Tuesday, July 23, 2013

My Cloth Diaper Wash Routine

Something that is always a hot topic in the cloth diapering community is how to wash your diapers and how to trouble shoot any issues.  In the first month that we cloth diapered I did a lot of research to try and determine the best wash routine for me.  A wash routine is very personalized based on your water, washing machine and diapers.  Here I will detail out what my wash routine is as well as provide links to sites that I have found helpful.

I have a whirlpool high efficiency front loading machine, the duet steam.  One of the issues with high efficiency machines is that you don't have as much control about how much water is added to the machine because it is programed to be efficient and therefore not use as much water.  People have many techniques that they use to trick their machine (e.g. adding wet towels or pouring water over their diapers before starting) but what works well for me is to run a rinse/spin cycle and set the spin to none.  This makes it so that the machine saturates my diapers and then doesn't spin out the extra water making them heavier and therefore increasing the water my machine uses in the next cycle.  The next cycle I run is a delicate cycle on warm (see Bummis link below for reasons I use warm instead of cold), the cycle runs about 40 minutes.  I follow this rinse type cycle with my hot wash.  I was on "whitest whites", hot water and set the rinse to the maximum setting (I have the options: normal, extra and max).  I only use detergent in the last cycle and I have a strong preference for Tide original powder.  This last cycle lasts about an hour and a half.  After the hot wash I put all of my wipes and inserts into the dryer on medium and I hang dry all of my shells.  Hang drying your shells will make the PUL and elastic last longer.

Note that when developing your wash cycle you should consider your diaper manufacturers recommendations and what may void your diaper warranty.  Because I have a dozen or more brands, it is difficult for me to make all of the different recommendations jive and still get clean diapers.

Here are some links that I have found helpful in my research:

Your wash routine may change based on if you have hard or soft water, therefore checking out the U.S. Geological Survey Water Quality Information site will be helpful in determining your routine.

Bummis has released a Laundry Science study that I think has a lot of great information.

Padded tush stats has a great chart for solving stink issues.


  1. So we just moved and purchased a front loading HE washer (previously had an OLD old school washer). Anyhow, we do essentially do the same thing for my cloth now. I do one rinse & spin (pre wash if you will) with warm water and spin it out to rid as much junk as I can. Then I do another rinse spin on warm with no spin to get some extra water in there. I do a hot wash with detergent (which is a 2 hr ordeal) and then an extra rinse in warm water. I probably need to check the water quality we have going on now in SC because my youngest (which by the way you have good taste in names :) has developed a diaper rash that I am having trouble kicking (never had this problem before) so I am wondering if it is an ammonia rash like I"m not getting all the ammonia out of the diapers? I have no idea. My other thought is maybe I'm using too much detergent with the HE machine. How much detergent do you use? I've been using 1/2 TBLS and we use the powered rockin green.

    1. I use powdered Tide to the 1 line which is about 2-3 TBSP. when I used RnG I used 2 heaping tablespoons. One thing I read that always stuck with me is why use less detergent for dirty diapers than you would use for other laundry, so I always use the full recommended amount. And honestly once I switched to tide my diapers seemed a lot cleaner and the inserts came out bright white.