Cloth Diaper Washing Guide for New Parents

When you become a parent, confusion becomes your long-term friend too! You will be constantly making choices and making decisions about what is best for your baby. One such decision will be which diapers to choose for your baby. Congratulations on making the sustainable, eco-friendly, and budget-friendly choice by choosing cloth diapers. Now that you have cloth diapers, now what? This article by Care For Child will help you understand how to wash and maintain your cloth diapers. But before we understand how to wash a cloth diaper, let us quickly look at why cloth diapers are important. 

Why Cloth Diapers?

In the simplest terms, cloth diapers or washable diapers are better than one-time-use disposable diapers, as they are
  1. Chemical & toxins free
  2. Eco-friendly & environment-friendly
  3. Pocket friendly
  4. Washable & reusable
  5. Gentle on your baby’s skin
  6. Comfortable
  7. Adjustable
  8. Customizable 
  9. Reduce landfill waste
  10. Reduce chances of rashes
  11. Promotes sustainable lifestyle

Importance of a Proper Wash Routine

  • Washing the cloth diapers properly and regularly ensures good hygiene. The diapers are used for the most sensitive area of your baby’s body, thus proper hygiene is extremely important. 
  • Over time, there can be odour build-up in diapers. To avoid this unpleasant smell and odour, there must be a proper cleaning & washing routine for cloth diapers. 
  • If there is detergent build-up in the diapers, they can clog the pores of the fabric & reduce the absorbency. Thus, additional steps like hot water flush or other necessary steps are important to ensure that the absorbency of the cloth diapers is not affected.
  • All parents who use cloth diapers or reusable diapers vouch for them because they cause negligible or no rashes at all. But if the diapers are not washed properly and still have gunk or detergent build-up in them, they can lead to nasty and painful rashes. 
  • Washes & clean diapers can be more comfortable and irritation-free for your baby’s soft and delicate skin. 
  • A proper wash routine ensures that the diapers are stain-free in the long run. 

Pre Wash Routine for Washable Diapers for Baby

Here are a few tips that will help you understand the pre-wash routine for cloth diapers.
  • Sort & Separate – Sort the diapers that have just pee in them separately from the ones that have poop in them. This will help in stopping cross-contamination within the newborn cloth diapers. This will also ensure that the prewash for heavily soiled diapers is given the adequate attention that it needs. 
  • Remove The Waste – Once the diapers are sorted, remove the solids from the cloth diaper before putting them in the washing pile. Use can do this using a faucet or a spatula and flush the waste off the toilet. Rince the cloth diapers under running water after removing the superficial waste. This will ensure that your washing machine does not get clogged with solid waste while washing.    
  • Soake The Diapers – Soaking will help loosen the solid waste if any that is trapped in the pores of the fabric. Soaking the reusable diapers in a small amount of detergent can also ensure that the stains and odour break down before putting them in for washing. It is important to follow the manufacturer’s instructions while soaking or washing your baby’s washable diapers. 

How To Wash Cloth Diapers

  1. Choose The Right Detergent – When washing cloth diapers, selecting the appropriate detergent is crucial. It is advised to use detergent devoid of fabric softeners, dyes, and fragrances. There are also detergents designed specifically for cloth diapers, which might be a good choice. Steer clear of bleach and fabric softeners as they can weaken the diapers' absorbency and harm the fabric.
  2. Machine Washing - You can use a regular washing machine to wash most cloth diapers. To properly sanitize the diapers, use hot water (130–140°F). After removing any extra waste with a pre-rinse cycle, add the recommended amount of detergent and proceed with a regular wash cycle. To make sure all the detergents have been eliminated, perform one more rinse cycle afterwards. Keep in mind that overfilling the washing machine may hinder adequate agitation and cleaning.
  3. Hand Washing - For people without access to a washing machine, there is an alternate method: hand washing cloth diapers. Add the recommended amount of detergent to hot water in a clean sink or bathtub. After agitating the diapers in the water for a few minutes, remove the diapers and give them a thorough rinse. If required, repeat the procedure until all stains and dirt are gone.
In summary, choose a detergent that is free of fragrances, dyes, and fabric softeners. Machine wash cloth diapers in hot water with detergent, and add an extra rinse cycle to remove any remaining detergent. For those without access to a washing machine, hand washing is an alternative method that can be effective when done properly.

How To Dry & Store Cloth Diapers 

To preserve the quality and lifespan of cloth diapers, proper drying and storage practices are essential. Cloth diapers should ideally be allowed to air dry after washing whenever feasible. To help remove stains and odours, hang them on a drying rack or clothesline to let natural airflow and sunlight in. Use a low heat setting on the dryer to avoid damaging the fabric or the elastics. Dryer sheets and fabric softeners should not be used as they can lessen absorbency. Cloth diapers should be kept dry and clean after drying. The diapers can be kept contained until the next washing cycle in a special diaper pail or wet bag. Make sure there is enough airflow to stop the growth of mold or mildew. To maintain optimal performance, regularly check diapers and replace any that are worn out or damaged.

Key Takeaways

  1. A proper wash routine for cloth diapers is necessary to maintain hygiene, prevent odour buildup, and ensure absorbency. 
  2. The pre-wash routine includes sorting and separating diapers, removing waste, and soaking them.
  3.  Proper drying and storage practices are essential to preserve the quality and lifespan of cloth diapers.


Q1 – What is the best technique to dry cloth diapers?

Ans – Cloth diapers should be tumble-dried on low heat or allowed to air dry. Excessive heat can weaken the fabric's fibres and decrease their absorbency.

Q2 – Should I use fabric softener after washing cloth diapers?

Ans – Fabric softeners should be avoided when washing cloth diapers as they can leave a residue on the fabric and reduce the absorbency of the diapers.

Q3 – Can I use bleach to wash cloth diapers?

Ans - Cloth diapers can be sanitized with bleach, but it is crucial to use it sparingly and as directed by the manufacturer. Bleach usage too much can weaken the fabric of cloth diapers and decrease their absorbency.

Q4 – How often should I wash cloth diapers?

Ans – To avoid the build-up of bacteria and odour, it is recommended to wash the cloth diapers every 2 – 3 days. Soiled diapers should not be kept without washing for over 24 hours.
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