The internet is full of confusing and conflicting information on how to wash cloth diapers. You will read about pre-washes, real washes, double and even triple rinses, and warnings that your diapers will spontaneously combust if you don’t use the right soap. (Okay… that’s an exaggeration but still…)
Disclosure: We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites
Then comes the topic of “stripping diapers.” This is when you do a special wash of the diapers to remove any residual soap build-up that may be causing your diapers to smell, leak, or cause diaper rash over time. Usually blue Dawn dish soap is used for this, but I have seen people recommend bleach or special packets from various companies to do the job. Following the strip you must run several rinse cycles to get rid of any bleach or Dawn left in the diapers.
I want to share our laundering routine, as that is what intimidated me the most when we started this journey, and what has actually turned out to be very easy in the end.
The best part is that we are 3.5 years into cloth diapering and we have not found stripping our diapers necessary one single time!
(I did strip them once about about 6 months after Philomena was born, thinking they were the cause of my daughter’s diaper rash. That turned out to be caused by teething, and completely unrelated to the diapers. The strip was never actually necessary, and they’ve never been stripped again 3 full years later.)
So here is the disclaimer… Everyone has different diapers, water, and laundry machines. I am just sharing the routine that has worked perfectly for us whether we have been using our top-loader machine and our water types in Ohio and Nebraska, or front-load machines with different water types at both of our parents’ homes.
Here is our routine (more specific instructions follow):
1. Cold rinse cycle
2. Hot wash cycle
3. Air dry outer shell, dry inserts in machine
(Find a full list of our accessories here)
We keep a basic Hefty trash can in our bathroom with a wet bag liner in it. After a diaper change, the wet diaper gets tossed in there, no fuss, just like a disposable.
(My *favorite* wetbag to line the trash can with is this one found on Amazon from PlanetWise. It doesn’t leak, smell, or wear out quickly, and it was designed to fit in a 13 gallon trash can!)
If the diaper needs spraying, we use this super handy cloth diaper sprayer. We bought ours used on a local Facebook page, but you can find a similar one here on Amazon. A quick spray cleans all of the waste off into the toilet where it belongs, and it can then be tossed into the can.
One more accessory you might consider if you get the diaper sprayer is a SprayPal, found here on Amazon. This is a plastic file folder looking thing that snaps out to be a tube that you clip the diaper into so that any splatter is contained as you spray. I actually don’t use this – I spray diapers so often I have the hang of angling it just right not to make a mess. But Ethan is only dealing with diapers on weekends so he likes this since he has a harder time with splatter.
On diaper day (for us Mondays and Fridays) I throw all of the diapers and the wet bag into the washing machine and set it for a cold rinse cycle.
This quick rinse and spin gets most of the pee and waste off of the diapers so they can actually be cleaned, and using cold water won’t set in any stains.
A hot, deep water wash and a full cap of detergent will get those diapers good and clean. Using the hottest water and the highest water level for your machine is important for the wash.
The outer shells with elastic and the wet bag are hung out to air dry, and the inserts go into the dryer.
There, that wasn’t too scary, was it? If you’re interested in seeing some videos of me doing this routine, head on over to my Instagram, and there they’re saved on my main page with the other Story Highlights!
If you have a complicated routine that is driving you crazy, or if you are considering cloth diapering for the first time, try a simple routine like this and you may find it way easier to have clean diapers than you thought.
Pin this post for later…
5 thoughts on “No-Strip Cloth Diaper Laundry Routine”
My Katie, a.k.a. Katherine, told me that I’d be interested in your blog…was curious about the cloth diapers as my family growing up used only cloth diapers covered by plastic pants when going somewhere & cloth diapers alone if at home ..I helped with my younger brothers…dont know if disposable diapers had been invented…when we had our first baby, Katie, we couldn’t afford much, had a couple dozen cloth diapers made from birdseye cotton that had to be folded and attached on either side of baby with big diaper pins, a few plastic/rubber pants, one pack of diaper pins, maybe 6 receiving blankets, a crib quilt that I made,6 white undershirts, 6 gowns (that I made from soft flannel cotton referred to as “oudding”, maybe 3 kimonos (that I also made), some bibs I made from old terry cloth towels and lined with an old cotton sheet…had rick rack trim and I embroidered flowers and animals on the front, 6 pairs of booties, and a friend bought her a little green dress to come home from the hospital…dont think I’ve told her any of this…Rudy was on a Navy ship in the Mediterranean when she was born , so it was just me and my friend Barbara as I lived 550 miles from my family. Anyway, to clean the really old style cloth diapers, I would dip them up and down in the commode to rinse off everything, squeeze them out and put in a plastic covered pail that I kept in the bathroom. When the pail was full, every few days, I’d wash the soiled diapers by hand with the cheapest powder detergent available…liquid clothes detergents weren’t invented yet & I couldn’t afford fabric softener…. as we had no washing machine and hang them on the backyard clothes line to dry…I actually loved the idea of disposable diapers but couldn’t afford them and sometimes bought a few to use for when I took Katie somewhere as having to tote a dirty cloth diaper inside a diaper bag was a problem…no plastic grocery bags back then to use for this purpose ..only thing was every time I was able to splurge and get disposable diapers to use on Katie she’d break out in awful diaper rash…finally decided she was allergic to something in the disposable diapers and gave up using them entirely for her…disposable diapers back then were poorly made and clumped up if the baby wet very much and pretty much fell apart anyway..don’t know what material they used for them then, but it wasn’t good…wish I’d had that commode sprayer attachment and the Velcro type fasteners on the new version of cloth diapers would have saved me sticking my fingers with the diaper pin as I always put my finger between the diaper and the baby so I wouldn’t stick the baby as Mama had taught me to do
It sounds like Katie had a wonderful, simple set of baby things. My mom cloth diapered like you did, with the safety pins and rubber pants. My parents were astonished how far cloth diapers have come! Thanks for sharing ❤
We have been cloth diapering of and on for 3 years. I use prefolds and AIOs. My biggest struggle is ammonia buildup. I even have this happening to diapers that have only been used a few times. Do you have any insight on what causes this and how to prevent it? Also do you have any recommendations on how to remove the buildup?
Thank you so much and God Bless
Patricia, I totally want to help you with this. What is your current wash routine like? If you’re getting a lot of build up I would assume that you’re not getting all of your detergent out of the diapers.
If you can let me know what your whole routine as far as wash cycles, brand of detergent, how frequently you wash etc. I can maybe help find the issue.
If you would rather email me at thenaturalcatholicmom (at) gmail . com, I’ll gladly troubleshoot with you that way.