Washing Cloth Diapers
On the "normal" setting with a ½ cap detergent, and the washer drum ⅔ full of diapers. Then fluff the diapers in the washer so they’re not all stuck together, and run another load on the "heavy duty" setting with a full cap of detergent, and and the washer drum ⅔ full. If you do not have enough diapers to make the drum ⅔ full, you can fill with other small laundry items. Do not use fabric softener. This can coat the diapers with residue, causing them to repel moisture instead of absorb it.
Then diapers can go in the dryer, on medium or low heat. Do not use dryer sheets. This can coat the diapers with a waxy residue, causing them to repel moisture. Wool or plastic dryer balls are recommended and will help reduce the drying time. Hanging diapers to dry is an option as well, but it will take longer. If there are mild stains, laying the diaper out in the sun may help to remove them.
Plant based detergents need to be used with hot water to activate, but synthetic detergents can be used with either hot or cold water. Homemade detergents are not recommended - as they do not wash well enough and can cause lots of issues (acidic build up causing rash on baby, stink, stains, repelling, etc etc). Tide detergent is the most effective, so we recommend liquid or powered Tide to all cloth diaper users.
If there are bad stains, or your diapers come out stinky, you need to try tweaking your wash routine. If you have been washing in cold water try doing your cycles with hot water; try adding a little more detergent; washing with the drum a little less full; washing with the drum a little more full; tweaking the load settings; etc. Front opening washers and washers without agitators do not wash as well, so you may need to try replacing the first cycle with another heavy duty cycle if they seem to not be getting clean enough. Once you get a good routine down, it’s as easy as doing a normal load of laundry! Don’t get discouraged if it takes a few cycles to get them good and clean. If you're still having wash issues, feel free to reach out via email!
Storing dirty diapers! Most people store dirty diapers in either a plastic hamper with a pail liner, or in a hanging wet bag. Both kinds of bags are made with PUL or TPU, which are both waterproof materials (like the outside of a diaper). Pail liners usually have elastic around the top or a drawstring. Hanging bags usually have large handles at the top, and a zipper. Whatever kind of bag you use should be washed whenever you wash your diapers to prevent it from having a lingering smell. For best results turn bag inside out when throwing it in the washing machine, the inside of the bag is probably dirtier!
For the diaper bag, there are smaller travel wet bags. Made from the same material as larger storage bags (PUL or TPU), smaller bags can hold anywhere from 2-8 diapers, and helps keep the smell and moisture contained of dirty diapers when you need to change baby outside of the house.
Cloth wipes! Many people who use cloth diapers also choose to use cloth wipes. They are cheap to buy, and just as easy to use! Common materials for wipes include cotton, bamboo, or flannel terry. Many people carry a small bottle of them to wet the wipes before each use. Wipe “solutions” are common, but not necessary. Plain old water cleans very well enough! Cloth wipes can be thrown into the wash with the rest of the diapers with no extra care needed.
Treatment of Poopy Diapers! There are a few different “poop stages” babies go through, and the diapers need to be handled differently during each stage. But don’t worry - it’s pretty easy!
- Newborn - 6 months:
- If baby is strictly on breastmilk, the poopy diapers can get thrown right into the wash with no prewashing necessary, because breastmilk is water soluble it will dissolve easily in the wash. Yay!
- If baby is on formula some, or all of the time, diapers need to be sprayed or scraped off before going into the washer. Common methods are a rubber kitchen spatula right into the toilet (designated poo spatula), or with a bidet sprayer that can be attached to the toilet (spray right into the toilet), or with a removable shower head, spraying into a bucket, that then gets dumped into the toilet. You can purchase a cheap sprayer at WalMart or any home improvement store, and easily assemble it onto the side of your toilet. It is the preferable method, and actually much easier than you’d think!
Once baby is eating more solids, and drinking less milk: you will start to notice baby’s poops are more solid, and you can shake them easily into the toilet. This is exciting! It gets easy again! There isn’t a certain age that this happens, as it’s different for every baby, but usually around the 12-14 month mark. If poops plop right off into the toilet, you no longer need to spray those diapers off.
Note - if you feed baby blueberries, it will likely result in stained diapers!