When I started cloth diapering my son at four months old, cloth diapers were entirely new to me. I had no one around me to ask questions about cloth diapering, so I dove into Google and Facebook groups looking for information and answers to my plethora of questions. My biggest question was how to clean my baby's cloth diapers.
There is so much information out there revolving around how to wash your modern cloth diapers. From the detergents you should use, how many washes, the size of loads, how they should be dried, how stains should be dealt with, and many more opinions. With so many differing opinions about the right way to wash cloth diapers, it can be overwhelming! But really, washing your diapers doesn’t need to be that hard.
It doesn’t take filling out a worksheet and measuring your washing machine—like some Facebook groups would lead you to believe. Everyone’s wash cycles are different. Heck, mine has changed several times over the last couple of years. The best thing you can do is start small with your detergent. You can always add more if needed. And really, you just need to wash a few loads and sniff to make sure no odors are lingering.
At Kinder, we recommend starting with about 1-2 tablespoons of detergent. You can always rewash and add more. It is much harder to deal with detergent build up from using too much detergent.
I have gotten some of the best advice by asking for help from my fellow cloth diapering parents. It is such a great community of people who are willing to help—washing-related or not. We want you to be successful in your cloth diapering journey.
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While all that advice can be a lot to process, the best thing to do is to use what you like and pass over the advice that you don’t. I have gotten all sorts of contradictory advice when it comes to washing routines. Some advice has even gotten me out of times where I felt like giving up. I have had detergent buildup problems from adding too much detergent to my washing cycles to not getting diapers clean enough from not using enough detergent. Some advice gave me problems, and some got me out of them.
Washing your cloth diapers isn’t really one size fits all. Truthfully, there are so many ways to wash your cloth diapers; it’s about finding what works for you. So go out there and ask questions. Research and read articles. Take notes and try things out.
To save you some time, here are my basics for washing my baby's cloth diapers.
- Unless you are exclusively breast or chest feeding, dispose of solid waste from diapers before washing.
- Once you are ready to wash, do a pre-wash. Some people add detergent. (I personally don’t.)
- Then you have your main wash with detergent.
- I run one final wash cycle with no detergent as an extra rinse. I just started doing that third wash through trial and error.
You can dry your diapers by hanging them or by using the dryer. I have done both. You just want to make sure that when washing and drying, your water and dryer settings aren’t too hot so as not to ruin the PUL on your diapers.
Is your water too hot? A good rule of thumb is to keep the water below 100F when washing cloth diapers that are lined with a PUL or TPU water resistant barrier.
Washing cloth diapers is truly a learning experience, but it doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Everyone's going to have different opinions on wash routines, but as long as yours works for your family and your diapers are clean, you’re doing it right!