Monday, September 28, 2009

Adventures in Cloth Diapering: How I Wash those Spelly Dipes!

Some friends have asked me how I wash our cloth diapers, so I thought I would share it with everyone.

First, you should know how our bathroom is set up. The changing table is in the bathroom, along with the washer and dryer. This set up is very convenient and efficient (you will see why in a minute)!

After reading around on the internet and reading the cleaning instructions that came with the diapers, I have come up with the following system:

Storing those smelly diapers
1. After I take off John's messy diaper, I put it directly in our top-loading washing machine. Because the washing machine is right next to the changing table, I use it as a "dry pail." Click HERE to learn more about the different kinds of pails you can use.

2. I wash the diapers once a day, usually in the morning. Some people have asked "what if you need to do laundry, and there are dirty diapers in your washing machine?" Well, since I wash the diapers in the morning, if I have any laundry for the day, I will do that right after I wash the diapers. I don't typically have laundry to do every day, but there is a window of opportunity when the need arises. If John has a messy diaper while I am doing other laundry, I put his dirty diaper in a wet bag and keep it there until the washer is free again.

3. First, I use the "soak" setting on the washing machine with a small water load and cold water. The purpose of this is to rinse off the poop. Breast milk poop is water soluble, so it does not need to be rinsed off in the toilet. When we start solid foods, we will need to spray off the solid poop in the toilet. For that reason, we may put off solid foods until he is potty trained! ;) Just kidding!

4. Then I drain the poopy water out of the washing machine.

5. Here are the settings I use for the wash cycle: Medium water load, 2 rinses, hot water to begin with, cold water for the 2nd rinse.

6. I use 1/4 of a tablespoon (yes, it's only a small amount!) of Charlie's detergent and 4 drops of tea tree oil.

7. I hang dry the pocket diapers and the cloth wipes. The pocket diapers take about 12 hours to be completely dry. The wipes are dry in about 2 hours.

8. For the inserts and pre-folds, I check for staining first. If they are stained, I put them on our window sill that gets a lot of afternoon sun. Even on a cloudy day, the sun will bleach the stain right out of those inserts! I am always amazed!

9. If the inserts and pre-folds are not stained, I dry them in the dryer.

10. When the diapers are clean, dry, and stain-free, I assemble them so they are ready to be used. This involves stuffing the pocket diaper with the insert. This makes it easy for Andrew and my mom when they change John's diaper. It's as easy to put on as a disposable!

That's it!
I hope that all made sense! I try to keep everything really simple. Many cloth diapering parents have other methods of storing, washing, and drying their diapers. This is just what has worked for us so far.

Related posts:
9-27-09 Cloth Wipes
And the Winner is...
Reviews and New Diapers
The Sun is Amazing!
The Beginning


  1. Great system. you are lucky to have the bathroom set up! Perfect for cloth diapering! If you don't mind being hijacked I will share my method. We also use charlies soap but instead of tea tree oil I used 1/4 cup vinegar in the rinse. I can't store my diapers in the wash so I have a large hanging wet bag for dirty diapers next to the changing table. We wash every other day as Samantha has padded my stash with enough diapers to do so :-) On wash day I dump the wet bag in the wash inside out. I do a cold soak and rinse. Then a heavy duty wash (warm/warm) with 1/4 tbl of charlies (WE LOVE CHARLIES SOAP!)and vinegar. Then a heavy duty wash without soap. Sometimes I do an additional warm rinse just to make sure there is no build up.... don't want the stinkys! Kylan is on solids so if he does accidentally (we partially EC) poop in his diaper I knock the solids off in the toilet before they go in the wet bag. I always love reading about other families cloth diaper routine! I dry all our diaper in the dryer (on low) since I have all fitteds no risk of the PUL wearing out :-)

  2. Thanks for sharing Audrey! Yes Charlies is great soap! What is "EC"?

  3. Elimination Communication... It is as crazy as it sounds... but no more poopy dipes to change :-)