Cleaning Cloth Diapers

Congratulations on your new little bundle of joy!

Choosing to go with cloth diapers or disposable diapers is a personal preference. At least it is for the parents.

It must be much more comfortable for the baby to be in an all-natural, chemical-free cotton diaper than a plastic one that’s been treated with chemicals, dyes and perfumes.

Now that you’ve made your choice, you should know that cleaning cloth diapers isn’t really all that difficult.

Flushable Liners:

Cleaning cloth diapers will be much easier if you use flushable liners. Environmentally friendly, unbleached, biodegradable liners go between your baby’s skin and the nappy.

They allow air and urine to pass through to the diaper, but prevent solids from doing so. There will be a lot less rinsing of solids, aka, poop, if you use liners. There will also be a lot less staining.

Wash Before Using:

Most cloth diapers need to be washed before their first use, especially if they’re made of unbleached cotton or a cotton blend. Follow the manufacturer’s directions, as some cloth diapers need to be washed several times before the first use.

It’s in your best interest to do this, as new, unwashed diapers will not be as absorbent as you need them to be.

Flush the Solids:

If you use cloth diaper liners, toss or flush the liner. If you don’t use the liners, you’ll need to flush the solids and rinse the dirty, smelly, poopy cloth diaper. (Now do you want to use liners?)

Most people swish the dirty diaper in the toilet to remove any remaining feces.

To Soak or Not to Soak:

If you don’t use liners, you really should soak cloth diapers before you launder them. To soak cloth diapers, you’ll need a diaper pail and 1/4 cup of distilled vinegar:

  • Fill the diaper pail halfway with cold water
  • Add the vinegar and stir

Soak until laundry day, or until your mother-in-law arrives, whichever comes first.


When you’re ready to wash the cloth diapers, you’ll need to do the following:

  • Put the soaking diapers in the washing machine and run on the “spin” cycle to remove excess water
  • Pre-wash on cold
  • Wash on the “heavy” or longest cycle your washer using hot or warm water, whichever you prefer
  • When it’s time to add the detergent, add 1/2 c of baking soda and a small amount of regular laundry detergent
  • Put through the rinse cycle again to make sure all detergent is removed or your baby’s skin may be irritated
  • You can add 1/2 c distilled white vinegar to this final rinse cycle
  • Dry on “low” until the diapers are dry

Don’t Use Bleach:

Never use bleach or any kind of commercial laundry detergent that has chlorine bleach in it. Instead of cleaning cloth diapers, bleach will destroy the cotton fibers, reduce absorbency and will more than likely irritate your baby’s skin.

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