Caring for Cloth Diapers: How to Wash Baby Diapers

If you've chosen to use cloth diapers instead of disposable ones, read on to find out how to make cleaning your baby's diapers as quick and easy as possible.



Many of us are put off using reusable diapers as we often wonder – how do you clean a cloth diaper properly? We worry that we won’t be able to achieve the high standard of hygiene we all want for our children. But with the proper methods and products, you’ll find that caring for cloth diapers safely and effectively is incredibly easy.

Reusable diapers come in all shapes and sizes, so it’s essential to check the manufacturer’s guidelines to ensure that you wash your chosen cloth diapers safely. Important information includes how often the diapers will need to be washed before their first use; their suggested wash temperature; and how they can be dried.

How Do You Clean a Cloth Diaper?

The major differences between general laundry and cleaning cloth diapers are:

  • Diapers should be washed on a cold cycle before undergoing a normal hot or warm wash.
  • Diaper washing must be done very regularly, every one to three days.
  • Diapers should only be washed alone.

Other common queries about using cloth diapers, such as “How do you store diapers once they’ve been soiled?” and “How do you clean a cloth diaper before storage?” are simple to answer. Everything you need to know is right here in this complete guide – and once you know these tips, cleaning reusable diapers really is simple and easy.

  1. How to make a diaper washing timetable

  2. How to wash reusable diapers before their first use

As with most aspects of raising a child, routine is essential when using cloth diapers. With a newborn, it’s likely that you’ll need to do a wash every one and a half to two days, but the amount of diapers you use will lessen as your little one grows older. Decide which days of the week will be convenient for you to wash your cloth diapers, and adapt this timetable every month or so to suit your baby’s development.

It’s best to stick to your timetable, and to never leave more than three days between washes. This ensures you’re not caught short without any clean reusable diapers to hand, and prevents odor issues caused by older dirty diapers. With a little organisation, you will find that your diaper washing routine soon becomes second nature.

Whether you’re waiting for your little one to arrive, or making the switch from disposable to reusable, you will need to allow time to prewash newly bought cloth diapers to maximise their capacity for absorption.

The number of washing cycles required before you can use the diapers will vary depending on the type of diaper and material – so check the care recommendations when buying reusable diapers. However, all types of cloth diaper will need at least one wash before use, not only to ensure they’re clean enough for your baby, but also to avoid leaks when the diaper is first soiled.

  1. How do you clean a cloth diaper and store before washing?

There are two main options for storing used cloth diapers before you wash them: using a diaper bin or using waterproof bags. Many parents put soiled diapers into a bin half-filled with water, with either vinegar or specialist detergents for cloth diapers to target odor and to aid in removing dirt. If you choose this method, it is advisable to put all the diapers into a large net bag inside the bin, so that removing them is easy, and to empty the water straight into the toilet. Some reusable diapers are not suitable for soaking, so do check the manufacturers instructions.

Whether using a diaper bin or individual waterproof bags, you should remove as much baby poo as possible before storing. Some reusable diapers include a flushable disposable liner, while others need to be held over the toilet while you use toilet paper to remove the worst of it. This step is often unnecessary with newborn babies, as anything with a thin consistency will come out easily in the wash, but anyone who’s had the pleasure of changing a toddler’s diaper will understand the need!

  1. How to wash reusable diapers

Washing machines have made cleaning cloth diapers a thousand times easier than it used to be. Be careful, however, not to overload your machine, as space and movement will be necessary to clean diapers effectively – and never put other clothing items in a diaper wash.

To wash reusable diapers, you will need to use a cold cycle to remove stains, followed immediately by a normal warm or hot wash cycle. This is because initially heat will make stains set in, but ultimately it’s necessary to eliminate any germs.

You don’t need to use a special baby detergent for cloth diapers – a good quality detergent like Breeze will be just fine, as it would with any of your baby’s clothes. It’s important not to use too much – you should always read the instructions on the label first.

  1. Drying cloth diapers

After washing reusable diapers, you can dry them in much the same way you would any other laundry. Drying reusable diapers in the sun can help to keep them a brighter white, especially if you add a little lemon juice to your wash. This can make cloth diapers stiff if they dry too fast, however, so drying inside or in the tumble dryer may be preferable.

You can find out more information on how to wash baby clothes here.

Originally published