Saturday, June 27, 2009

Our Diaper Wash Routine

This isn't meant to be a comprehensive tutorial on cloth diaper washing, but here's my wash routine. It has worked pretty darn well for a over three months. The only time I had problems, I think it was due to some oily rags from the garage that I washed right before doing a load of diapers (probably not too bright of me). I've also included some other tips and things at the end.

  1. First, I do a cold pre-soak/wash with no detergent. My Whirlpool top-load washer has has an auto 20 minute presoak followed by a 5 minute prewash. Sometimes I put a little OxyClean Free in with this load if it there are a lot of poopy diapers. This cycle gets the diapers remarkably clean I've found. The goal is really just to get the bulk of the pee/poop off the diapers so that the wash cycle is in fairly clean water. Otherwise, you're washing in poopy water.
  2. Next, I do a hot wash with 1 oz. of Planet liquid. I aim for some suds, but not a ton.
  3. Then, I do an extra rinse with cold water. My washer lets me schedule an extra rinse when I set the wash cycle, so that I don't have to go start this manually every time.
  4. Once the extra rinse is done, I check everything for stains and give them a good sniff to make sure they smell clean (i.e., like nothing). If there are any significant stains, I set them aside for sunning.
  5. I put everything in the dryer on medium for a 20 minute cycle. I usually have a couple of dryer balls and a large (dry) bath towel in their to help them dry quickly. *
  6. Finally, I pull out pockets and PUL covers and hang them over the washer lid if they aren't quite dry, and set a 50-60 minute dry cycle on medium heat for everything else.
* If I'm leaving the house for a while or going to bed, I usually skip step 4 and put everything but the pockets and PUL covers in for a 75 minute dry cycle on medium heat.
Laundry Additives:
There are a lot of various additives that some people use at different times in the wash routine, including baking soda, vinegar, Calgon (water softener), BacOut, Tea Tree Oil (TTO), etc. I prefer to keep things simple and just use a bit of OxyClean Free on occasion.
Stains / Sunning:
I've had a few stains that made it through my wash, and so far sunning has worked marvelously. I just wet them thoroughly and lay them out on a sunny day for a few hours. If they dry out, I just wet them again and put them back out. It's even worked on days that aren't all that sunny.
As I mentioned, I had one problem that caused some serious stink issues. If stink issues are caused by residue on the diapers, the solution is a process known as "stripping" (basically a heavy-duty cleaning to remove all the left-over detergent and other residue for the diapers). A lot of people recommend stripping with Dawn Original, but I wasn't too keen on the idea of putting Dawn in my washing machine. So I did a hot cycle with RLR, a laundry residue remover, and nothing else. I bought two little capsules of it for about $2.50 at my grocery store. It fixed the problem diapers in one load, and I think it cleaned a lot of gunk out of my washer too!
A note about Front-Load Washers:
I don't have a front-loader, because I'm kind of old-fashioned like that. LOL But I have heard of people having success with getting the washer to use more water by setting the washer for a heavily soiled load and/or putting a clean soaking wet towel in with the wash. Also, use a tiny amount of detergent - usually around 1 tablespoon I think.


  1. This is our routine almost exactly. I do use TTO in the wash cycle instead of OxyClean, though. But everything else is the same!

  2. I didn't know you were cloth diapering! Yay! We are too! I use this same routine, except I haven't been pre-treating and I am using liquid soap nuts and I line dry everything. I am battling the poop stains and was thinking of switching to a more powerful detergent. Is Planet liquid available in stores? I am stripping the diapers this weekend with RLR, so hopefully that helps. What's in your diaper system (pre-folds, pockets, aios)?

  3. I have seen Planet at my local Kroger, but I bought mine off Amazon. Or you can contact them ( and they will tell you where you can buy it locally.

    We didn't start cloth diapering until after the EBF stage, but from what I've heard, although EBF poop dissolves in the wash, it does tend to stain. IMO, Oxy Clean is THE best at getting out poop stains in the wash. Also, sunning is amazing for diapers that are already stained.

    I should make a separate post about our stash, but it's mostly a combination of prefolds with Blueberry Coveralls, and Blueberry/Swaddlebees pockets for going out and overnight. Plus I have a few cute Goodmamas for playing at home in just a diaper, and some other random pockets.