My Cloth Diapering Wash Routine

I remember when I first bought my cloth diapers I was so nervous to wash them for the first time. I put it off for as long as possible because I was afraid I was going to somehow ruin them! That’s quite a silly thought, because I don’t even think it’s possible to ruin cloth diapers- at least not on the first wash- but I know it’s a common concern for many new cloth diaper users!
I want to share with you my step by step washing routine. There is no right or wrong way to wash diapers. This, of course, is just one way to do it as there are a multitude of ways that work. This is what works for me!
First, all dirty diapers go into a trash can lined with a normal trash bag. The trash can is in our hall bathroom which is right across from Lucas’ bedroom. (I change his diapers in his bedroom.) We used to have the dirty diapers in his room but because the lid on the trash can isn’t tight enough it was starting to smell his room a little. So, all diapers go in here.
I shake out the inserts and throw everything in. Once it gets full- I wash! I do two loads in the washing machine. The first load is on cold- small load. I add a tiny bit of Purex Free & Clear detergent. I’ve learned that if I don’t do a cold wash first it won’t get all the stains out. The second load is on hot- small load. Again I add a little bit of detergent- a little more than the first load. I am not 100% happy with this current routine so I’m thinking about trying a new way. Our washing machine is a little funky right now- it won’t let me do just a cold rinse without leaking out the bottom, (yeah, I know, it’s sort of broken… or something.) so I am stuck doing two full washes. I am also thinking about trying a new kind of detergent to see if I like something better. This works for now though.

Then to dry! I throw my inserts into the dryer on medium heat for about 20 minutes. If I could give my #1 cloth diapering tip it would be to hang your diaper covers. I believe the dryer really really wears on your cloth diapers especially with velcro. I have been using my Bum Genius for less than 4 months and then velcro is already extremely frayed. It’s quite the bummer so I’m doing everything I can to keep them lasting as long as possible. One of those ways is to hang my diapers outside! This can only be done about 3 months out of the year where I live so if outside isn’t “available” because of rain or cold I will just lay my diapers on the kitchen table to dry over night.

That’s it! Who said you need to hire a diaper service?? I would love to hear your washing routine tips. Is your washing routine simpler than mine or do you have another step you do? Especially for all the new moms who are considering cloth, tell us- what works for you?

Published by Samantha Mellen

Certified personal trainer & health coach helping women transform their lives through fitness, abundant mindset coaching and internal peace. Mom of two boys, living life in Alaska.

29 thoughts on “My Cloth Diapering Wash Routine

  1. Pardon my ignorance, but even if they start fraying after 4 months…isn't that still a good investment? I mean, how many times would you have been able to use it in 4 months? Seems like it's still cheaper than disposable diapering.

  2. I use the same wash routine and it seems to work great. Do you find that the bumgenius AIO take forever to dry! If it weren't for that they would be my favorite.

  3. I do a cold rinse, no soap. Then a hot wash, with Charlie's Soap (powder, one tablespoon). Then an extra cold rinse. Since my machine doesn't have an “extra rinse” setting, I simply turn the dial to the rinse portion of the delicate cycle so that it has a rinse and a gentle spin dry.

    Then I usually machine dry my prefolds and inserts, and hang dry my covers.

    I don't think you need to be using soap in your first cold wash. Too much soap is not only a waste, but will also hurt your diapers when it isn't rinsed all the way. Also it can irritate some baby bottoms.

  4. My wash routine is similar to yours but I do a cold pre-wash first. Then I do a 2nd cold pre-wash with less than 1tbs of detergent. Then I do a regular hot wash with another 1tbs of detergent. Then I throw everything in the dryer on medium heat for about an hour. My AIOs need extra drying time so I usually throw those in there for about another 30 minutes. πŸ™‚

    I also use Purex F&C but recently have been buying samples of the GADBaby detergent to try. So far, so good! πŸ™‚

  5. I should also add – I have a clothesline, but I just have to get the hubs to put it up because I do want to sun my dipes and will probably start putting my covers and AIOs on the line to dry instead πŸ™‚

  6. we do similar… cold rinse no detergent followed by hot wash w/ detergent. we had been using All free & clear. I just got a sample of Rockin' Green Soap from GAD Baby.

    At first, I always dried ALL the dipes b/c, well, i couldn't line dry in the winter. but now, i only dry liners and inserts. all covers and other diapers either get hung outside or just on a rack in the basement. Drying them will not only rin the velcro, but the PUL layer as well.

  7. My routine is similar except I have a front loading washer. After the hot wash, I do an additional cold rinse, then sniff the diapers to make sure they smell fresh. If they don't smell fresh I do another cold wash with a cup of vinegar instead of soap…this usually gets out any left over stinkies. I hang my inserts outside at least every other wash & it seems to be preventing the micro fiber from getting stinky as often.

    For drying the pockets & covers inside when the weather doesn't allow line drying, I've found the hangers with the little clips to be invaluable. I hang them on the shower rod in the bathroom & leave the fan running if it's at all humid.

    I'm currently using All Free & Clear (with no problems) but I'll be switching to Rockin Green as soon as my order arrives.

  8. I love hearing how others wash their diapers. I do a cold soak overnight w/ washing soda, rinse in the morning and then do a hot wash with detergent I make myself. I try to line dry, weather permitting, or else I throw it in the dryer. Thanks for sharing!

  9. If you're considering a detergent switch you should try out Nellie's All Natural. They have a website. I just order a few large containers at a time, so I don't run out very quickly. It cleans so well. They also have an oxygen cleaner that is awesome.

  10. Perfect post with perfect timing! I have BGs on the way to me and really have no idea what I'm doing. As for the first comment, aren't cloth diapers supposed to last 2-2.5 years?

  11. You have a one year warranty on your bum genius! I returned my covers twice now! They have extremely wonderful customer service!Good Luck!

  12. We throw all the wet diapes (inserts & covers) into cold water in directly in the washer. They just hang out and soak. When there are enough (or when a poopy one comes along) I just add a bit of detergent (my absolute favorite is BioKleen – gentle on baby, the earth, and my sensitive nose!) and wash the wet diapes on cold (no need to use hot water as urine is sterile anyway). After washing through, I 2nd rinse them with cold water again.

    For poopy diapers (this occurs about 1ce every 3 days at our house) I shake it out and rinse in the toilet bowl, put the insert, cover, and whatever other changing cloth or clothes or anything that came into contact w/ the poo into the washer (small) in hot water w/ a little bit of soap. When it is done, I again do another rinse with cold water. (The double rinses keeps the diapers from building up soap).

    I throw all diaper covers over a bar above the washer/dryer (we use Wonderoos and Blueberries pocket diapers with snaps – so much better than Velcro in our experience). The inserts go into the dryer.

    We have used the same set (of about 18 Wonderoos and 6 Blueberries) since our son was born. He is now 11 months old (they are fully adjustable w/ snaps from 8lbs to 35lbs) and we are still using the same ones.

    WELL worth the initial investment and we couldn't be happier.

  13. HI Mama!
    We use FB and BGOS here too!
    I have a FLs (that we got a very good price on at Sears) so I do a Cold rinse. Then I do a normal rinse on hot (heavy soil option, with an extra cold rinse) with about 1/4 scoop Country Save detergent. About once a week I put in a teeny tiny bit of color safe bleach.
    Since I always do my diaps at night I hang the outsides on a drying rack (that I just got from my MIL and I love it) and I throw the inserts and my diaper bag in the dryer.
    By morning everything is dry. Here is a link to the drying rack… that way you don't have to dry your FBs anymore! And it folds down flat so I just store it between the washer and the wall when I'm not using it!

  14. Glad I read this. We're going to get the Bum Genius diapers in a month or so (still have about +300 disposables left from baby showers) for our twins. I think the idea of washing twice is great and I wouldn't have thought of that.

    Does anyone know if the velcro can simply be replaced?

  15. Yes, you can get the velcro replaced. Or, they actually send you the velcro if you can sew it on your self. But if you have a warranty, then you should really give them a call. They are extremely helpful and have great customer service!

  16. I've tried lots of washing routines. For me, rinsing the poopies, then washing all of it twice works best for me. First wash is cold, second wash is hot (just like you). My washer does not leak on the floor, which is nice. πŸ™‚

    I've tried Charlies, which I think worked well. I liked the free shipping from them and that I could order my detergent online.

    I am using Country Save right now and it works great! I can buy it from a local store so I don't have to plan ahead a week if I need soap (like if I order Charlies online).

    I used a shoe rack to dry my diapers outside or inside because I didn't have a drying rack. Worked!

  17. About once every two weeks I notice my dipes (bum genius) can get a little funky like the regular wash cycle isn't stripping everything out of them. So I do a strip wash on them, put some baking soda in the machine with the diapers and some vinegar in the fabric softner spot on my washer and wash them like normal with my cold wash, soak and then regular wash and extra rinse. Works well. Hanging them out in the sun strips them too and gets rid of stains that the wash didn't.

  18. My BumGenius OS + inserts wash routine: (only cause you asked!)

    – wash all in COLD w/tiny bit of Charlie's Soap (LOVE it!)
    – 2nd wash on HOT w/full scoop of Charlie's PLUS a squirt of blue liquid Dawn (helps w/odors)
    – extra rinse COLD
    – dry all on Med. about an hour

    **So grateful for the tips on drying the BG on the line to save velcro! Gonna start doing that.

    – I also “strip” the microfiber inserts once in a while according to BG instructions, to get any soap buildup out. Seems to help.

  19. I only use Bum Genius OS ( have had the same 18 in circulation since last Nov and they are ALL holding great).
    I use Charlie's Soap for HE washers, run them through a quick wash cold with double rinse then a longer wash on hot and usually dry them in the dryer. The humidity here is so bad in the summer it just makes them smell weird when they're outside too long.
    LOVE the cloth, wish I had used them on my other two!

  20. We do a cold wash cycle with a cup of washing soda, then a hot wash with 7th Generation Free and Clear and a Downy ball of vinegar for the rinse cycle. Then we sometimes have to do another hot rinse if there are still bubbles in the machine.

    We got the CUTEST hanger from Ikea to dry our covers
    Once we buy a house with a yard we'll have a clothes line to hang them all πŸ™‚

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