How to clean cloth diapers - the thing that everyone over researches!
Washing cloth diapers sounds complicated because so many resources over complicate things while claiming “science.”
My friends, step away from Google. Seriously - back away from your search engine.
I have ruined an entire cloth diaper stash for two by following well-meaning but damaging advice.
It led me to destroy some of my cloth diapers and spend way too much money on replacements, wasteful amounts of detergent, water, bleach, and so on…
Everybody gives you overly-complicated routines that will provide you with the same result - everyone but Nicki’s.
Believe it or not - Nicki’s Diapers wants you to continue using cloth diapers and to make the process as easy as possible for you.
So today, I’m giving you the 7 best insider secrets on how to wash cloth diapers. After this, you will be a cloth diaper cleaning pro.
Nicki’s 7 Insider Secrets on How to Clean Cloth Diapers:
1. Don’t Over Complicate Your Cleaning Routine
If I’m brutally honest - the first year and a half of my cloth diaper wash routine was a hot mess.
Two to three full washes with full scoops of detergent. This led to so many suds, which I was reassured was normal.
The constant “SUDS” error on my washing machine was obviously a machine error, not the routine I found on the internet.
My diapers didn’t feel all that clean though they smelled fine - until they didn’t.
The “clean” diapers smelled like Tide, but the second they were peed in, it smelled like we had six turtles, 12 chinchillas, a bunny, and some sheep hanging out in the diaper pail.
Did that make me change my routine? NOPE!
Of course, it was just a fluke. I soaked. I bleached. I tried every trick in the book.
I still had to strip and sanitize my stash constantly. Not to mention by this time, they were repelling. Super, super fun, let me tell you.
It took me a while, but I finally wised up and started following the manufacturer guidelines after removing all extra detergents from my inserts.
I have never had to bleach, strip, or soak my diapers ever again.
I know. It sounds unobtainable for those who are experiencing this situation, but it’s true!
If you are using many detergents (more than you would for your regular laundry), needing to strip, soak, or add bleach constantly to your wash routine - it’s time to reevaluate!
A simple wash routine is one quick wash or rinse and one regular wash with detergent. That’s it!
*Disclaimer if you have exceptionally hard or soft water, you may need an extra step or laundry additive, but for the most part, that works for EVERYONE.*
2. Don’t Fear The Mainstream Detergents
I’m going to sound like a Tide commercial here, and I won't apologize for it. I know, I know. So many of us choose the cloth diaper path to steer away from “chemicals.”
This is your public service reminder that water and air (those things that keep you alive) are also chemicals.
When I first started researching cloth diapers, cloth diaper “safe” detergent was all the rage.
Then I looked at the price. It was something like $19.99 for a tiny bag. I noped out of that so fast.
I didn’t want to be spending an arm and leg on special detergent for something that was supposed to save me money.
Then came - the “homemade detergent.”
I was intrigued by this quite a bit. It was cheap, cloth diaper “safe,” and again-cheap.
The more I looked into this, the more it seemed that people had ruined their washing machines.
If you continue to Google and find pictures of regular laundry being cleaned with homemade detergent and then stripped and cleaned with a mainstream detergent, your skin may crawl.
There was no way I was going to wash my dirtiest laundry with something like that.
“But that’s how they cleaned diapers before! A bar of lye soap!”
Okay, you got me, but what’s left out of that so often is that they were using washboards! That is a lot of agitation and work.
I don’t know about you, but I’m not about to buy a washboard and scrub out all of my laundries.
Also, they were likely using flat cloth diapers, which is just one layer of fabric.
That’s much easier to clean than our inserts, prefolds, and fitteds. The more I researched and asked questions; I learned that “safe” detergents aren’t really a thing and that Tide Powder was the gold standard.
It treated hard water (up to 180ppm), rinsed out quickly, and bonus that we already used Tide, but in liquid form.
We did and later found out that is exactly what most cloth diapering manufacturers suggest to use.
The only big things you will want to steer clear of are added fabric softener and Oxi-Clean.
If your favorite detergent is something like Gain or Foca, those also work pretty well!
There were definitely times when I was broke as a joke and cut my Tide with some Foca! Keep an eye on sales.
I can usually score Tide or Gain Powder for a fraction of the price and stock up! If you want something more natural, be aware that you will likely need to use much more and contain surfactants and enzymes.
If you’re ever unsure, you can email firstname.lastname@example.org or the brand that you are using! They’ll be able to guide you.
Remember: this is the dirtiest laundry you will ever clean. You need something that’s designed to deal with that kind of mess!
3. Turn Your Wet Bags Around!
Gloria Estefan says, turn the beat around, Nicki’s says, turn your wet bags around (or at least inside-out).
This is something I don’t believe I’ve ever found in my research, but more through trial and error.
Wet Bags trap water, and if you are adding those to your first wash, you are trapping the dirtiest part of your routine. EWW!
By flipping them inside out and adding them to your main wash cycle, they’ll trap less water, detergent and allow your stash to get clean.
I’ve also found that over time those zippers on wet bags could scratch up my PUL. I wasn’t having that, and neither was my stash.
If you see tiny scratches or tears in that waterproof lining, zippers are the likely culprit.
By flipping the wet bags inside out, the zippers are mostly contained inside and can’t rub all over your diapers.
4. Diaper Sprayer - The Ultimate Time Saver
This is pretty self-explanatory. Spray. Wash. Done.
That’s not to say that there’s anything wrong with dunking and swishing.
Heck, I was on my third cloth diapered kid before I finally invested.
I’ll never look back now! It’s faster, easier, and almost fun.
I said almost. One more word of advice here.
Buy one - don’t DIY. I have mentioned that I’m cheap a billion times, and it held for our first sprayer.
I was determined to make one more affordable. I succeeded, or so I thought until I realized that I didn’t have enough water pressure.
Okay, no big deal. Just another run to the hardware store to pick up a pressurizer thingy.
Welp, I did that, but then realized I needed some other (It’s been so long I can’t remember) sort of attachment. Fluff my life.
THEN the pressurizer broke my mother-fluffing spray head, TWICE. Guys.
I spent MORE with all of this than if I would have just ordered a diaper sprayer, to begin with. #salty
5. Don’t Ball Up Your Dirty Diapers in Your Wet Bag
Ploppable poop is a myth. At least in this house.
I think we’ve been blessed with five ploppable poops over five kids. I wish I were joking.
Peanut butter poop galore, and that’s fun for no one. You can, however, DIY your own.
I like to have a smaller dollar store bucket sitting on top of my diaper pail. The poopy diapers that I need to deal with hang out there until wash day.
The benefit of using the bucket is that you know what needs to be dealt with before washing, AND you can lay that diaper “face-up.”
The poop will air dry a bit and will be much easier to plop into the toilet. Seriously. It just works. Try it!
6. Hang Your Cloth Diapers Out To Dry
I’m going to be the first person to tell you that I don’t have time for that!
If you don’t have access to a dryer or you are intent on keeping your covers, shells, and other diapers in pristine condition, line drying is the way to go.
During the summer months, and when I feel extra motivated, I will begrudgingly drag out my drying rack and hang up my shells.
It’s better for the environment and your elastics.
7. Don’t Be Afraid of Innovation
This ties into tip number one, but it is worth repeating. It’s easy to feel like you’ve failed.
You don’t want to hear the “I told you so” from naysayers. I GET IT!
The thing is, though, you don’t have to live with that barnyard smell, persistent rash, or those leaks! None of that is normal. Ever. It’s not.
It’s not normal to need to strip. It’s not normal to need to bleach. It’s not normal for your clean diapers to smell like anything other than laundry.
It’s not normal for your diapers to smell like roadkill or singe your nose-hair ammonia the second they’ve been peed in.
If you’re experiencing any of this or something else, please, for the love of all that is fluffy, email at email@example.com
We’ll get you all patched up.
Conclusion - How to Clean Cloth Diapers
Washing cloth diapers can be a painful experience - especially with tons of incorrect information on the internet.
But, you now know the 7 insider secrets on how to clean cloth diapers like a pro!
- Don’t Over Complicate Your Cleaning Routine
- Don’t Fear Mainstream Detergents
- Turn Your Wet Bags Around!
- Diaper Sprayer - The Ultimate Time Saver
- Don’t Ball Up Your Dirty Diapers in Your Wet Bag
- Hang Your Cloth Diapers Out To Dry
- Don’t Be Afraid of Innovation
Remember - with great power, comes great responsibility. Use these secrets wisely.
In the meantime, we just updated our line with tons of new options for all of your cloth diaper needs.