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How to Wash Cloth Diapers + My Cloth Diaper Wash Routine

One of the biggest concerns when you start researching alternatives to disposable diapers is how to wash cloth diapers. It’s way easier than you think, especially when you follow these tips and develop your own cloth diaper wash routine!

After using cloth diapers for a total of 4 years, I’ve had plenty of experience in washing them. I’ve tried different cloth diaper wash routines, different types of cloth diaper detergents, different diapers – you name it, I’ve probably tried it!

I always tried to have enough cloth diapers in my stash to only have to wash them every 2-3 days. The number of diapers you’ll need varies depending on the age of your child [and how frequent you’ll be changing their diaper], but a good amount for daily use is 10-12 diapers. A stash of about 25-30 diapers will definitely get you through 2-3 days of regular washing.

While you might think that the more diapers you have, the longer you can go between washing, you don’t want to go more than 3 days because the longer your dirty diapers sit, the harder it will be to keep them clean. So I definitely recommend washing cloth diapers every other day to every 2 days.

Do cloth diapers really save you money?

Before we even get fully into how to wash cloth diapers, let’s address this first because once you read about how often you’ll be washing cloth, you might be left saying “Is it really worth all this trouble?”

YES! A resounding YES. YES YES YES! Convincing enough? Not only will you save thousands of dollars by using cloth diapers with just one child… imagine how much you’ll save if your stash lasts through 2-3 children!

Not only will you have amazing money savings, but chemical-free cloth diapers are much better for your baby and the environment. And by the end of this post, I bet you’ll realize that washing cloth diapers is actually not that hard at all!

How to Use Cloth Diapers at Home Storage

How to store diapers before you wash.

One of the most important steps in washing your diapers is actually the step before you wash them… how you store dirty cloth diapers. I always chose a dry diaper pail [and actually used a trash can with a lid and cloth diaper pail liner].

The pail liner makes washing day so easy because you simply empty the entire bag into your washer and throw the liner in the washer with your diapers.

I also always stress the importance of a diaper sprayer to cloth diapering families. They help keep your diapers clean, stain-free, and your cloth diaper pail from any unwanted smells. You can DIY a diaper sprayer like we did!

Best washer for cloth diapers

Top loader or front loader – I honestly don’t think it matters. Just use the washer you already have, but if you’re looking to buy a new washer and you plan on doing cloth diaper laundry, I’ll always recommend a front loading washing machine simply because of the energy savings they offer.

I’ve always washed my cloth diapers in a front loader and been happy with the results. Besides, I think the most important factor when washing cloth diapers isn’t the washing machine itself, but the detergent you use.

Best cloth diaper detergent

Using cloth diapers for over 4 years leaves lots of time to try different cloth diaper detergents. I actually started out making my own but after a few weeks of supposedly clean diapers that were still stinky, I knew that wasn’t working. I’ve even tried detergents made specifically for cloth diapers and had the same results.

That’s when I turned to a traditional detergent and never looked back. I started using Tide on my cloth diapers in 2013 and that’s when I finally found the solution for truly clean cloth diapers. While I opted for the regular Tide version 5 years ago, I am so excited to find a new detergent that will be another great choice for cloth diaper laundry.

Tide purclean™ is the first plant-based liquid laundry detergent that has the cleaning power that you expect and deserve from Tide… even in cold water!

  • Since so many of us Moms start cloth diapering to go more natural, you’re going to really love these:
    It’s the first 65% USDA certified plant-based detergent with the cleaning power of Tide and is a formula made with 100% renewable wind power electricity!
  • Tide purclean™ is made at a site that sends zero manufacturing waste to a landfill.
  • It is also formulated to be free of dyes, chlorine and phosphates.

Each recyclable bottle contains enough detergent for 48 loads and is HE formulated – perfect for those of us with front loading washing machines. I have been using the Honey Lavender scent and it’s quickly becoming an ultimate favorite, but Tide purclean™ is available in Unscented, if you prefer.

I’ve found that the detergent is clean rinsing, great at keeping fabrics including cloth diapers from fading, and hasn’t irritated anyone in my family – which says a lot since most of us have very sensitive skin.

Cloth Diaper Wash Routine

When you’re developing your own cloth diaper wash routine, be sure to follow care instructions on your specific diapers. This is the best routine that I’ve found works for us.

  1. Be sure to dump solids into toilet or use a diaper sprayer before storing in a diaper pail before wash day.
  2. When you’re ready to wash, dump all of your diapers + pail liner into washer.
  3. Do a cold water rinse.
  4. Use warmest water wash that meets care instructions. [Be VERY careful with Hot and Sanitize settings on your washer, which could cause delamination issues with your diapers].
  5. Choose wash cycle that provides most water possible (ex: Heavy Duty).
    – For extra soiled loads, prewash or pre-soak, extra rinse.
    – For persistent stains- you can actually pre-treat with liquid Tide purclean for 5 minutes.
  6. Follow care label for tumble drying or line drying – I always line dry my covers and put my inserts into the dryer. Learn even more information on cloth diapers and how to care for them.
Cloth Diaper Wash Routine

All of these things are so important for washing cloth diapers. Being sure to rinse solids, store them in appropriate containers, and using a good cloth diaper safe detergent is essential in how to wash cloth diapers. Believe me, you don’t want to struggle with stink issues and by following these tips – you won’t!

Deborah D

Saturday 13th of October 2018

This is really great information for those wishing to cloth diaper their baby.


Friday 29th of June 2018

I wish I would have done cloth diapers with my girls. I think it would have saved a lot more money and been so much better.