Diaper Care

Preparing Your Diapers New Diapers

  • Synthetic Fabrics and Covers (microfiber, suede cloth, & micro fleece)-Wash once in hot water with a small amount of detergent. Hang diapers/covers out to dry or dry in the dryer on warm.


  • Natural Fiber Fabrics (cotton, hemp, & bamboo)-These diapers still have their natural oils in them which need to be removed before the diaper will absorb. Wash 3-5 times in hot water with a small amount of detergent. Hang diapers out to dry or dry in the dryer on warm. These diapers will continue to gain absorbency with each wash until they have been washed about 10 times! DO NOT wash with synthetic fabrics while prepping. Only after prepping may you wash all your diapers together.


  • Cotton Prefolds-Wash 3-5 times in hot water with a small amount of detergent. Dry on HIGH heat between each wash for proper sizing, as prefolds will shrink considerably, "quilt-up", and become very soft during this process. Additional initial washings are required for ideal absorbency in unbleached prefolds. Natural prefolds will continue in absorbency until they reach their maximum absorbency after about 8 washes. DO NOT wash with synthetic fabrics while prepping. Only after prepping may you wash all your diapers together.


Washing Your Diapers

1.   Shake off solids into toilet, or use diaper sprayer to remove as much poop as possible.  If using a disposable liner, dispose of it in the toilet or throw away after shaking solids into the toilet.  Exclusively breastfed poop is water soluble and does not need to be rinsed before washing.

2.   Remove inserts, and toss in your diaper pail or wet bag. 

3.   Every 2-3 days dump everything (diapers, inserts, cloth wipes, and pail liner/wet bag) in the washer.

4.   Use the prewash cycle or do a cold-water rinse on the highest water level.

5.   *Wash diapers on warm or hot on an extended cycle at the highest water level with an appropriate detergent (see discussion below).  3-5 drops of tea tree oil can be added to the wash cycle.  Tea tree oil is an anti-bacterial that will kill the bacteria which can cause your diapers to haven an ammonia smell.

6.   Run an extra rinse.

* These are general guidelines for washing.  Always consult the washing and drying instructions that come with your diaper.  If you are uncertain about washing instructions for a specific diaper, consult the manufacturer's website or contact me and I will look into it for you.

DO NOT use bleach or fabric softener!  Bleach can break down the PUL and elastic in your diapers and is very harsh on the fabric.  Fabric softener leaves a water-repelling residue on your diapers which cause them to leak.  If you need to brighten up your diapers or remove stains, you can periodically use an oxygen booster.  You will want one that does not have any additives such as OxoBrite or OxyClean Baby.  I recommend sunning your diaper to remove stains.  The sun will bleach clean the stains and help kill bacteria.  Even in the cold, as long as the sun is shining, it works!


Front Loaders can sometimes be problematic for washing diapers.  But, they can be used successfully!  Below you will find some tips from Front Loader trial and error.

  • If you have control of the water level, fill it higher than the load size as the "extra water" setting.  Many front loaders won't let you do this, they automatically adjust the water level, but if you can adjust it higher, it will work better.
  • Use HE detergent.  HE detergents are made to rinse out easier and the fewer suds the better. 
  • Use a little more detergent than you would in a top loader.  Not extra, but just closer to what you would use in a regular clothing load of the same size.  Rockin Green has instructions for use with and HE machine.
  • If you have an extra rinse cycle you can use at the end, do so.

Drying Your Diapers

Most diapers can be dried n the dryer, but I line-dry mine as often as I can.  In addition to the benefit of the sun naturally bleaching out stains, air-drying causes less wear and tear on the diapers.  I usually hang my diapers on drying racks to be set out on the deck (this works great for cold winter days when I don't want to make trips to and from the clothes line) or hang them on the clothes line if there is room.  Once the diapers are almost dry, I bring them in and throw them in the dryer for a short air fluff.  This helps to keep them soft.  If you are unable to dry you diapers and covers outside, make sure you read the manufactures drying instructions for the recommended heat level.

If you notice your PUL diapers are starting to leak badly, and you know they don't need to be stripped, you should throw them in the dryer for a bit, the heat will re-seal the PUL.


Stripping Your Diapers

"Stripping" is the process of removing detergent build-up from your diapers.  This residue can cause repelling, persistent odor problems, or rashes.

1.    Begin with clean diapers, and put the diapers, detergent, tea tree oil (optional), and oxygen booster (optional), and HOT water in the washer. 

2.    You can allow the machine to agitate a few times and then stop the cycle to allow it to soak before finishing the cycle. 

3.    After the initial wash, run just the wash cycle (NO SOAP) over and over until all/most of the bubbles are gone.  Then finish the rest of the cycles. 

It is best if you discontinue use of the soap that caused the buildup. 



There is some disagreement as to the necessity of using a cloth diaper safe detergent. In fact, each person, website, or manufacturer you ask is likely to have a variety of opinions.  Not only on the type of detergent to use, but also your washing routine.  You must become your own expert.  The end result has as much to do with the way your washing machine works as it does with the kind of detergent you use.  In general, it is recommended that you use an enzyme-free, dye-free, softener-free detergent.  While the argument has been made that enzymes eat away at stains and will rinse out if you are washing in hot water, many choose to use detergents that have been formulated specifically for cloth diapers.  Listed below you will find a list of some of the detergents used and recommended by cloth diapering parents.  Personally, I am a fan of Rockin Green.  If you have a detergent you love, feel free to contact me and I will look into carrying it. 

  • EcoNuts-a favorite alternative to detergent for diapers AND everyday laundry.
  • Rockin Green Soap
  • Crunchy Clean
  • Country Save Country Save Liquid and Powder
  • Allen's Naturally Powdered and Liquid Laundry Detergents
  • Sun Free *Many moms have expressed satisfaction with this detergent.
  • Maggie's Soap Nuts Maggie's Soap Nuts  *100% natural - Grows on Trees!!!


For other detergent options, check out www.diaperpin.com

For more information on using detergents with enzymes, check out http://www.kanga-care.com/Cloth-Diaper-FAQ_ep_42-1.html#howto



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