Washing Cloth Diapers

I've been meaning to post about this anyway (I often get asked), so when I saw this question posited over at Green Baby Guide, I decided to finally write up what I do.  

Most of the time my washing routine looks like this:

  1. Toss dirty diaper in the diaper pail. I use a dry pail, no soaking diapers.  Covers only get washed if they smell horrendous or have poop on them.
  2. After 3-4 days, or when I notice we are down to one or two prefolds, dump diapers into washing machine.  This is the most unpleasant part of the entire routine.  Since I have a front loader, I can't just "dump" the diapers in really, so I use a latex glove to help them along into the washer.
  3. Usually, no rinse, because I usually have little to no poop on my diapers thanks to infant potty training.  If there is a lot of poop in a particular load, I might do a cold rinse first.  For more on how to handle poop with cloth diapers, read this post.
  4. Wash on normal cycle: wash warm, rinse cold.  I use Charlie's Soap Powder.  I used to wash in hot, but Green Baby Guide inspired me to switch to warm (they wash in cold, but I haven't made it there yet, for psychological reasons).
  5. Usually, no extra rinse either.  No pre-rinse, no post-rinse, just a normal wash cycle.
  6. Dry in the dryer or line dry.  I always line dry covers and synthetic inserts.

  • I make zero attempt to remove stains.
  • When the diapers seem really stinky, sometimes I add baking soda to the wash (with detergent) and vinegar to the rinse (put it in the "fabric softener" dispenser), and then do an extra rinse afterwards.  I also occasionally wash with no detergent on super hot to try to get out any residue.  When I say occasionally, I mean every 2 to 6 months. 

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Photo credit: Kurt Thomas Hunt

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