Recently we switched our son to cloth diapers and started a cloth diaper wash routine–and it has been a surprisingly good experience.
In the last month, we’ve found many benefits of using cloth diapers vs disposable diapers.
While both cloth and disposables have their pros and cons, I was surprised to find that washing our cloth diapers has not been as big a “con” as I had previously believed.
We primarily switched to save money, and I honestly thought having to wash diapers would just be a necessary evil in order to do that.
But, in the last few weeks, I’ve found my cloth diaper wash routine to be simple and easy, much to my pleasant surprise.
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My Easy Cloth Diaper Wash Routine
Before I get into the details of my cloth diaper wash routine, I want to note that you should always follow the wash instructions that come with your diapers. This will help them to last long and allow them to function well.
If you purchase more than one brand of cloth diaper (like I did), be sure to get ones with similar (if not exactly the same) wash instructions, so that they could all be washed together.
That way my cloth diaper wash routine stays the same regardless of the two different brands we have.
1. Take Care of Solids
The first part of my cloth diaper wash routine is to dump solids into the toilet immediately after a diaper change.
When we made the switch to cloth diapers, our son was already one year old and having consistently solid bowel movements. At this stage, it’s very easy to dump the solids into the toilet.
If your baby is younger and not eating solid foods, his/her poop will probably not be very solid yet. In this case, you may get a diaper sprayer and splash shield to spray off as much poop as possible before storing in your diaper pail.
2. Wrap/Fold and Store in Dry Diaper Pail
After dumping any solids into the toilet, I like to roll up our cloth diapers just as you would a disposable.
I like that our Nora’s Nursery diapers have snaps that allow us to snap the diaper so that it stays rolled. Just like using the sticky tabs of a disposable to keep it rolled up.
We then store the dirty diapers in a regular trash can with this reusable liner.
Eventually I’d like to get an Ubbi diaper pail, but for now our regular trash can works.
3. Remove Inserts & Dump in Laundry
I typically wash diapers every 3-4 days. Since our son is older, he doesn’t go through as many diapers per day as a younger baby. Because of this, it takes a few days to have enough to do a load.
We also use disposable diapers most of the day on Sunday, because we spend the majority of the day at church where he plays in the nursery.
When wash day rolls around, I take the diapers out of the reusable wash bag. At this point I remove the bamboo inserts before washing.
You can also remove the inserts from the pocket and lay them inside the diaper when you change your baby. Removing them right before putting them into the laundry is just what works for me. Do whatever is easiest for you!
Despite having a front loading washing machine, it’s pretty quick and easy to unroll the diapers and remove the inserts before tossing them in. We also wash our reusable bamboo baby wipes with our diapers.
4. Pre-rinse in Cold or Warm
Once all the diapers are loaded, I start with a cold pre-rinse.
Some diaper wash instructions tell you to pre-rinse in warm water, and if that’s what your diapers say, do that. Our diapers said to use cold water, so that’s what I start with.
Sometimes if there were a lot of soiled diapers I’ll run the pre-rinse twice.
The purpose of this pre-rinse is to get as much pee and poo as possible out of the diapers before washing.
5. Wash on Warm or Hot with an Extra Rinse
Next, I wash our diapers on a warm/warm cycle on the highest soil level.
I don’t use our single hot setting because the diapers we have shouldn’t be washed in temperatures higher than 115 Fahrenheit, and I don’t know for sure how hot our hot cycle gets (we got it used, so I don’t have the original instructions or box).
So to be safe I use the highest warm/warm setting.
EDIT: I eventually got brave and tried the hot setting–they came out fine. So I now use the hot water setting instead.
During the wash cycle, I use a regular amount of Xtra laundry detergent. While it’s not the best detergent for cloth diapers, it is one of the diaper safe and recommended detergents on the Detergent Index.
Since it’s the detergent I usually use for washing our clothes, we decided to stick with it for our diapers too. So far it’s working well!
Note: If you have a front loading washer, you’ll want to be sure to wash with a full load or add in other clothes or towels after your initial rinse to ensure there is enough for everything to get clean. You can learn more about washing with a front loader in this comprehensive article.
6. Extra Rinse
On my washing machine’s settings I do have the option to add on an extra rinse to the washing cycle, which I do use when I wash the diapers.
Additionally, when the washing/rinsing cycle is done, I do like to do an extra rinse in cold water.
Since cloth diapers are not very heavy and I wash them in warm water, there does tend to be a lot of bubbles in the machine. For this reason I like to do a second extra rinse after the cloth diapers have been washed.
Cold water does not make bubbles a ton of bubbles like warm water does. Rinsing in cold water helps to break up and completely rinse out any bubbles that got missed in the washing cycle.
7. Dry on Low Heat
Next, I switch the cloth diapers and cloth wipes over to the dryer and dry them on low heat.
Depending on the type and brand of diapers you use, you may need to hang dry them.
Definitely check your diaper’s washing instructions before drying to avoid damaging them.
Thankfully the cloth diapers we use are safe to be dried on low heat, making our cloth diaper wash routine quicker and easier at the end!
8. Fold and Store
Last but not least, I always fold the shells and inserts of our diapers before putting them away.
How you fold and store them is up to you.
Personally, I like to fold the outer shells and the inserts separately. For us, it seems like they fit into the dresser drawer better that way.
But you can also stuff the inserts into the shells before folding and storing them. That way you can just grab one and go when you need to change a diaper.
Do You Have A Cloth Diaper Wash Routine?
That concludes my normal cloth diaper wash routine! For me it’s pretty simple and straightforward, and doesn’t take a lot of time and effort to do.
I personally think it’s worth the savings and benefits of using cloth diapers.
Do you use cloth diapers? If so, do you find the washing routine to be easy, or do you struggle with it? Let me know in the comments below–I’d love to hear from you!