This post may contain affiliate links.
How Often Do You Wash Cloth Diapers?
One of the very first decisions new parents must make when they are gifted with a baby is the diaper situation. What brand of diapers to get, how many should you start with, and what type you should go with? Not many know this, but they still have places where you can buy cloth diapers, and disposable isn’t the only choice available.
The first instinct is to go for the disposable diapers; you assume they are easier to deal with, the baby has an accident, and you just throw them away once you are finished changing them. Before you know it, you have thrown away ten diapers in one day, and one of those was soiled immediately after putting it on the baby. What a waste. Those new parents do not realize all of the money they are wasting when they can be saving it with cloth diapers.
Now, the first question about cloth diapers is what maintenance is included in keeping the cloth diapers clean and ready-to-use when needed. How clean the cloth diapers are and what work goes into maintaining them is different for every parent, but some general washing guidelines should be followed if you’re trying to figure out if cloth diapers are right for your family.
How Often Do You Wash Cloth Diapers That Are Heavily Soiled?
The number of times you should wash cloth diapers will vary 1 – 3 days, depending on the state of the soiled diaper. If the baby had a big accident in the diaper, it should probably not be left to sit for 2 or 3 days, but be washed within that one day window. Then you would want to wait before that diaper again because you don’t want to re-use the diaper too soon and then have to rewash it within the same week.
How Often Do You Wash Cloth Diapers That Are Mildly Soiled?
On the other hand, if the cloth diaper is mildly soiled and doesn’t require too much attention, you can wait a couple of days to wash it, but you should not wait any longer than three days because then you are not only risking irreversible staining but also the chance of bacteria forming increases.
Bacteria On Cloth Diapers
Bacteria is a real threat and is something that you want to keep an eye on with anything that may come in contact with your baby. The best way to prevent bacteria is not to let a soiled diaper, no matter whether it’s due to a big or small accident, you do not want to leave the diaper in a dark, confined space. This allows bacteria to form. If you do not want to wash the cloth diaper right away then that’s perfectly fine, just make sure that the diaper is left somewhere with proper air circulation during the time between wash cycles.
Stains On Cloth Diapers
Washing more often does not decrease the likelihood of staining. If you do not want the diaper to be left with a stain, which no one wants, a neat trick is to leave the diaper in the sun. Like it does with hair, the sun is a natural bleacher since cloth diapers are white, then that means they will not lose their original color and makes this method color-safe. This avenue also helps parents to avoid using unsafe chemicals like bleach to return the white color to your diaper.
What About Changing A Non-Soiled Cloth Diaper At Bath Time?
Now, if the baby did not have an accident in the diaper and you are doing a changing because you just bathed the baby, or if you have changed the baby’s outer clothes and decided to change the diaper too, then you can wait a little longer to wash the cloth diaper.
The More You Wash, The Shorter The Cloth Diapers Lifespan!
When it comes to cleaning a cloth diaper, you want to try to keep the washing to a minimum. Like many clothes, the more it is washed, the shorter the lifespan. This doesn’t mean you should skip the washing schedule to get the cloth diaper to last longer, but you do not want to wash the diapers more often than they need to be washed.
Smelly Cloth Diapers
You don’t want to wait too long between days to clean the cloth diaper, because not only do you have to worry about staining, but also smell. The longer the diaper stays soiled, the worse the smell and harder it is to get it out. If your cloth diapers start to exhibit an aroma that is beyond the typical odor of a soiled diaper, it is time for a wash. This is left to your discretion, no matter when you last washed the diaper.
Cloth Diaper Manufacturer Washing Instructions
The one set of instructions that should be strictly followed are the ones laid out by the manufacturers. They know their products more than anyone else, so it’s best to always read the manufacturer’s care instructions and follow them to the best of your abilities. If they say to wash the diapers every other day, then that’s what you do.
Cloth diapers are great to have for new parents, especially if money is tight, but you have to take care of them.
They should be washed often enough to keep them free of bacteria, stains, and odor, but also not so much that you wear the diapers out before you get your money’s worth out of them. Cloth diapers are not something you can neglect without facing the consequences of making them unusable.
At the end of the day, it comes down to being a judgment call. You have to be able to see and smell a cloth diaper and be able to decide whether or not it needs to be washed, regardless of the last time that it was done. If you just washed it a couple of days ago and it is stained and smelly then rewash it before using it.
When it’s something that deals with your baby, corners should never be cut because it is not worth dealing with the aftermath. If you can’t decide whether or not wash the diaper, then wash it. It is better to wash it more often than not often enough.
GroVia. “Top 6 Laundry Mistakes.” GroVia,
“Washing Cloth Diapers.” Nicki’s Diapers,