Cloth Diapers – Washing Routine

While there are a million and one ways to wash cloth diapers, it can still be an intimidating aspect of using cloth.  I have been surprised to find that the process of getting the (sometimes pretty frighteningly “icky”) diapers clean is not nearly as awful or complicated as I first thought.  However, the fact remains, you will just have to get over dealing with poop.  And, even though it may be your own beautiful, sweet, perfect little baby’s poop, it is still poop, and it is sometimes…well, awful.  But, no matter if you are using disposable or cloth, you are pretty much up to your eyeballs in the stuff anyway, especially if you are lucky enough to have more than one kiddo in diapers at a time.  So, how bad can it be to be a little more “hands on,” right?
Okay, so if you are still reading and not completely grossed out, hopefully this post will help provide some helpful information on washing cloth.  At the very least, here is the routine and laundry-related products that have worked well so far for us. 
1.  Diaper Liners – As I mentioned in Cloth Diapers – The Supply, diaper liners are a life saver.  We are currently using these flushable liners from Bumkins.  Basically, you just place the liners between the kiddo and the diaper to catch the stuff you don’t want to go into the wash (aka…the poop).  And, I highly recommend using them every time, because I’m convinced that every time you do not use one – even if your child has, you know, pooped, five times already that day and you are sure there can be nothing left – you will be left to deal with what Murphy’s Law has dealt you – the worst, most awful “stuff” you have ever seen.  I speak from experience on this one. 😉

However, if you were smart and did use a liner, all you need to do is lift it up, drop it in the toilet, and flush the stuff away.  Which is soooo much better than, well…I haven’t exactly come up with a good alternative yet.  (It is worth mentioning that liners usually aren’t necessary until your kiddo is on something other than breastmilk.  Though rarely discussed, another benefit of breastfeeding is that the poo just washes completely away.  You don’t even need to separate it!)
2.  GroVia Pail Liner – I have two lined laundry bags, and I keep one upstairs in the nursery and one downstairs in an out-of-the-way location.  These bags hold the dirty diapers until I do the laundry.  They are waterproof and contain the smell pretty well.  You can also just toss them in the washer (and dryer) with the diapers, which is convenient.  This is all I do in terms of storing the dirty diapers.  I do not soak them before washing.


3.  Yoreganics Soap Nuts –  These soap nuts are actually berries (and not nuts) and they are a very natural and cost efficient detergent.  You simply put a handful of dried berries into the laundry bag – the smaller bag pictured – and toss the whole thing into the wash.  Typically, this is all I use.  You can reuse the same berries for multiple washes, so one bag lasts a really long time.

Washing Routine:

I wash cloth diapers 2-3 times each week.  When I change the boys’ diapers I remove the liner and any “stuff” it dutifully collected and flush it.  Then, I put the dirty diaper in the pail liner and close it up.  Quick word of advice…you may want to have a plunger in the house.  We often have clogs, not due to the volume – though sometimes this wouldn’t surprise me – but rather due to the shape.  We had this problem a lot when our newly walking toddlers would “plop” down on their bottoms, and well, make a poo pancake.  😉  Toilet drains are not pancake shaped, so you might have to help it with a few plunges.

When the bag(s) get full-ish, I do a load of diapers in our washing machine.  Here is my routine.

Step 1:  Empty all diapers into the wash and run a cold rinse cycle with no soap.  Separate all the inserts from the covers and close all the velcro tabs.  I usually have the load volume on large or super.

Step 2:  When the rinse cycle has finished, change the temperature to hot and add the detergent (again, I use Soap Nuts).

Step 3:  When the hot wash cycle has finished, throw the inserts into the dryer.  Most covers can also go into the dryer, but I like to hang mine to dry on a rack.  I think it helps them to last longer.  Also, if it is sunny, you can take them outside.  The sun works like magic to remove stains!  I couldn’t believe it the first time I saw it happen!

With a little practice and flexibility, you will likely find a system that works for you.  My best advice is to ask around to see what works for people you know using cloth.  Or, if you are lucky enough to have a store that carries cloth diapers near you, go check it out, see the products, and ask lots of questions.  Comfy Bummy was really helpful for me when I was first getting started.  They have a great website,, which has lots of helpful advice.

Looking for more info on cloth diapers?  Check out the following posts…

Cloth Diapers – The Supply –  See what we have in our stash
Cloth Diapers – Stain Removal – 3 tips for getting out tough stains



  1. Your tip about the sun removing poop stains is PRICELESS!!! I thought about you today as I hung a stained onesie in my (sunny) kitchen window. Nice, huh? :)

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