* Note: The following instructions are not intended to replace your manufacturer’s care instructions. – Always follow the fabric care instructions recommended by the cloth diaper manufacturer.
When you bring your wonderful new cloth diapers home, they should be laundered before the first use (“prepped”).
– Wash one time (warm or hot) with a tiny amount of detergent followed by an extra rinse. Hang dry or use the low/delicate setting in the dryer.
– Natural fibers such as cotton, bamboo, and hemp need to go through several wash/dry cycles to remove the natural oils and allow them to soften up and reach full absorbency. Usually, three cycles are enough, but it may take more. After three times, test them by sprinkling water on the diaper – if it absorbs right in, you’re done. If it beads up, keep washing and drying!
New & Old
If you already have a stash of diapers and you’re doing a load, you can throw your new diapers right in with them. Some sources suggest that it’s best to prep any brand-new natural-fiber diapers separately to avoid transferring the oils to other diapers; however, we have found this to be an overly complicated suggestion. Washing everything together won’t hurt a thing.
Wash your diapers every other day to keep them in the best possible condition. Washing less frequently allows the breakdown of urea, which can lead to ammonia smells, and the setting of stains.
The basic laundry routine is easy and straightforward. Don’t skimp on the water level. Upsize your load one level higher than the setting you would use for a regular load of clothing.
Initial Rinse: Warm or cold cycle with no detergent.
Wash: Hot cycle with detergent.
Final Rinse: Peek in your washer during this rinse. If you see suds, rinse again. It may take a few times to figure out the right amount of detergent to use in your wash cycle so that there are no suds in your final rinse, but it’s worth it. Detergent build-up reduces absorbency and irritates the skin.
Dry: Use the low/delicate setting in your dryer. Better yet, hang to dry –the sun is a natural stain remover, saves energy, and is easier on the diapers!
Babies who are exclusively nursed or formula-fed are the easiest. Their poop is water-soluble so that you can put the soiled diaper in the pail as it is.
Once solid foods are introduced, you should dispose of as much of it as possible.
Typical methods include:
- Use a flushable liner between the baby’s bottom and the diaper.
- Rinse it off using a diaper sprayer that attaches directly to your toilet.
- Scrape it off into the toilet with a rubber spatula. (Warning: Mark it clearly for its new purpose! You never want to see it in the kitchen!)
- The “dunk and swish.” Agitate the diaper by hand in the toilet bowl, then wring it out.
One of the best and safest ways to remove a stain is to lay the diaper, clean and wet, in direct sunlight for a few hours. You can also use bleach (oxygen bleach only, not chlorine!). Soaking is generally not recommended because it’s hard on PUL, TPU, and elastic.
Many laundry products you’ll find in the grocery store have additives that make them a wrong choice for cloth diapers. Additives lead to build-up! Avoid products with soaps, perfumes, dyes, fabric enhancers, bleach, softeners, or optical brighteners.
Creams and Ointments
“Repelling” is caused by greasy products that adhere to the fibers in the cloth diaper, thereby preventing the fibers from absorbing liquid properly. Always read the ingredient label of any diaper rash cream or ointment that you use – you can find my diaper rash creams for cloth diapers index here.