4 Things Needed to Cloth Diaper Successfully part 2

In Part 1 I showed you how to choose what type of cloth diapers to buy and my favorite way to store dirty cloth diapers- in a wetbag.

As a safe recommendation for most parents I suggested pocket cloth diapers. This is a good starting point for most new to cloth diapers. You can use a pocket cloth diaper for day or night and your baby will have a stay-dry feeling against his/her skin.

I also suggested the use of a wet bag(s) for storing dirty cloth diapers. I chose this route because of portability and securing of odors and moisture. You will need at least 1 XL wetbag and 1 Medium wetbag for out of the house. This will only secure a couple of days worth of cloth diapers so add more depending on when you will do laundry.

Speaking of laundry…

You do have to wash those dirty things at some point. But, what will you use?

If ever there was a point on this blog that you understood how much I am just like you it’s in regards to laundry.

I’ve had ammonia, I’ve had stink, I’ve had rashes (well, not me, but my child), I’ve had frustration.

Several weeks ago I wrote an article called An Open Letter to Natural Detergent Makers.  I genuinely feel that natural detergents just don’t, or can’t, work in the long run (with most water types).  I want them to.

I truly wanted to be proven wrong and have a new natural detergent to use on a regular basis.

The one thing I knew I was going to have to do was use a lot more than one tiny scoop per load.  For large loads I used 3 scoops.  It took about a month to use a whole container (remember I was using it for all my laundry and I have 5 children).  After a month I had to stop using it for our laundry because shirts had body odors, towels smelled dirty and food particles could be found on Camden and Sterling’s clothes.

I continued on with the 2nd container with just cloth diapers.  The cloth diapers weren’t smelling clean but I wasn’t having major issues so I toughed it out.

2 weeks later I had to throw in the towel..not literally hehehe

Clothes and cloth diapers should not smell dirty at all after you wash them.  Period.

Does this mean that natural detergents don’t work for anyone?  Absolutely not.  I know many of you have great success with detergents like Rockin Green, Eco Nuts, Country Save and many more.

What it does mean is that natural detergent has not worked for me when I have lived in areas of very hard water.

And I know there are many of you who are struggling with issues and the common denominator is always detergent.

I now suggest to cloth diaper parents to use a mainstream detergent like Tide or Purex.  Personally, I have used Purex since the spring (aside from my experimental period) and have had clean diapers.

Will Tide and Purex cause problems after months of use?  Perhaps.  Not always though.  If you do find yourself with symptoms of buildup: repelling or ammonia, then add a packet of RLR to the wash and soak for a couple of hours.

One step in my laundry routine that hasn’t changed in several years is the use of Bac Out in the prewash.  I’ve used it on every time of cloth diaper style and fabric without problems…I will say that after 1 1/2-2 years of using the same Bum Genius Elementals I did have holes in the organic cotton.  This could have been contributed to by the Bac Out.  I don’t know but it’s worth noting.

In conclusion, for laundering your dirty cloth diapers I recommend Bac Out in the prewash (3 squirts = 1/3 cup), Tide or Purex in wash, extra hot rinse.  I’ve almost always dried my cloth diapers in the dryer on medium but, depending on brands and styles, line drying may keep them in better condition.

One more thing.  Can you use fabric softener?  Yes! As long as you choose a natural plant based brand like Mrs. Meyers or similar.


It is true that most children have fewer rashes in cloth diapers than in disposables.

Many of you switched to cloth diapers because of rashes.

But, if you are used to grabbing for ButtPaste or A&D Ointment you are going to need to toss those and add a new product to your repertoire.

Thankfully, there are many many excellent diaper rash creams that are safe for cloth diapers.  Tons.

I have blogged about many of them over the years.  The main ingredient to avoid is (besides the obvious like ingredients that you can hardly pronounce) cod liver oil or castor oil.

Check this link for a full list of cloth diaper safe rash creams.

My favorites are Earth Momma Angel Baby Bottom Balm and CJ’s BUTTer.

Rashes will happen.  Whether it’s a change in diet, sickness or allergy rashes are something you can tackle.  Be prepared with something safe for baby and cloth diapers.

This series includes the most basic 4 items you need for cloth diapering.  I could have easily added more but the point is to get you started successfully and then we can go from there.

I am always here to help you in your journey!  Happy diapering!

Now go enter the Big Fluffy Giveaway! There are hundreds of dollars of prizes up for grabs! (cloth diapers, wet bags, creams, amber necklace and even a ring sling!)

We also have a great flash giveaway on Facebook right now! Click here to enter!

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About Autumn Beck

Autumn is a wife, mother, homeschool teacher, friend and most important a follower of Christ. She began cloth diapering in 2005 and has experienced many joys and trials throughout the years. You can read more from Autumn over at https://www.facebook.com/beautifullyblessedlashes.

View all posts by Autumn Beck

32 Responses to “4 Things Needed to Cloth Diaper Successfully part 2”

  1. Andrea Says:

    Hi Autumn,
    do you still use and recommend a mainstream detergent such as Tide or Purex? I’m starting CDing for the first time ever with our newborn (due 8/4/13) and have put Rockn Green CLassic Rock Bare Naked on my registry list, but if I can get away with using a regular detergent I would like that very much. I don’t want stink, and I don’t want to ruin my stash of diapers even before I begin! Also, if you do still recommend Tide and other mainstream detergents, is there a specific variety like Free and Clear? I have average city water with a water softner and an older top load washing machine.

    Thank you!


  2. Jasmin L. Says:

    Hello! I’m an expectant first-time mother, lately investigating diaper options. I’m leaning toward cloth diapers because of cost, and I’m looking for anything that can tell me how best to use them. But a few things in your article here have set off some alarms in my head.

    As a chemistry buff, I’m a little wary of anyone who says not to use anything that contains ingredients I “can hardly pronounce”. I can usually pronounce all of the ingredients in everything I buy and generally have a pretty good idea of what those ingredients are. And I can assure you that most of these ingredients are just as “natural” as anything you can pronounce. In fact, they often have common names that you use every day.

    For example, would you be any less willing to use table salt if I called it sodium chloride? Would you be less willing to eat fruits if I told you they contain fructose? Would you refuse to buy a particular baby toy if I told you it was made of acrylonitrile butadeine styrene? Just because you don’t use these words every day and might have trouble saying them?

    A lot of people don’t know what “iodized” means. My mother, for one, can’t pronounce it. And yet, if nobody consumed iodized salt, they would all have goitres the size of pumpkins.

    So, what I’m getting at here is that nobody should let a lack of knowledge guide their purchasing decisions. And I appreciate that you pointed out things that are easy to forget to consider, like where to put dirty diapers and whether or not its safe to use the same creams as with disposables. But I really hope you’ll rethink shunning an ingredient just because you don’t know what it is (that’s what google is for!)

    Anyway, thank you for the very helpful article(s). :)


  3. Laura Says:

    Hi Autumn, quick question about your using purex. Do you use the free and clear version, or one with fragrance? I have been making my own detergent (washing soda, borax, and Oxyclean) and my diapers just aren’t getting clean. I want to switch to another inexpensive detergent and like purex’s price :) I’d like to use something that smells good rather than fragrance free but I don’t want to end up with repelling issues. Thanks!
    P.S. your blog has been soooo helpful! :)


  4. Jennifer Says:

    Hi Autumn,
    If I need to use A&D or some other non-cloth-safe cream, I was thinking I’d just make some liners out of old t-shirts and place those in the diaper. My question is, how do I then wash the liners (particularly if they’re really dirty)? I’d rather not wash poopy liners with my regular clothes, but if I wash them with the diapers, will the diaper cream come off in the wash and affect the diapers? Thanks so much!


  5. Jay Says:

    How did you use Grandma Els? With a liner? With certain style diapers? I’ve heard that it is and isn’t safe to be directly against cloth diapers. I would like to try it but don’t want to make it more complicated than necessary.


  6. Lori Says:

    I have used purex free & clear since my 28-mo-old was born with no issues. I use mostly pockets. The only issues I’ve had is my lo has skinny legs and a long rise which makes getting a good fit with thirsties and rumparooz difficult. I’ve had leak issues lately. Fuzzibunz fit him the best, but the plu is junk. After just 2 years, I only have 2 of the 10 that I can still use! So frustrating since I am expecting our second any day now.


  7. Ashley Says:

    Unfortuantely we had to abandon CD our second. No matter how many insets I stuffed into our OS Pockets he still had wicking out the sides. It’s not a matter of repelling. The inserts are soaked through!! All I could come up with was maybe he has really heavy flow when he goes??? He doesn’t pee a ton though as he could go longer than 2 hours with a disposable if I wanted him to. It’s just not that wet. I have used microfiber, hemp, and bamboo. I even combined one microfiber and one hemp with microfiber on top for it ability to absorb faster and hemp or bamboo on the bottom for its ability to hold a lot of moisture. We cannot even make it two hours without our pants getting damp from the wicking. My husband it not open to any other types which he feels are more complicated than a disposable hence the use of pockets. If anyone has any advice I would love to hear it. It would be nice to go back to cloth! I too really wanted natural detergent to work but found that Tide was the ticket to keeping them smelling fresh.


    • Irene Says:

      It sounds like he does have high-flow! It may be that your pockets are leaking because they are overstuffed. I had this when I tried to CD my bedwetter in a pocket. Maybe check if the leg elastic sticks up a bit above the inner before you put it on – if it doesn’t then it won’t be able to hold onto the legs either.
      Also, weigh one of his diapers (disposable) dry, and later wet, using a scale that measures by the part ounce (probably a food scale, so in a bag?). This will let you know his output. To check if your inserts have the appropriate input, weigh them dry. Then make them wet, and hang for 30 minutes – above the sink or something as they will drip. Weigh again, and the difference is capacity. Let them hang longer if you don’t want them to be that wet when you use them. This way you will at least know whether the capacity of the inserts is close to his output.
      One insert you didn’t mention trying was cotton. Prefolds tri-folded in a pocket can be quite trim and very absorbent. I haven’t done it myself but only because I didn’t have any in the house. Just don’t get the cheap Gerber prefolds. DSQ prefolds will be way more absorbent, Indian DSQ more than Chinese DSQ.
      All the best!


  8. Renae Meyer Says:

    Tide has worked great for me! I recently started to do the prewash, reg. wash and extra rinse and now my diapers are finally coming out smelling clean!
    I will stick by Tide or maybe try Purex someday but since it cleans my diapies I will use it and use my homemade detergent for our clothes.

    Thanks for this series, I have been sharing it with friends on FB since I’m prego with my second (due end of Dec.) and hoping to have a successful cloth diaper shower next weekend! Many of my friends think I’m crazy for using cloth so this will help them see that it’s not so complex.


  9. Diane L Says:

    I use the free and gentle Tide, and my LO has no rashes with it. She did with Charlie’s. Anyhow, I want to try your idea of prewash with Bac Out. Is it the Biokleen Bac-Out Stain & Odor Eliminator that you’re talking about? Thanks for writing this awesome blog! I downloaded your Ultimate Guide last year, been reading your blog, and have been CDing for a year now!


  10. Idaly Says:

    Hello Dear,

    I love your webpage and this post was excellent!! I have a diaper rash issue going on right now. It has been over a week. The doctor prescribed some ointment but has not work yet. I am using Rockin Green detergent and disposible wipes do you think either or can be causeing the DR in my LO… Thank you for your help!!


    • Autumn Beck Says:

      Yes, either could. How long have you been using RnG? If for a long time with no problems it’s not likely it is causing the rash. Disposable wipes do contain chemicals so yes they can cause rashes. What does the rash look like?


  11. ChristineG Says:

    Awesome post. I have been cding for over 18 years (expecting baby #8 any day) and I couldn’t possibly agree more with your conclusions on natural detergents. I desperately want them to work, but they just don’t for us. In the beginning, I used mainstream detergent because there weren’t a lot of crunchy-granola detergents around. However, being as crunchy-granola as I am, when some cool ones began to crop up, I started to try them out. And, I tried hard. I was very disappointed. My dh kept asking why our clothes were so dingy and our diapers weren’t clean. About a year ago, we finally switched back to mainstream detergent and it is so much better.

    As far as diaper cream goes, though, I have found that I need to use something with a bit of zinc if our babies have diaper rash. The non-zinc ones, though cd-friendly, don’t seem to do the job for us, including plain coconut oil. My fave diaper cream is Weleda’s Calendula Diaper Care. I don’t find it causes any issues for us with our diapers and I don’t do anything special in terms of liners or washing.

    Thanks, Amber!


  12. Amber Says:

    Are you still in California and did you have to change your wash routine for our water here?


  13. Janice Auna Says:

    Thank you for this article. Good stuff. But I am confused on one part. That would be the part where you use tide or purex to wash. I thought we weren’t supposed to use them (I’m a newbie so I could be absolutely wrong). Is there a certain kind that you buy that’s more “natural?” Does using it void the warranty or whatever on cloth diapers? Maybe you can email me your response since I’m not online too often and might forget to check back here for it :) THanks!


    • tarin Says:

      It will void your warranty if you use it and experience problems with your diapers and want to claim against the warranty, however, if its that risk vs getting your diapers clean, i chose the latter. A number of people, including me, have used commercial detergents for years without any problems. Tide is the only detergent that gets my diapers as clean as i need them to be, and all the gollywobble about using only half the recommended amount of any detergent is hogwash to me. Tried it and it doesnt work. Frankly, your diapers are probably the dirtiest laundry you have and needs a decent amount of detergent to get clean. I’ve always used the full amount and have had no problems, and thats after 3 years of use.


  14. Amanda Says:

    Great information! Especially the wash routine. I have been trying to determine a plan of attack for February when our LO arrives. We have hard water. I have read about adding Calgon to the wash with hard water…Thanks for sharing all of your experience!


  15. Brooke Says:

    The use of mainstream detergent is great advice. I wanted desperately to love Nellie’s Laundry Soda. The ingredients, the lack of perfume, made in Canada, the price, and the cute vintage-style packaging all really appealed to me. But we had “not quite clean” stink issues within a couple weeks. I tried more detergent, and different washing settings, to no avail. I used Tide HE once … Finally the stink and my baby’s rash are gone. I am going to experiment using slightly less than the recommended amount of Tide (line 1), because even with an extra rinse, my diapers were very scented.


  16. Rebekah Says:

    In trying to stay away from commercial detergents, I was washing my diapers in my homemade liquid detergent, but I found that they were not clean and did not smell good. I tried washing them in Purex and Dreft but found that even these did not take away all the stench. I am now using a homemade detergent that I seem to be having success with.
    1 cup of borax
    1 cup of arm and hammer washing soda
    1/2 cup of oxyclean
    (This mix lasted me a month washing diapers every other day for one infant who leaves me LOTS of breastmilk poops!).

    At washing time, add vinegar.

    I have an HE machine and medium-hard water. I run them through a quick rinse cycle with cold water and add 1-2 TBSP detergent and 1/2 cup of vinegar to the water.

    Then I run them through a hot water cycle with another 1-2 TBSP (depending on how soiled they are) and 1/3 a cup of vinegar. I pinned this recipe off of Pinterest but I can’t remember the website for it at the moment.

    I also soaked some of my diapers and liners in cold water and Tea Tree Oil for the first time this week. I have those diapers in the wash now and I am anxious to see if I notice a difference.


  17. Kelly Says:

    What is “a packet of RLR?”


  18. Kelly Says:

    What type of diapers do you have? It just seems your wash routine shouldn’t be that complicated. I have hard water. I use hard rock. I use only prefolds and covers. I prewash mine in warm water. I use approximately 3 scoops hard rock wash hot on longer cycle and then do a warm rinse . No smell, never had to strip , no chemical build up, and no ammonia! I also use a top loader and line dry!


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