How to Wash Cloth Diapers: My Cloth Diaper Laundry Routine

Ask a group of cloth diapering mamas about washing cloth diapers, and you may get an assortment of answers. You will learn about different types of laundry detergents, whether or not to use bleach, wash cycles, and drying routines.

When I first started out with cloth diapers, my biggest question was about washing the dirty diapers. I asked around a lot, and even looked up things online. There’s plenty of laundry advice on the Internet, I know. Websites like The Laundress have a wealth of information on everything laundry-related. But, I wanted to know what out of those many techniques actually works for me. After some experimenting over the past year, I now have my cloth diaper wash routine down to a science that works for me, my baby, and my cloth diapers.

For the most part, my clean diapers live in a laundry basket of top of the dresser in the nursery. I store my Best Bottom shells, Best Bottom inserts, and Flip covers in the basket. The few pocket diapers and extra inserts that I own live in the bottom drawer of the dresser. Dirty diapers go inside a wet bag in a garbage can with a lid next to the changing table in the nursery. If the garbage can gets too full, I pull store the full wet bag in a baby bathtub on the floor next to the garbage and put the second of my three large wet bags in the can.

Dirty Cloth Diapers in Wet Bag Cold Rinse Cycle with 1/2 Tablespoon of Dreft

When I first began using cloth diapers, I owned only enough diapers to last one day and night, and so I ended up doing diaper laundry every day. I had one overnight diaper and just enough Best Bottom shells and inserts to keep my daughter diapered between washes. Now that I have expanded my stash extensively, I have enough cloth diapers to wash dirty diapers every three days. In fact, I have so many diapers that I could go longer, but I choose to wash my diaper laundry every third day to keep the dirty pile under control.

Dirty Cloth Diapers in Cold Rinse Cycle Rockin' Green Laundry Detergent

On wash day, I begin by rinsing the dirty cloth diapers in my washing machine. I use the cold rinse and super plus settings. I also add in 1/2 tablespoon of Rockin’ Green to the cold rinse water. (I formerly used Dreft but have since switched to Rockin’ Green.) To make the load a little bigger and add a little more agitation power, I typically throw in a dirty towel or two to my diaper laundry. Adding in a couple of towels ensures that all the dirty inserts and covers will agitate enough to get clean.

Washer Set to Warm/Cold, Super Plus, and Heavy Wash Cycle Washed Cloth Diapers in Washer

After the initial cold rinse cycle, I wash the diapers using the warm wash/cold rinse setting, super plus load size, and heavy wash cycle. I also add 2 to 3 tablespoons of Classic Rock Rockin’ Green Laundry Detergent to the water depending on the size of the load. If the load is larger, I use 3 tablespoons. If the load is average, then I use just 2 tablespoons. After the final rinse cycle is complete, I may add in an extra cold rinse cycle if I had used any Dawn to strip any of my inserts of errant diaper rash cream. In general, though, I do just the one rinse cycle followed by the regular wash cycle without any additional rinses.

Wet Inserts in Dryer Wet Diaper Shells and Covers on Drying Rack

Once my cloth diapers are clean but still wet, I separate the inserts from the Best Bottom shells and Flip covers. To protect the PUL and elastic, I hang up all the shells and covers on the drying rack in my laundry room. With the added help of the dehumidifier in the next room of my basement, the shells and covers air dry in just a few hours. All of my inserts and the occasional pocket diaper go in the dryer on the permanent press setting for 90 minutes. At the end of the day, my cloth diapers are clean and dry and ready to go back into my diaper basket.

lean Cloth Diapers in Basket

What is your cloth diaper laundry routine? Do you have any laundry tips? What kind of washing machine do you use?

To purchase many of the diapers and diaper products mentioned, please use my affiliate link to Nicki’s Diapers.

Image Credits

Dirty Cloth Diapers in Wet Bag 2013 Heather Johnson
Cold Rinse Cycle with 1/2 Tablespoon of Dreft 2013 Heather Johnson
Dirty Cloth Diapers in Cold Rinse Cycle 2013 Heather Johnson
Rockin’ Green Laundry Detergent 2013 Heather Johnson
Washer Set to Warm/Cold, Super Plus, and Heavy Wash Cycle 2013 Heather Johnson
Washed Cloth Diapers in Washer 2013 Heather Johnson
Wet Inserts in Dryer 2013 Heather Johnson
Wet Diaper Shells and Covers on Drying Rack 2013 Heather Johnson
Clean Cloth Diapers in Basket 2013 Heather Johnson

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