Washing and Taking Care of Cloth Diapers
Baby Talk

Washing and Taking Care of Cloth Diapers

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Welcome to the 3rd installment of my cloth diaper series: Washing and Taking Care of Cloth Diapers. If you haven’t yet, be sure to check out all my cloth diaper posts!

Cloth Diaper Awareness: Why I Chose to Cloth Diaper and Types of Diapers

Prepping and Putting Cloth Diapers On Your Baby

Washing and Taking Care of Cloth Diapers: My Routine (You’re Here!)

So, we have bought the cloth diapers, prepped them and put them on our baby. Now, they are dirty and it is time to take them off and clean them! Most people think this is the more unsavory part of cloth diapers, but it’s not that bad! It only takes a few extra minutes a day.

At the Changing Table

Removing the wet or dirty diaper is not any more difficult than a disposable diaper. I put Mia up on her changing pad and take off the diaper. I will use a wet wipe or a reusable wipe to clean her off if she is dirty. It really depends on what kind of mood I am in on which one I use. The cloth aren’t my favorite because I have to spray them with water before I use them to clean her off. Then, I put a new diaper on her.

When she is all ready to go, I place her on the floor and take her diaper into the bathroom to be stored until wash day.

Storing Dirty and Wet Diapers

store dirty cloth diapers in a trash canWhen it comes to storing wet diapers, it is actually a little surprising. Instead of closing them up in a container, they store better in a vented or open receptacle. Air flow helps reduce the smell.

We store Mia’s diapers in a regular $7 trashcan from Walmart that is lined with a $1 laundry bag. It is located right next to the toilet in the bathroom. The trash can has a lid so it can be closed when company is over or if Mia is in the bathroom. I really like that when the lid is closed, I can easily open it buy pushing on the grey handle with my foot. At that time, my hands tend to be full of dirty diaper and possibly a baby! I also put an air freshener on the lid because, Hey! It couldn’t hurt!

There are also other options that may work better for other families such as a diaper pail or a hanging wet bag. Check out this video to see more options and how they can be used. I do have small wet bags that I use in the diaper bag when we travel.

Rinsing Cloth Diapers

If the diaper is just wet, I remove the insert and place both parts in the can. If they are dirty, there are a few more steps in the process!

First, I take it to the bathroom and lift the toilet seat and open the diaper can. I throw away any wipes that are disposable. If I used cloth wipes and they have poo on them, I swish them in the toilet to rinse them and then place them in the diaper pail. After that, I remove the insert from the diaper and place it in the can. I then grab the four corners of the cover so that the inside is facing out. Next, I dunk it in the toilet and swish it around to remove the poo. When finished, I wring out the cover (by grabbing the outside!) and place it in the can and flush the toilet. Then I wash my hands. (Usually twice!)

The thought of this gross you out? There are also diaper sprayers that you can buy and attach to your toilet water intake. Instead of dunking and swishing, you spray the poo off and into the toilet. From what I have read however, you also want a spray shield so the mess doesn’t go everywhere else too!

There are DIY ways you can make these items too if you so desire! Here are just two tutorials: Diaper Sprayer DIY and Spray Shield DIY.

I have also tried to use a peri bottle that you get from the hospital, but that just doesn’t have enough power to get the diaper totally rinsed off. I used the whole bottle on half a diaper! But, it could be used in combination with other methods.

Washing Cloth Diapers

And finally, it’s time to wash your cloth diapers. I wash mine about every 2 to 3 days, which is the recommended time. Too long and they can get super stinky and smelly!

I have a top load washer with an agitator. If you have a front loader, your steps will be a little different from mine!

First throw them into the washing machine and do a rinse cycle on cold water.  My washer’s control panel is labeled Pre-Wash. Some people throw some soap in at this point, but I do not. The important part is that your load is on the right size. You want to use a small or medium load depending on how many diapers you have. I usually always use small. All the websites you read tell you to make sure it is at a stew consistency and not soupy. To me, that means something that looks like this:

washing cloth diapers in stew like consistency
Yuck! Dirty Rinse Water!

After the pre-wash is complete, I do a regular wash cycle using hot water with the same load size. Now is when I add soap, and about once every month or two I add some bleach. I use Gain Original Powder and fill the cup to line one and I still have this many bubbles:

washing and taking care of cloth diapers

Choosing a Detergent

There are many different kinds of detergent that can be used on cloth diapers. However, if you google “cloth diaper safe detergents,” you get a giant list of expensive, never heard of detergents. This seemed a little ridiculous because I know my grandmother didn’t have any of these options when she cloth diapered! Many of these detergents are put out by the cloth diaper companies to drum up more business. Other posts talked about making homemade detergent. This seemed like too much work and a little crazy too! (How would I know my detergent actually got the diapers clean??!)

Finally, I found some information about how Tide and Gain are recommended by some cloth diaper companies and I was like, “Yes! I can do this!” And finally, I found the Fluff Love University site where you can look up literally any detergent out there and see if it is cloth diaper safe! So check your detergent before you go buy something expensive. If it isn’t safe, I bet you can find a reasonable alternative!

I use Gain Powder:

Drying Cloth Diapers

When the wash cycle is complete, I hang the diapers outside on the clothesline to dry. I love hanging them up outside when I get the chance because the sun bleaches out all the poop stains and they stay nice and white! If I am in a super big hurry or it is raining outside, I put them in the dryer on low heat. High heat might mess up the PUL fabric or snaps.

Line drying cloth diapers with a smiling baby

Thank you for checking out my routine for washing and taking care of cloth diapers! However, remember this is MY washing routine. It will not work for every person or every washer. Your wash routine can differ given your water hardness and what kind of detergent you use. If you are looking into cloth diapering and want a specific wash routine to fit your machine, detergent, and water, check out Fluff Love University. They also have a Facebook group with admins that will give you a specific wash routine! Feel free to message me for more info about this!

Have any comments or suggestions? Please leave them below! I love hearing from my readers! Cloth diapering not for you? Feel free to express why! It is important to remember that parenting is personal choice and what works for one person will NOT work for everyone!

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