How to Wash Cloth Diapers

If you’ve always wanted to try cloth diapering but are a little unsure about the washing aspect, you’re not alone. Many moms and dads are hesitant to choose cloth diapers over disposable ones simply because they think washing is overly complicated or messy. After more than 100 years in the laundry industry, we’re here to tell you that washing cloth diapers is not nearly as difficult (or gross) as you might think. While there are different wash methods, the main process generally stays the same — rinse, cold prewash, hot wash, and dry. Simple as that! We’re breaking down how to wash your cloth diapers step by step below — and adding in some helpful tips and advice as we go!

Step #1: Prepare the diapers for washing.

For sanitary reasons and best wash results, you’ll want to rinse poopy cloth diapers before washing.

  • You can easily rinse them in the toilet with a diaper sprayer or using a Potty Pail.
  • Once you finish rinsing, carefully wring the diaper out. This helps prevent mold growth between washes.
  • After it has been wrung out, you can place it in the diaper pail or storage bin until wash day.

Pee-filled diapers generally don’t require rinsing, although it is recommended to reduce staining. Otherwise, simply place them in the storage bin until you’re ready to wash.

Step #2: Prewash the diapers in cold water.

On wash day, you’ll want to start with a cold water rinse. This is an important first step because it helps reduce staining.

  • Use the pre-soak option or pre-wash option on your washing machine, if available.
  • Use detergent and RLR, a laundry treatment product that loosens minerals in the fabric that hold on to urine and fecal matter. 
  • Add a scoop of OxiClean to sanitize.

Step #3: Wash the diapers in very hot water.

After the cold-water rinse cycle, you can continue on with a full hot water wash to finish cleaning the diapers.

  • Use the heavy-duty cycle setting.
  • Add an extra rinse to reduce residue. The more water, the better.
  • Add the recommended amount of detergent for your washer.

Step #4: Dry the cloth diapers.

This is the final step in the process. One of the most popular methods is air drying — either outside or indoors on a clothesline. However, let’s be honest, that isn’t always an option for busy parents due to time and/or weather.

For faster drying, follow the below instructions for putting cloth diapers in the dryer.

  • Use a low heat or air-dry setting on your dryer.
  • Set the drying time at the lowest possible amount, you may need to interrupt your first few cycles to get an understanding of how long the diapers really need in the dryer.

How often should I wash my baby’s cloth diapers?

You don’t want to let the diapers sit too long, as that can result in odor, stains, and mildew, and impact the diaper’s absorbency. Generally, we recommend washing a load of cloth diapers every two or three days.

Take a look at how this Speed Queen owner cleans her little one’s cloth diapers:

Here at Speed Queen, we understand how busy parents are. We also know that you’d probably much rather be spending time with your little one (or taking a much-needed rest) than doing laundry. That’s why our machines are designed to deliver fast cycle times while providing the highest quality wash results. No muss. No fuss. Just clean diapers and a happy baby.