Cloth Diapers: Care and Washing
Your extra effort will be justified by the fact that you are doing what is best for the health of your
baby, the environment and it saves you money.
If you have chosen cloth diaper for your baby, here are a few things about the use and care for your
diapers. These tips help you ensure that your cloth diapers will last a long time.
Getting Used to Cloth
All-in-ones (AIO's) and pocket diapers are nearly as easy to use
Today's cloth diapers are designed to work for today's families. All-in-
ones (AIO's) and pocket diapers are nearly as easy to use as
disposables and traditional pre-folds work great under a well-
designed diaper cover. No matter which cloth diaper style or
combination of styles you use proper care for your cloth diapers will
keep them leak-free and in great working condition for years to come.
As Easy as Learning to Recycle
It is important to separate a wet or dirty diaper from its cover or un-stuff a pocket diaper after use.
In the case of AIOs, separation is not an option unless the cloth diaper comes with snap-in soaker
pads. AIOs and pocket diapers need to be washed after each use, but diaper covers can be air dried
and re-used until they are smelly or dirty. Store your dirty covers or pocket diapers in a washable
An in-washer soaking or an extra wash cycle will help get diapers clean.
You can also store used diapers and inserts in a covered diaper pail (a
small garbage can with a lid works well) without any water or soaking
solution. Soaking dirty diapers is not recommended. An in-washer
soaking or an extra wash cycle will help get diapers clean. If you use cloth
wipes, store used ones in the pail or wet bag along with the diapers.
If your baby is exclusively breastfeeding, you do not need to rinse or
dunk your used diapers before they are stored in the pail. In the case of a
solid-fed baby, first shake or scrape contents into the toilet and flush. When dealing with an extra-
messy diaper you can, though not necessary, follow with a quick rinse in the toilet or use a diaper
sprayer. Flushable biodegradable diaper liners are excellent for use in this area.
Washing Cloth Diapers
Though cloth diapers these days are user-friendly, you still need to wash them. Once you get used to
your washing routine, it won't seem like too much extra work. Your extra effort will be justified by
the fact that you are doing what is best for the health of your baby, the environment and it saves
Cloth diapers should be washed once every three or four days. On wash day, first run a cold water
cycle with a very small amount of clean-rinsing detergent and lots of water. Follow with a warm
water cycle – again adding just a small amount of detergent. This is a general wash routine – always
follow the washing instructions for the diapers you have. If you have a front loader, do smaller loads
if possible and you may need to wash using an extra cycle. Top loaders are better for cloth diapers.
Your laundry detergent for cloth diapers should not only be free of dyes, perfumes and
phosphates but should also be clean-rinsing.
Your laundry detergent should not only be free of dyes, perfumes and phosphates but should also be
clean-rinsing. Any detergent residue remaining on your baby diapers
can repel liquid (causing leaks) or lead to lingering smells. Adding too
much detergent to your load can also cause these problems. Finding a
clean-rinsing detergent is harder than you think as most free-and-
clear varieties have additional ingredients, such as softeners or
brighteners that can cause a build-up of residue.
If your cloth diapers seem to have a detergent residue build-up, wash
your baby cloth diapers with the warmest water recommended
without adding any additional detergent. If you see bubbles in the
wash water, you have added too much detergent in previous loads.
Keep washing until the bubbles disappear and use less detergent next time.
When possible, use a clothesline to air-dry diapers in the sun.
Check the washing instruction for your cloth diapers to see if line-drying or tumble drying is
recommended. Exposure to higher temperatures may compromise the waterproofing ability of some
diapers and covers. When possible, use a clothesline to air-dry diapers in the sun. Not only will you
be saving energy, but the sunlight will naturally remove most staining.