How to Wash Reusable Cloth Diapers at Home

Often, the part of cloth diapering that scares new parents and caregivers the most is washing soiled cloth diapers. If you google "how to wash cloth diapers" or "what do you do with the poop in cloth diapers" you may find yourself overwhelmed by the sheer volume of information available. Take a deep breath — it doesn't have to be complicated. Below, we've broken down the steps to help make washing and reusing modern cloth diapers more digestible and easier to understand.

Common Cloth Diapering Wash Related Questions

Storing Soiled Cloth Diapers until Wash Day

Soiled cloth diapers can be stored in water resistant wet bags between wash days. At Kinder, we offer large, zipper top style wet bags that are great at keeping in odors and moisture until wash day.

After removing the poop, you'll need to store the soiled cloth diapers until wash day. There are different storage methods you can consider, including an open air pail, a lidded cloth diaper pail, or a zipped hanging wet. bag to contain the smells. It's important to avoid letting the diapers sit for too long without washing to prevent stains and odors.

Shop Large Hanging Wet Bags »

What do you do with the poop when washing reusable diapers?

When cleaning modern reusable cloth diapers, the poop or solid soil removed before washing. There are many different methods for poo removal. Some of the most popular methods include:

  • Diaper Sprayer
  • Disposable Bamboo Diaper Liners
  • Dunk and Swish
  • Plop Method
  • Poop Spatula or Knife

More about Poop Removal Methods »

How many times per week should I wash my cloth diapers.

Most families will wash their reusable cloth diapers 2-3 times per week, or about once every 2-3 days.

Of the more than 575 cloth diapering families that we surveyed, 72% of them selected that they wash their soiled cloth diapers 2 or 3 times per week. About 5% of the survey respondents reported washing their cloth diapers daily.

A good wash routine can support washing anywhere from 1-7 times each week.

Additional factors like climate and budget may also impact the frequency with which you choose to wash.

How many diapers should I wash in one load?

The number of diapers you wash at one time will vary based on your lifestyle and wash routine.

Most families report washing around 20 diapers at once. This is typical of 2-3 days worth of cloth diaper laundry for an infant.

As your baby grows you may find that you can wash less often, with larger loads of cloth diaper laundry.

Do I need to remove breastfeed poop before washing?

No, exclusively breastfed or chestfed infant poop is water soluble and does not need to be rinsed before washing.

Why do my cloth diapers smell?

When cloth diapers have an odor even after being washed, it could be caused by a number of things, such as detergent buildup, hard water, urine residue, improper washing, and left-over particles of poop.

The most common types of odor on cloth diapers are ammonia and barnyard smell. Ammonia smell is caused by, you guess it, ammonia or leftover pee on the diapers. By contrast, barnyard smell is caused by poop, and diapers that are not getting clean enough, and it is usually more obvious when diapers are warm.

To avoid these smells, it is important to have a good wash routine, use the right amount of detergent, avoid fabric softeners and dryer sheets, and ensure that the diapers are getting cleaned enough.

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Do I need to Wash my Cloth Diapers Twice?

At Kinder, we recommend washing soiled cloth diapers twice. The first wash, a pre-wash, removes all excess soil to allow the main wash to thoroughly wash the dirty cloth diapers.

Some families use detergent in both cycles while other families find that they only need detergent in the main wash cycle.

Choosing a Cloth Diaper Friendly Laundry Detergent

Most readily available laundry detergents are cloth diaper safe. Things to avoid when choosing a laundry detergent for washing your baby's cloth diapers are strong fragrances, fabric softeners and homemade laundry soaps.

We surveyed over 575 cloth diapering families and here are the 10 most popular laundry detergents, in order of popularity.

  1. Tide, Powder (26%)
  2. All Free and Clear, Liquid (14%)
  3. Tide, Liquid (11%)
  4. Arm & Hammer, Liquid (4%)
  5. Seventh Generation, Liquid (3%)
  6. All Free Clear, Powder (3%)
  7. Dreft, Liquid (2.5%) *Note that here at Kinder, we typically advise against using Dreft as it does contain strong fragrances that can mask odor caused by washing errors.
  8. Molly's Suds (2.5%)
  9. Persil, Liquid (2.4%)
  10. Gain, Liquid (1.7%)

Tide powder is loved by many cloth diapering families because it is predictable and performs well in many different water hardness conditions.

Looking for an eco friendly or all natural detergent option? Consider Seventh Generation or Molly's Suds.