Washing Cloth Diapers

April 2, 2008

Washing Cloth Diapers

When considering cloth diapers, the washing routine can lead new parents to feel overwhelmed. The assumption is that cloth diapers add extra time, energy and water. However, this is not the case.

Washing cloth diapers is no different than doing a load of dirty underwear :) On my quest to find a very detailed washing video, I came across this short and simple video. I chose this video, not because of the way too cute baby at the end, but because it demonstrates how easy it is to wash cloth diapers.

What are some tips or tricks you have for washing your cloth diapers? Leave your comments below.

Washing Cloth Diapers


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

30 Responses to “Washing Cloth Diapers”

  1. Julie Holland Says:

    For us the soap nuts left odors on the diapers. I used both the liquid extract and the soap nuts (had two samples sent to me, one of each kind). We have super hard well water. Allen’s Naturally is the only detergent that works consistently for us. I use 2 teaspoons per load so a quart lasts forever. Planet worked ok for us, but still caused stink issues after a couple of washes.

    I do not use Charlies and will not recommend it to customers due to so many stories of scarring burns from it. I know some people swear by it, but when other detergents work, why risk it? Allen’s is all natural too.

    Poop was not an issue even when my daughter was transitioning to formula and first starting solids. However, now that she is 100 percent formula fed and eating 1/2-1 cup of baby food a day, I shake off anything I can into the toilet. A diaper sprayer rinses off runny poop easily.


  2. Autumn Beck Says:

    Stella, any dish detergent that touts itself as a “grease buster” will do the job.

    Lisa, when the poop is more solid is when I start flushing. Even in the beginning when starting solids it won’t be fully solid. OT, I wouldn’t start out with anything grainy. Your baby may still become constipated but less likely with veggies.


  3. Lisa Says:

    My son is almost 5 months. We are looking to start cereal in a couple weeks. We have been cloth diapering from birth, so I am only familiar with breatfed poop. Will I have to start rinsing diapers as soon as I start cereal? When will his poop change so that diapers can no longer be dropped into the washer?


  4. stella Says:

    thank you for this wonderful blog!
    I live in greece and i m trying cloth diapering though it is somewhat difficult in this country.. I ve ordered nearly two dozens of pocket cds and i m happy with them.. My only problem is that the water in the island we live is HARD!! We ve had some stinkin issues but when i washed the cloth diapers in the HOT circle (95 celcius = 203 fahrenheit) i stopped having problems. Now i see some repelling fleece and i’m a bit dissapointed..
    Is it ok for the pocket diapers to be washed in such a hot temperature? should i switch to a lower temp again?
    Here in greece i cannot find products such as Dawn for stripping. Should i try normal dish washing liquid instead?

    Thank you in advance!


  5. Autumn Beck Says:

    Kate, what a great idea! Especially if you have some diapers that need a little soaking.


  6. Autumn Beck Says:

    AJ, my course of action is always if in doubt don’t use it. I too have heard the horror stories about Charlies and my baby has sensitive skin. Therefore, I have not and won’t be using Charlies. That’s not to say that hundreds of mamas aren’t happy with it. But if you are looking for a healthy, gentle detergent I have heard Ecover is an excellent choice. Ecover also makes a fabric softener that is safe to use on cloth diapers. You can buy Ecover at health food stores. Hope that helps! I have many pages devoted just to washing in my new book The Ultimate Guide to Cloth Diapers if you need more help.


  7. AJ Says:

    HELP! Someone told me to use Charlies Powdered laundry soap but I found one site that said never use laundry soap and one that says taht Charlies has been linked to some babies having severe skin reactions. My baby is super sensitive (we switched to cloth because he is allergic to disposables). Should I try the Charlies? I hate getting mixed messages.


  8. Kate Says:

    We have a washer that has a soak cycle so I just run that with the lid open (so it doesn’t finish the cycle…yet) and toss diapers in all day. Then at the end of the day I close the lid and let it finish it’s job. Afterwards I do a heavy-duty wash cycle using a tablespoon of Charlie’s powdered laundry soap. Works great, very limited staining, and minimal work. We don’t even have a diaper pail, and I keep up with the diaper loads because we only have about 18 cloth diapers.


  9. Autumn Beck Says:

    Well I received my Soap Nuts and gave them a try. I really like the idea of using something so natural but it is hard to tell if it got the job done. The load of diapers that I tried it with were all pee diapers. Had there been poop I would have been able to actually see if Soap Nuts worked. I did have to run the cycle twice though. After the first time I smelled the diapers and could still smell urine. Also the little bag you put the Soap Nuts in did not stay closed-no matter how tight a knot I made. I will try another load but I don’t forsee a permanent change.


  10. Autumn Beck Says:

    Thanks for reminding me. I should get them any day now. I will definitely let you know how they work.


  11. Melisa Carter Says:

    So have you gotten the soapnuts? What do you think? I like them for regular laundry, but not sure about diapers. Maybe I need to tweak it a little.


  12. Autumn Beck Says:

    Okay I just went on Amazon and bought a trial pack of Maggies soap nuts. I can’t wait to try them out!


  13. Autumn Beck Says:

    Here is a fellow diaperswappers mama’s store that sells Soapnuts (she’s in Canada though):
    (~72 loads for $15.95)

    I also found this site http://www.maggiespureland.com/shop.html
    (36-50 loads for $18.99)

    I’d say go with the Canadian store even if it takes longer to get to the US.


  14. Jenn Ruse Says:

    Soapnuts?….I’m from Texas, live in Oklahoma, and have never heard of Soapnuts. I’m dying to know about this.

    BTW: I washed the Wonderwoks AIOs in HOT water (AGAIN!!!) w/ Seventh Gen. Free & Clear, but a little more than previously. Then ran a Hot wash/Cold rinse without soap over & over until there were no suds. It took ALL DAY, but…after seven, YES SEVEN full washer cycles they are now working just fine. So much for energy savings on those; but they will be too small for ds quite soon. Sigh…just couldn’t bring myself to sell them if they weren’t working. KWIM? And whatever gave you the idea that I’m stubborn-sistant?


  15. Melisa Carter Says:

    Ok… (You crazy Texas woman!) So what does Texas have to do with soap? Just kidding! Anyway, I like the soap nuts. Bought them once when I was in one of those shopping sprees in a health food store, but would love to find a cheaper way to buy them. Anyone know of a co-op available for them?


  16. Autumn Beck Says:

    I really need to get some Charlie’s Soap myself! I’m going back and forth between that and Soapnuts. I just read today that soaking the diapers in Oxyclean can help with stink and of course stains.

    Diaper-sickles, LOL!

    I love Texas!


  17. Rebecca Says:

    Autumn, I love your blog! I found it after you visited my blog on my Charlie’s Soap post. I don’t know how you found my blog, but I’m glad you did! I check it often now.

    I wanted to tell Heidi who commented just before me that I have used bumGenius 2.0’s with 27 month-old since she was 20 months old (I’m a late-blooming CD’er.) I also have a few 3.0’s that I use for both my toddler and my baby daughter (5 months.) I use Charlie’s Soap and I wash every other day. I do a rinse cycle with cold water and white vinegar, then I do a hot wash/cold rinse with 1 Tablespoon of Charlie’s Soap laundry powder (it’s all-natural!) Then I dry on high heat in the dryer. I also have quite a few prefolds, Thirsties fitteds, and Kissaluvs fitteds; as well as Thirsties and Bummis covers. My daughters’ diapers did not smell badly before, but they didn’t smell “clean,” either, and now they do.

    I will definitely be line-drying when the weather is warmer (I live in southeast Michigan, line-drying now would result in diaper-sickles.) But even without line drying, both my daughters’ bumGenius diapers, both 2.0 and 3.0, are coming out perfectly clean, just like brand-new. :-) I hope that helps.


  18. Autumn Beck Says:

    Jenn! bummer! This predicament you are in is something that so many moms struggle with and unfortunately they give up way before us stubborn…ahem, persistent…mamas! I am currently working on a project that will lay out the step by step details on issues like this.

    I would first make sure that you are using enough detergent. I know sounds backwards but sometimes we go overboard with limiting detergent when really they need a good cleaning.


  19. Autumn Beck Says:

    Hi, Autumn. I empty the bag then drop it in there to wash it as well. If your baby is not yet eating solids then there is no need to take extra steps by dunking it in the toilet. Once the poop becomes more solid, drop it in the toilet before placing it in the pail. Dreft is NOT okay to use with diapers because it contains fabric softeners. Fabric softener makes your diapers REPEL. This is not a good thing, as you want your diapers to ABSORB. If you have any more questions feel free to ask!


  20. Autumn K. Says:

    Ok, so I have not yet started to CD, but am seriously considering so have been doing a lot of research. In that video, did she put the whole bag in? Shouldn’t you empty them out of the bag so they get washed better? Also, this may be obvious to some, but what do you do with the poop? Do you just leave it on the diaper and wash until it gets more solid? And lastly, is it ok to use Dreft to wash them with?


  21. Jenn Ruse Says:

    TOTALLY bals up & rolls off!! So what do I do? Strip them again? I’ve heard using Dawn in the dishwasher will work, but how in the world do you do that??!!?? What about boiling them? They are wonderworks & the tag says “wash hot” so would that be an option? I think I’ve done TOO MUCH research; I’ve found every way possible to strip dipes, so I don’t know which one to try!


  22. Autumn Beck Says:

    Jenn, when you hold the diaper in your hand and pour water on it does it ball up and roll off? Or how about if you take an eye dropper and make a fast squirt of water on the diaper, does it absorb? In #1 if the answer is yes then you are having repelling issues which should have been remedied by the stripping you performed. In #2, this can represent the type of “pee-er” your baby is. Some materials cannot absorb a fast stream, like hemp. Others like microfiber absorb very quick. Pee has to sit on top of hemp for a bit for it to absorb. Start by doing these experiments to find out what “not absorbing at all” means.

    Michelle Dawn, I’d love to be a guest :)


  23. Michelle Dawn Says:

    Thanks for the info Autumn!

    I’m looking for guest bloggers on my blog and I’d love to get in contact with you via email, but I don’t see an email address on your site… Could you let me know how I can get in contact? Thanks :)


  24. Jenn Ruse Says:

    Okay, now a question: I bought some used AIOs that I am having a really tough time with. They don’t seem to absorb AT ALL! I have washed in the washer w/Dawn and rinsed, rinsed, rinsed until there was no soap, but still have the problem. Also tried bleach w/ same result and a faded red diaper (only the red, though). Any thoughts?


  25. Autumn Beck Says:

    My vote is CLOSED lol! I am not brave enough to try open lid.

    As far as detergent type, I think if it’s working for you don’t change it. If your baby isn’t having rashes and the diapers aren’t having issues then there is no need to change just because “they” say not to.


  26. Melisa Carter Says:

    P.S. What about the Free n Clear thing? I have used it at times in the past, though am not right now. I’ve heard not to use it. How do you know you shouldn’t be? What do I do if I’ve used it? Stripping?


  27. Melisa Carter Says:

    So what is yal’s verdict??? Open or closed pail? Looks like this lady just hangs it on the door, but I think my hubby would complain before 3 days were up. I currently have a closed pail, but have left it open by accident and actually had less pee smell than with it closed.


  28. Autumn Beck Says:

    Great comments! Michelle Dawn, I’ll answer from my personal experience. Depending on what type of washer you have, you can do it different ways. My new to me washer has a prewash. If I have soiled diapers I will run that. Then I will add my detergent and run the normal cycle. Because I have soft water, the detergent likes to hang around :( So I will run the 2nd rinse cycle that my washer has. If you don’t have a 2nd rinse simple twist the knob back around to rinse. You may only need to do this if you have soft water or are having buildup issues.


  29. Michelle Dawn Says:

    Am I correct that she put the same diapers through the complete wash cycle twice? Once without soap and once with soap? I’m expecting my first baby any day and we are using cloth!


  30. Jenn Ruse Says:

    You can save even more energy by line drying, and the sun will help remove stains! If the “crunchiness” bothers you (it certainly doesn’t seem to bother my DS), you can throw them in the dryer for 10 minutes with a damp towel. Line drying my cloth dipes has led to me line drying ALL my laundry!


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