How to Wash Cloth Diapers
There are so many different ways to wash your cloth diapers, it’s all about what works best for you. Here are some methods that I’ve used to keep my diapers looking like new and smelling clean. We have a basic whirlpool washing machine and I have included an image above so you can see what our settings are.
Method 1: Homemade Laundry Detergent
The washing method that I started with was using homemade laundry detergent. This worked great on Pumpkin’s newborn (exclusively breastfed) diapers and still works on his older (formula/solid) diapers although you will need more detergent to get the funk out.
The recipe we use for homemade laundry detergent is as follows:
- 1/4 cup liquid castille soap
- 1/4 cup baking soda
- 1/4 cup super washing soda
- 2-3 drops of essential oil of your choice
Pour everything into a 1 gallon jug (I use an old white vinegar container), fill to top with water, mix well. Add 1/3 cup to every load of laundry.
When we used this laundry detergent for diapers I always used 3-4 drops of Plant Guru’s “Bandit” blend.
It’s a combination of lemon, clove, eucalyptus, cinnamon, and rosemary essential oils and has a nice clean scent. It also supposedly has antibacterial and antimicrobial properties which is beneficial for washing things that frequently come into contact with poop.
You can buy it on Amazon but if you already own some essential oils and don’t feel like shelling out money for new ones, you can just use anything you like the smell of. Tea tree is good for stinky washes, just FYI.
The wash method we used for homemade laundry detergent involved two-three wash cycles and multiple rinses. It wasn’t a big deal when I was home with the baby all day but became a bit of a hassle when I went back to work. This amount of washing does leave your diapers sparkling clean.
- Wash One: 1/3 cup detergent. Normal wash, medium soil, tap cold water, and 1 rinse.
- Remove any wet bags or diaper covers (as long as they’re clean) and hang to dry.
- Wash Two: 1/3 cup detergent. Normal wash, medium/heavy soil (depending on how many poopy diapers in that particular load), warm water, and 2 rinses.
- Wash Three: If diapers still have a slight odor or don’t seem perfectly clean, repeat wash two. Note that diapers might have some staining which you can sun out or just ignore.
Homemade laundry detergent is probably the most labor intensive way to wash your cloth diapers because along with doing laundry you have to make detergent. I preferred this method when Pumpkin was a newborn but it isn’t for everyone.
Method 2: Plain Tide Original
Once Pumpkin started drinking formula and eating solid foods his poop started getting way nastier and some of his diapers started to have a distinctive odor to them. A lot of his bamboo inserts started to smell like poop or mildew as soon as he’d pee. It got so bad that I spent hours one day scouring the internet and trying everything I could to get rid of the smell. 1 teaspoon of blue Dawn got rid of the stink, until the next week. I realized it was probably time to switch washing methods and beat the stink for good. Introducing, plain tide.
This wash method is less labor intensive but if you have a lot of sticky poops in that particular wash, you might need to repeat wash 2 a second time.
- Wash One: Fill Tide measuring scoop 1/4 of the way to line 1 (or just add a splash of detergent without measuring). Normal wash, light soil, tap cold water, and 1 rinse.
- Wash Two: Fill Tide measuring scoop 1/2 of the way to line 1. Normal wash, medium soil, warm water, and 2 rinses.
We’ve never had a problem with Tide not getting our diapers clean. They always smell fresh and clean right out of the wash and we don’t have to set our washer to such a heavy soil level, which saves energy. Note: now that Pumpkin is older I don’t remove the wet bag or diaper covers after the first wash, I want to make sure they are clean because his poops tend to stick to everything.
Method 3: TBD
Let me know your favorite washing method in the comments below!