Here is a general Diaper washing “how to” from Kelly’s Closet
Washing Brand New Products…
New diapers do need to be laundered prior to their first use. Some items such as pocket diapers, covers, inserts and items made from micro-terry or bamboo only need a quick wash; warm or hot water works best (detergent is optional but recommended).
Organic/Unbleached Cotton and Hemp products…
Organic and unbleached cotton and hemp products (inserts, prefolds, etc…) do require several washes BEFORE they will be absorbent; otherwise, leaks will occur. Generally it can take between 5-6 hot water washes (or more) before the natural oils from the cotton or hemp are removed and allows the fabric to properly absorb. Items will become more absorbent with subsequent washes.
For optimal results use hot water for the wash and warm water rinses (if an option on your machine). We do recommend drying the diapers between washes – however, you can also opt to wash twice, dry once, and continue repeating until the diapers are fully prepped.
Washing Soiled Diapers – Keep it Simple!
Cloth diaper laundry recommendations are a dime a dozen. However, we all use different washing machines, different detergents, and even different diapers. Therefore, finding a diaper laundry routine that suits you best can be cumbersome. We recommend keeping it simple!
The following routine has proven to work well for most people, regardless of what type of machine or cloth diapers you use:
- 1 short cycle cold water wash with detergent
- 1 long/heavy duty cycle hot water wash with detergent (use slightly less detergent)
- 1 additional rinse*
*Warm water rinses, if an option on your machine, work best at removing residue.
Personal washing stories..
HE machines are not quite as good as at washing cloth diapers as top loaders are. The goal of an HE machine is to save water, which is normally a good thing, but in the case of a cloth diaper it isn’t. The more water, the better. Diapers washed in HE machines might need an extra rinse and most certainly less detergent. If you buy a brand of detergent made specially for cloth diapers, then it should have very good instruction on the packaging.
Here’s what I (Karly) do
I take apart all of the diaper components-take the inserts out and fold all of the velcro tabs in- and then I do a cycle without detergent, on “normal” and when that’s done I do a second cycle on the setting “whitest whites”, with detergent. If I feel like my diapers were extra smelly before I put them in, then I’ll do an extra rise cycle at the end. I use the brand Rockin’ Green Cloth Diaper Detergent, and I would definately recommend it. Then, I take the diapers out and put them into the dryer on timed dry for about 60-70 minutes and dry on low.
Here’s what a friend does
I have a friend who’s son just recently was potty trained. She got 2 good years out of her cloth diapers and her washing routine looks slightly different than mine. She loads her diapers into her top-loading machine and runs the water on the highest setting, the more water the better. She does 1 cold cycle and then a hot cycle, using detergent in both. She used powered Tide (which is normally not recommended) on her diapers and it worked out great! Her diapers came out clean every time. Then she tossed them into the dryer and dried them on “normal”.
Diaper trouble shooting idea’s from Kelly’s Closet
My Diapers are LEAKING! HELP!
The 3 most common reasons why diapers leak:
First, it’s important to change your baby frequently. Although cloth diapers do absorb very well and are much healthier than their disposable counterparts, you cannot leave baby in a diaper for 4-5 hours during the day and expect the diaper not to leak. If a diaper becomes saturated it will leak!
Therefore, we recommend changing baby every 2-3 hours or as needed (usually more often for younger babies and less often for older babies).
If your little one is a super soaker – then you may consider adding additional absorbency to prevent leaks. Hemp inserts or doublers will provide you with the best absorption possible! We like the BabyKicks Hemparoo Joey Bunz or the Knickernappies Loopy-Do Prewashed Hemp inserts.
If you’re trying to go overnight with no leaks, then our number one recommendation is to use a bumGenius One Size Microfiber insert and a Knickernappies Super-Do Prewashed Hemp insert.
This is hands-down the most leak-proof combination for overnight protection. The Super-Do insert utilizes a combination of 6 layers of thin but super absorbent prewashed hemp terry coupled with two layers of micro-terry. Combined with the 3 layers of super thirsty microfiber terry from the bumGenius One Size Microfiber insert – you’ve got it covered!
If the diaper doesn’t fit properly, it will leak. Diapers that are too small or too big will cause leaking and/or wicking. If you’re using a one size diaper – make sure you’re using the right setting for your little one!
Please note, while one size diapers are designed to fit babies from roughly 8-10 pounds through potty training (usually around 35 pounds) – it’s important to realize that babies come in all shapes and sizes – therefore a one size diaper is a relative term.
Newborns don’t typically fit a one-size diaper very well from day one. Therefore, we like to recommend the use of either an X-small pocket (such as Fuzzi Bunz), All-in-One (such as bumGenius Deluxe All-in-Ones), or Prefolds and Diaper Covers in the early weeks until baby has had the opportunity to thrive and thicken up a little so the one size diapers will fit better.
3) Residue Buildup
The third main reason you could be experiencing leaks has to do with residue buildup.
If you’re using a Free and Clear or commercial detergent (including commercial HE detergents) then it is highly likely you’re diapers have a build-up of residues which is causing your diapers to leak/repel.
Additionally, if you’ve used any fabric softener or oily/petroleum based diaper cream without a liner – this will also cause your diapers to completely repel as well.
Therefore it’s important to not use any fabric softener, non cloth diaper friend creams/ointments (without the use of a liner) as well as an approved detergent.
Cloth diaper friendly detergents will reduce your chances of detergent residue build-up and are free from enzymes, dyes, fragrances, fabric softeners, etc… which can cause excessive wear and tear on your diapers.
Detergents We Recommend:
- Rockin’ Green Cloth Diaper Detergent
- bumGenius Cloth Diaper Detergent
- Tiny Bubbles Cloth Diaper Detergent
- Allen’s Naturally
- Charlie’s Soap
- Country Save
- Planet Ultra (Powdered)
There are a plethora of cloth diaper laundry lists available with other recommended detergents but we like to stick to what we have personally tried and know works well.
Note: Rockin’ Green, bumGenius, and Tiny Bubbles detergents have all been formulated for use with cloth diapers. Therefore, you should follow the recommended amount on the packaging.
- Baby Soaps (such as Dreft or Ivory Snow)
- Free & Clear Detergents
- “Natural” Detergents
- Any detergent with: fabric softeners, whiteners/brighteners, enzymes, fragrance, and/or bleach
These types of detergents will typically cause residue build-up which can lead to repelling and/or leaking issues. They may also cause premature wear and tear on your diapers. If you have used one of these types of detergent then you will need to strip your diapers and switch to a recommended detergent.
Have specific washing questions and need help? CONTACT US!
My Diapers are horribly STINKY! What can I do?
Nobody likes a funky smelling diaper! This is probably one of the more annoying problems with cloth diapers. In order to solve the stinky problem it’s important to find out the source/cause.
Do You Have Hard Water?
Simply put, hard water has a lot of minerals in it, namely calcium and magnesium. These minerals, if not properly rinse away, can lead to a mineral build-up in your diapers which may cause offensive odors!
If so, hard water can sometimes lead to stinky diapers because:
1) The detergent is not able to work as effectively in hard water
2) The minerals from the hard water are being deposited back onto the diapers
Many detergents don’t work as well in hard water because they have to work at softening the water rather than cleaning. Therefore we recommend using a separate water softener, such as Calgon Water Softener (NOT Calgon bath products). Calgon Water Softener is considered safe for use on all types of cloth diapers.
Calgon can also be used for stripping diapers, especially for areas with especially hard water. Just wash clean diapers 3-4 times with hot water and Calgon (no detergent). As always, be sure to rinse thoroughly!
Use ½ the recommended amount for a top loading machine and ¼ the recommended amount for a front loading machine.
Detergent residue and/or Bacteria Buildup
If hard water isn’t the problem then it is likely due to detergent residue and/or bacteria remaining in the diapers/inserts.
If you suspect detergent residue is the problem then you will want to run your clean diapers through several (4-6) hot water wash cycles with no detergent or additives.
If you suspect residual bacteria is the problem then the quickest and easiest way to resolve this problem is by bleaching the inserts (not the pocket diapers). Add 2 tablespoons of bleach to a hot wash cycle. This should do the trick. Afterwards, for maintenance we recommend bleaching your inserts once or month (or as needed if you notice any smell issues).
Additionally, we strongly recommend SUNNING your inserts and diapers. The sun is a natural disinfectant (and also removes stains and whitens so your inserts/diapers will look pretty spectacular too).
Here’s a list a few other things that you can try if your diapers smell, from Kelly’s Closet
Baking Soda (1-2 tablespoons) – helps neutralize acid and odors. Baking soda can be used in place of detergent in the initial cold water wash, or substitute ½ of your detergent for baking soda in the initial cold water wash.
Bleach: (1-2 tablespoons) – While bleach is typically a cloth diapering “no-no” – we do recommend a periodic bleaching of micro-terry inserts; especially since micro-terry is more prone to build-up and stink issues. Do not use on other types of cloth diapers, especially those with PUL.
Vinegar (1/4 cup or less) works by breaking down residues making them readily wash away. Also helps restores the pH balance in fabrics, reduces lint, and naturally eliminates static cling. Not recommended or necessary unless you develop consistent problems with residue build-up. Use in the rinse cycle—either with a Downy Ball or in the fabric softener dispenser in your washing machine.