are great whiteners to use instead of bleach.
- Fabric Softener - This product is equated with super soft and fresh smelling clothing, so it is only natural that you would want to use it on your cloth diapers. This would be a serious mistake. Fabric softener, either in liquid or sheet form, leaves a water-repelling residue on your diapers. This makes them less absorbent and useless for the very purpose that they serve. Fabric softeners also coat the diaper covers and can deteriorate their water-proof laminate. We recommend re-usable dryer sheets by Static Eliminator. The Static Eliminator re-useable dryer sheet contains no chemicals and is hypoallergenic.
- Pure Soaps - Pure soaps are the more natural choice in the world of cleaners, but they will leave a residue on diapers and diaper covers similar to the soap scum you found in bath tubs. Soap scum on diapers makes them repel moisture rather than absorb it. It is also harsh on the laminates used in diaper covers making them absorb, rather than repel, water. The best choice for washing diapers is to use a natural clothes detergent for your cloth diaper care.
For more questions on cloth diaper cleaning, contact us here >