When it comes to washing cloth diapers you have either figured out a wash routine or are currently struggling to find one.
By far the #1 topic I am asked to help with is how to wash cloth diapers. I’m going to lay out a simple Q&A for my wash routine. I pray this helps some of you with the struggles you are having.
Q: How do I store dirty cloth diapers?
A: Since 2009, I have been consistently using a wet bag system for storing cloth diapers. I have built up a stash of XL wet bags to store 15+ diapers each.
Q: What is my favorite wet bag?
A: I have used several different brands of wet bags. When it comes down to the brand that performs best all around Monkey Foot Designs wins out. I do have a couple of other brands that perform well but are either not as cute or not as big: Ragababe and Rumparooz.
Q: Do I dump/rinse dirty cloth diapers?
A: No. I will dump if it is truly a solid.
Q: How often do I wash cloth diapers?
A: This varies widely. Sometimes every other day, sometimes every 4 days. It really depends on how bad I want to use my preferred diapers. When Finley was just born and Camden wasn’t using the potty, I was washing every day because there were so many diapers!
Q: How do I use Bac Out?
A: I use Bac Out in every prewash (almost since I began cloth diapering in 2005). I use 1/3 cup or 3 big squirts if you have a squirt bottle. Bac Out will void many manufacturer warranties so be aware of this if you choose to use Bac Out.
Q: What temperature water do I wash with?
A: Prewash: cold Wash: hot 2nd rinse: cold (only option)
Q: How do I disinfect cloth diapers?
A: To disinfect cloth diapers I use grapefruit seed extract. I add ~1 teaspoon for a full load. I purchased Nutribiotic GFSE off Amazon years ago and I am still using the same bottle.
Q: What type of washing machine do I have?
A: In Texas I have a front loader Samsung Steam and California I have a basic GE top loader. The only complaint I have about my top loader is the very weak agitator. However, my diapers and clothes come out clean as long as I don’t overload it.
Q: Do I have hard water?
A: Yes. In both my residences- south Texas and southern California.
Q: Do I soften the water?
A: In Texas we have a home water softener. In California, no. I have not had any problems not having a water softener. I simply add more detergent and my diapers smell clean right out of the dryer and when peed in. If you would like an inexpensive option for boosting your detergent efficacy check out What is RLR and How to Make a Cheap Substitute
Q: What type of detergent do I use?
Enzymes will void many manufacturer warranties. Make sure you do a 2nd rinse any time you use enzymes in your wash.
Q: What type of fabric softener do I use to soften fitteds and prefolds?
A: Mrs. Meyers and Ecover are two great options.
Q: Do I use vinegar in the wash?
A: Not at this time because we have hard water. If you have soft water you can add 1/4 cup to the rinse cycle to help mini-strip the diapers and soften.
Q: How do I strip cloth diapers?
A: With a TL: fill the basin with hot water, stop machine, add RLR, add diapers, agitate or swish with broom stick, soak several hours. With an HE: I use the bathtub. Fill with hot water, add RLR, add diapers, swish and soak. There is more work involved with a bathtub soak because I have to wring each item out when finished and take to the washer. Remember I have hard water. In 2006, the city we lived in had super soft water so I would do a vinegar soak to strip. Fill basin, add 4 cups white vinegar, add diapers, swish/agitate, soak. With vinegar you would not want to soak diapers often as it can/will break down elastic and PUL.
Q: How many cycles do I use to wash cloth diapers?
A: 2 1/2. Prewash is a full cycle. Wash. Reset to rinse only.
Q: Do I dry the cloth diapers on high?
A: Yes. Up until recently I have always dried everything in the dryer. However, I now lay shells on the couch to air dry and toss wet bags on the deep freeze in the garage/laundry room.
Q: Do I dry wet bags?
A: Not MFD because of the separate woven fabric but I will dry Rumparooz and Ragababe.
Washing cloth diapers doesn’t have to be hard. Often times many families are scared away from using cloth diapers just by the thoughts of washing them! Yes, there can be trials to work through but I’d guess that 99% of the time a solution can be found. I’ve had struggles and frustrations to the point of wanting to go with convenience. But, I kept at it and found a routine that worked.
Don’t beat yourself up if you have to buy a pack of disposable inserts or “healthy” disposables while you get rid of a nasty problem. It’s more important that you are not stressed out and calmly working through it.