How To Clean Cloth Diapers – 5 Easy Steps

How To Clean Cloth Diapers

Picking out cloth diaper prints for your baby is thrilling. Then you bring them home, and the reality hits. How do I clean these stinky cloth diapers?

It’s actually very easy to clean cloth diapers. First, knock solids into the toilet. Toss all of your diaper covers, inserts, cloth wipes, and diaper pail/ liner into the wash. Do one cold rinse to wash most of the remaining solids out. Add cloth diaper safe detergent and wash on warm with as much water as your machine will allow you. End your wash with a rinse or two to get out any remaining detergent. Hang those cute, clean diapers to dry and put your feet up. You’re done!

It really is that simple. There are only a few tips and tricks to becoming an expert at washing cloth diapers. It’s similar to separating lights from darks or remembering to put your hand washables on a gentle cycle.

How To Clean Cloth Diapers At Home

1. Spray poop off diaper

Cleaning cloth diapers doesn’t require any prep if you can pick up a few easy habits. These habits will cut down on the gross factor when wash day comes around. After you change baby, immediately spray poop off of the diaper with a diaper sprayer. This handy tool will remove large chunks of poop and pieces that get stuck in the creases. I personally use the Aquaus SprayMate & Aquaus 360 Premium Diaper Sprayer for Toilet Bundle Combination found on Amazon here.

You can skip this step with breastfed poop if you want. Breastfed poop is water-soluble and will completely disintegrate in the washing machine.

Next, remove all inserts from diaper covers and pocket diapers. If you can remember this habit, it will save you from having to touch a whole diaper pailful of these icky 2-day old inserts.

Now we are on to washing! This is what you will actually do on wash day. You can choose to wash each day, or you could wash every 2nd to third day. For me, the sweet spot seems to be every second day. You could wash every third day, depending on your climate and preferences. The more humid and hot your indoor environment is, the closer your wash days will be.

2. Cold Rinse

First, empty all your diapers, inserts, covers, wipes, pail liners, and wet bags into your washer. You will want to run one cold wash. The first cold wash rinses out any particles. It is also excellent at stopping your diapers from getting stained. This is an important first step, so your diapers won’t contain any more chunky bits.

3. Hot wash with detergent

Add your cloth diaper safe detergent. This is where the bulk of the diaper cleaning will happen. Do a full wash cycle on warm or hot. The hot wash will help to clean the smells and bacteria. Make sure your load has adequate water. You may need to set your washing machine to heavily soiled. Or if you have a HE washer, you can add a soaked bathroom towel in to trick your washing machine into using extra water.

4. Rinse

Your cloth diapers will need an extra rinse at the end. The rinse at the end of the wash cycle removes any extra suds. This will maintain the absorbency of your diapers.

how-to-clean-cloth-diapers hang dry

5. Hang to dry

Cloth diapers can be hung to dry instead of putting in the dryer. Hanging your diapers will cut down on the washing expense. Diaper covers and diapers with PUL built in such as All-In-Ones, pockets, and All-in-twos, are best kept out of the dryer. The high dry heat degrades this material over time. If you need to dry these quickly, tumble dry them on low. Inserts, liners, and prefolds can be put in the dryer like regular clothes or also hung to dry.

That’s all there is to cloth diaper washing. No rocket science needed.

How To Clean Cloth Diapers

How To Clean Cloth Diapers After Starting Solids

Your wash routine won’t actually change that much once the baby starts solids. The key to remember here is that poop from food acts a little differently than exclusively breastfed poop. Breastfed poop is water-soluble. This means that if you simply add water, the poop will dissolve. Poop that is from food or formula is not completely water-soluble. Therefore, you will have to remove most of it before it is washed.

If the poop is solid, it can usually be knocked off into the toilet. If your baby’s stool reminds you of a youtube slime video, a diaper sprayer will be your best friend. Simply hold the diaper over the toilet and spray it to your heart’s content. This is the main modification to make once your baby takes her first bite.

How To Clean Cloth Diapers Without Sprayer

What if you don’t have a diaper sprayer? Don’t panic; there are a few simple tricks. Some parents keep a dedicated spatula on hand to scrape off creamy poos. It’s like the opposite of icing a cake. There is also the dunk and swish method. Hold both ends of the diaper, so the dirty side faces outward. Dunk the diaper into the toilet and vigorously swish. This should take the majority of nastiness off of the diaper.

How To Clean Cloth Diapers With Hard Water

Hard water isn’t a big issue for cloth diaper lovers. You just need an extra ingredient in your wash. Hard water is the amount of dissolved minerals in your water. These minerals love to stick to the absorbent layers in cloth diapers. The minerals then prevent the diaper from absorbing as much moisture. These little minerals also hold onto ammonia smells.

Hard water ranges from just above 60 parts per million (ppm) to very hard, which is over 250 ppm. To remedy this, you will need to add a water softener to each wash cycle. Borax works great up until 250 ppm. Calgon can be used for hard water over 250 ppm.

In your initial rinse cycle, use ¼ cup of the softener. In your second hot cycle, use ½ cup. If you have very hard water (250 ppm or higher), use ½ cup of water softener in each cycle.

Cloth Diapers Spot Cleaning

One of the easiest ways to remove stains from a diaper is sunning. Similar to a tourist in Cancun, your diapers will want to lay out in the sun every now and then. The sun helps to lighten stains. Place your sunny diapers outside or near a sunny window to absorb the rays.

If those pesky stains refuse to come out, try lemon juice. Squirt some lemon juice onto the stain and place your diaper in the sun. You will have to rewash your diapers to remove the lemon juice. Don’t forget this step. The acidic lemon will burn your baby!

To target a specific spot, try the Buncha Farmer’s Stain Removal Stick. This all-natural stain remover can be directly applied to the stain. Wash as you normally would.

Cloth Diapers Cleaning Solutions – Problem Solving

stinky how to clean cloth diapers

My diapers Stink!

If you are washing every third day, increase your frequency of washing days. Ammonia can build up while your diapers are waiting to be washed. Also, your diapers may not be getting clean enough. Maybe you need to increase or decrease the amount of detergent. Double-check that your detergent follows the cloth diaper rules. See our 40+ best cloth diaper laundry detergent choices chart.

You can also try a hot vinegar soak overnight to remove stinky buildup. If all else fails, deep, clean, or strip your diapers. This will allow you to reset your diapers.

My baby has a rash.

Make sure you are changing your baby regularly. Use a liner in your diapers to wick away moisture. Review the cloth diaper washing routine to ensure you are properly cleaning your diapers each time. Detergent might have built up in your diapers. Ensure your diapers are coming out of the wash completely clean and detergent free.

My diapers are leaking.

First, check that your baby’s diapers fit correctly. Is the prefold the right size? Are the snaps correctly placed? If everything is sized correctly, check if the PUL is broken. Your diapers could be leaking because they are repelling moisture. Have you checked if you have hard water? Remember to add a softener if you have hard water.

Cloth Diapers Cleaning Service

Are you still hesitant about washing cloth diapers? If you love the idea of cloth diapers and would like the convenience of someone else doing the laundry, try a cleaning service. A cloth diaper cleaning service will deliver clean diapers to your house each week. They will take your dirty diapers and wash them for you.

Take note that most of these services only include prefolds and covers. If you love prefolds, this can be a great option for you. A cleaning service is more expensive than buying and cleaning the diapers yourself. However, it still might save you a bit of money compared to disposables.

Diaper cleaning services are generally local to your area. A quick google search will help you find businesses nearby that offer this service.

Cleaning your cloth diapers can be as simple as washing your clothes. Sure there are a few things to keep in mind, but overall the process is straightforward. If you’re still on the fence, consider a cloth diaper cleaning service.

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