Washing Cloth Diapers

When you first buy cloth diapers, you think “This will be easy. Wash and use”. Or at least that’s what I thought. Especially when breastfeeding, and before solids are being consumed by your baby, the mess is hardly a problem. Yes, the color is a bit staining, but the smell is almost nil and with a high efficiency (HE) washing machine, I was sure I would not have problems.

My wonderful friend who lent us the Dri-line diapers, was smart to mention that we needed to buy special laundry soap, so the soap would not cling to the diapers and render them useless by making them repel liquid. I decided to buy the soap she used – Claudia’s Choice – and of course I bought the largest container, to save money! The advice was to pre-rinse with a cold cycle, then wash with hot/cold and use an extra rinse. This worked okay for the cotton Dri-line diapers, but not my new pocket diapers.

I started to notice some minor leakage with my new diapers. I then did a test by slowly pouring water onto the diaper, and I found my problem: the water was not absorbed but instead formed nice little balls on the surface. Good moisture wicking fleece! I then immediately went online to read about washing cloth diapers with an HE machine.

Lucky for me, many people have had this problem. The most likely culprit – fabric softener, which is a big No-No for cloth diapers. We don’t use fabric softener, but our tenants, who share our laundry room, do. I should really inform them about how horrible fabric softener is…anyway, I found two great suggestions. One to remedy the problem and the second to prevent it in the future.

To remedy, you must wash diapers with original blue Dawn liquid dish washing soap. If you have a top loading washing machine, you can slowly add a few drops until the diapers and water have made a nice bubbly concoction, being careful to not be too bubbly. But in a HE machine, it’s possible to void your warranty by using bubbly soap. So, I hand soaked and “agitated” them in our bath tub. Rinsed, then awkwardly carried them down to the washing machine for the rest of the washing/rinsing. I should also add, the diapers must be clean before you use the Dawn soap.

To prevent this wicking, simply remove the soap/bleach/fabric softener compartment, and rinse thoroughly! Who would have thought! I have also started washing a load of regular clothes first, to make sure water has been through the whole system, and rinsed it thoroughly.

Now here is a compilation of all the various washing routines people had posted to get diapers clean and fresh smelling, particularly when using a HE machine. First, do a cold/cold rinse to get rid of the solid parts and prevent more staining. I do a rinse and spin quick cycle (to rinse), then a cold cycle without spin to make sure my diapers are nice and wet prior to washing (to soak). In a top loading washer, you can soak them more easily. Next, I use an 1/8 scoop detergent for the full load (I only wash diapers once a week) with a hot/cold cycle with an extra wash and extra rinse. Lastly, I do one more wash with 1/3 cup vinegar in the bleach compartment with a warm/warm short wash with extra rinse. This warm cycle washes away soap better than a cold rinse and the vinegar helps to ensure clean smelling diapers.*Note: last week I skipped the extra wash with the hot/cold cycle and found the dirtier diapers were not clean. Won’t skip it this week though!

A well known “bleaching” tip for stained diapers – the sun! Hang wet diapers in the sun (either outside or in a sunny window) and voila! brand new, white diapers.



March 28, 2011 · 14:15

3 responses to “Washing Cloth Diapers

  1. What are the evils of fabric softener??

  2. Moosegirl

    Love the sun!! This worked everytime… and line drying avoids the perils of fabric softener :o)

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