How To Clean Cloth Diapers

Cloth diapers — they save money, and they're great for the environment, but cleaning cloth nappies takes a bit more effort than just throwing away disposables. Luckily, however, the process may be easier than you think. Take a look at these cleaning tips.

​1. Rinse Off Solid Waste

​To remove solid waste from the diapers, give them a quick rinse in the toilet. If you prefer not to put your hand in a toilet, you can buy handheld bidets that attach to the side of your toilet, and these work great for spraying off poo.

​Note you don't have to rinse diapers until your child starts eating solids or drinking formula. If your baby is exclusively breastfed, the poop is water soluable, and you don't need to worry about rinsing.

​2. Pop the Diaper in the Pail

​Once the diaper is rinsed, pop it in your diaper pail. The diaper should be slightly wet to prevent the stains from setting. Some people like to keep their pails covered with water, but that can get heavy and awkward when it's time to drag the pail to the laundry room. It's fine to just fill the pail wet diapers without adding extra water.

​To reduce odors, don't use an open pail. Rather, use a dedicated diaper pail with a carbon filter.

​3. Wash Every Three to Four Days

​To avoid stains from setting, wash the cloth diapers on a regular basis. Ideally, you should do laundry twice a week or more often as needed. Newborns, for example, can go through seven or eight diapers a day so you may need to tackle the job every other day.

​4. Don't Overload the Washer

​To get adequately clean, your diapers need space to move around in the water. To allow that, only wash between 12 and 18 diapers at a time. With newborn diapers, you can typically get in about 18, but as your child gets bigger, you want to wash only about 12.

​5. Rinse

​If your washing machine has a rinse cycle, use that before running the wash cycle. With some machines, you have to use the soak setting. Then, progress to the rinse setting and finally start over again.

​6. Wash on Hot

​Once you've rinsed the diapers, it's time to wash them. Always wash prefolds on hot, but if you've got all-in-ones with attached covers, check the manufacturer's instructions. You may need to wash these items on warm as excess heat may break down the covers.

​7. Don't Use Fabric Softener

​Although it's tempting to add nice smells, you should stay away from fabric softener when washing cloth diapers. Fabric softener coats the diapers, and that can make them less absorbent for your baby. In addition, the perfumes can irritate some baby's skin.

​8. Use Bleach Sparingly

​You should also avoid using too much bleach, as it can disintegrate diaper fibres. However, a little bleach is fine and can even be helpful for stain removal. Some manufacturers recommend using a quarter cup of bleach along with your regular detergent about once in a month.

​8. Try Dish Soap for Diaper Cream

​If you've got a stubborn diaper cream stain that you can't remove, try using dish soap. Dish Soap helps break down the oils in the diaper cleaner more effectively than most detergents.

​9. Dry Thoroughly

​To dry your diapers, you can simply put them in the dryer. If possible, however, you should hang the diapers out to dry. The sun is a natural stain and germ fighter. Note that line drying can make the diapers a bit "crunchy", but a few minutes on tumble dry fluffs them right back up.