How to Properly Clean Cloth Diapers

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Home Improvement

While preparing for your baby’s arrival, you may wonder whether to use disposable or cloth diapers. If you’re considering cloth, you may be hesitant because of the cleaning process, but it’s easier than you may think.

Aside from buying car seats, baby strollers, nursery furniture, swaddle blankets, and bath products, you must also decide whether to use cloth or disposable diapers for your baby. While providing the best care for your little one, you also want to save money and make things easier for yourself and the environment. If you’re unsure about cleaning cloth diapers, don’t give up yet. There are two main ways to clean cloth diapers: the wet-pail and the dry-pail methods.

The wet-pail method involves placing all soiled diapers in a pail of water to soak before washing. You can add baking soda or essential oils to control odors, but ensure that the pail has a sealable lid to prevent drowning hazards for small children. The dry-pail method involves placing all soiled diapers in a pail without water. You can use a trashcan and a pail liner, or a doorknob diaper pail if you have limited space. You may also consider getting a diaper sprayer that hooks to your toilet to directly spray the solid waste off the diaper and into the commode.

Washing Routine for Cloth Diapers

When you purchase cloth diapers, wash them a few times in hot water to remove chemicals and increase their absorbency. Polyester diapers or microfiber inserts require only a single wash, while cotton and hemp diapers require five or six washes. Between washes, store your diapers according to the wet- or dry-pail method and use the diaper sprayer or shake the solid waste into the toilet. Additionally, stick the Velcro tabs to the sides of the diapers to prevent them from sticking together during the wash cycle.

When it’s time to wash dirty diapers, simply place them in the washing machine. You can use a pail liner to avoid touching them and push them into the machine from the bottom of the bag. It’s recommended to wash diapers every two to three days to prevent odors.

Using too much detergent can cause a buildup of residue and decrease the diapers’ absorbency. So, use a quarter to half of the amount you would use for a regular load of laundry. Also, choose a brand that’s free of dyes and other additives like bleach, which could cause rashes in babies with sensitive skin. If you prefer, soak the diapers for 20 minutes or send them through a cold prewash to loosen everything up. You can add baking soda or vinegar to the prewash for extra washing power and to eliminate odors. Wash the diapers in hot water with a cold rinse and send them through an extra rinse cycle to ensure all the detergent is gone. If you still see suds in your machine, run the diapers through another rinse cycle. You can either line dry them or put them in the dryer for about 60 minutes.

Remember to read the care label before cleaning as each cloth diaper is different, and you may have to use a different method depending on the fabric. With a little research, you’ll find the best fit for you and your family!

Saving Green by Going Green

You can save up to $1,500 to $2,000 in the first two and a half years of your baby’s life by using cloth diapers instead of disposables.

Related Articles

  • Solve the Diaper Dilemma: Safer Disposables
  • Solve the Diaper Dilemma: The Cloth Option
  • DIY Cloth Diapers
  • Make Your Own Cloth Diapers and Baby Wipes

More Great Links

  • Eco Mom
  • Real Diaper Association


  • Cloth Diapers Made Easy. “Cleaning Cloth Diapers.” 2011. (April 24, 2012)
  • Cloth Diapers Made Easy. “Stripping Cloth Diapers-Here is How to do it.” 2011. (April 24, 2012)
  • Green Mountain Diapers. “Washing Cloth Diapers.” 2012. (April 24, 2012)
  • Kelly’s Closet. “Cloth Diaper Information.” 2012. (April 25, 2012)
  • Nogar, Amy S. “Wash Cloth Diapers.” Zany Zebra Designs. 2011. (April 23, 2012)
  • Real Diaper Industry Association. “Guide to Washing Cloth Diapers.” 2012. (April 23, 2012)


1. What are cloth diapers?

Cloth diapers are reusable alternatives to disposable diapers. They are made of fabric and come in different styles such as prefolds, fitted, all-in-ones, and hybrids.

2. Why choose cloth diapers?

Parents choose cloth diapers for various reasons such as environmental concerns, cost-effectiveness, and health benefits. Cloth diapers can be reused for multiple children and save parents money in the long run. They also do not contain harmful chemicals found in disposable diapers.

3. How often should I change cloth diapers?

Cloth diapers should be changed every 2-3 hours or whenever they are soiled. Changing them frequently helps prevent leaks and ensures the baby’s comfort.

4. How do I store dirty cloth diapers?

Dirty cloth diapers should be stored in a dry pail or wet bag until wash day. It is important to rinse off any solid waste and use a diaper sprayer to remove any excess poop before storing.

5. How do I wash cloth diapers?

Cloth diapers should be washed in hot water with a detergent that is free of any additives or fabric softeners. They can be dried in a dryer or hung to dry.

6. How often should I wash cloth diapers?

Cloth diapers should be washed every 2-3 days to prevent odors and stains from setting in.

7. Can I use bleach on cloth diapers?

Bleach should be avoided as it can damage the fabric and cause premature wear and tear. Instead, use detergents that are specifically made for cloth diapers.

8. How do I get rid of diaper stains?

Diaper stains can be removed by sunning the diapers or using a stain remover specifically made for cloth diapers. Avoid using bleach or fabric softeners as they can cause discoloration and damage to the fabric.

9. How do I deal with diaper rash?

To prevent diaper rash, change the baby’s diaper frequently and use a diaper cream that is safe for cloth diapers. Avoid using creams or ointments that contain petroleum or zinc oxide as they can cause staining and repel moisture.

10. Can I use cloth diapers at night?

Cloth diapers can be used at night, but it is recommended to use a more absorbent diaper such as a fitted or all-in-one with additional inserts. It is also important to change the baby’s diaper before bedtime and use a diaper cream to prevent diaper rash.

11. How do I travel with cloth diapers?

When traveling with cloth diapers, bring a wet bag to store dirty diapers and bring enough clean diapers for the duration of the trip. If washing facilities are not available, consider using disposable inserts or a hybrid diaper system.

12. How do I choose the right cloth diaper for my baby?

The right cloth diaper for your baby depends on their size, age, and personal preference. It is recommended to try different types and brands to find the best fit and absorbency for your baby.

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