When I first starting cloth diapering my now 2 year old, one of the things I failed to research was how to wash my cloth diapers properly. After a few trial and errors, I finally came up with a method that worked for getting my cloth diapers clean and smelling good every time.
1. Washing Machines: Top Loaders VS HE Front Loaders
Top Loaders are great for washing cloth diapers because you don’t have to worry about the water lever, like you would with an HE front loading washing machine. HE front loading machines don’t use enough water when washing cloth diapers, unless you manually set it to the maximum water level. You can also get your HE front loader to add more water by adding a wet towel to your load, which will trick the machine into adding more water. Because I like to just skip that process altogether, I like to use my top loader to wash my cloth diapers.
2. Before You Use Your Diapers
The best way to get the most of your cloth diapers is by striping them of their natural oils before you use them. This allows your diapers to have maximum absorbency and no leaks. To strip the diapers, wash them in hot water with a small amount of detergent, and then rinse in hot water 2-4 times. Throw the diapers in the dryer and test their absorbency with 1/2 a cup of water. If the diaper repels the water, you need to wash them in hot water and rinse them again until it fully absorbs and passes the water test.
3. Preparing Dirty Diapers
After you changed your baby’s cloth diaper, remove any flushable liners and poop into the toilet. If you are breastfeeding, you can just rinse off the poop using a diaper sprayer. Place the diaper cover and insert separately into a cloth diaper pail until it’s time to do your washing. You should always wash your diapers every 2-3 days. I like to wash mine in small batches throughout the week, so I always have some handy.
4. Washing Your Cloth Diapers in a Top Loader
Throw all your cloth diapers into your washing machine and run an initial cold water rinse, without detergent. The cold water rinse removes any excess urine or breastfed poop from the diapers. After the cold water rinse, wash the diapers with hot water with a cloth-diaper safe detergent. Then, run a cold water rinse (I like to run 2 cold water rinses) to remove any build-up detergent and urine. After your diapers are clean, throw them in the dryer on low-heat or you can hang them outside to dry.
5. Problems You May Face
After your cloth diapers are washed and dry, they shouldn’t smell like urine or ammonia. If they do, then your diapers probably have built-up detergent which is keeping the urine from rinsing out properly. If that is the case, then you will need to strip your cloth diapers otherwise your baby may suffer from some diaper rashes. Use hot water to strip your diapers (no detergent) and run hot water rinses (4-6 times) until your diapers no longer smell of ammonia/urine. Then, wash your diapers regularly (hot water with detergent, and 1-2 cold water rinses) and then dry them normally.
Aly is the owner of Seventeen Sirens , a complilation of her journey as a new mom, as well as exciting product reviews and giveaways. She is a 21 year old part-time college student and full-time mother to 18 month old, Zach. She has been using cloth diapers on her son since he was born, and has loved every minute of it. Aly has been married to her husband for 3 years and lives in the heart of the Motor City in Michigan, where she enjoys being frugal and spending time with her family. Check out her main blog for more information.