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Cloth Diapers

Everyone is Saying Different Things about How to Wash Cloth Diapers! (And I Have Anxiety about It Now.)

“Wash ONLY in hot water, otherwise they’re going to be filthy!
“OMG never wash in hot water, ONLY cold!”
“Don’t use any detergent with scent or you will RUIN THEM!”
“Use your favorite scented detergent to keep them smelling fresh.”
“Do a pre-wash, then wash just like normal.”
“Wash like normal, except do an extra rinse at the end.”
“Never use the dryer, you will RUIN THEM! Only air dry.”
“Yeah go ahead and use the dryer, it’s totally fine.”

Mamas, the point is, people use different methods here and for the most part, the diapies are coming clean and they ain’t ruined! No one’s declarations, regardless of how confident, about how to best wash cloth diapers should supersede your diaper tags.

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I can’t say for sure which is the ultimate “best,” but I can tell you what the manufacturers of my three different brands of cloth diapers say:

  • My GroVia tags say to wash warm, tumble dry. No bleach needed. No fabric softeners.
  • My Smart Bottoms tags say to wash warm, with no bleach and no softener. (They do not discuss drying either way that I see.)
  • My bumGenius tags say to wash the diapers cold OR warm, and to double rinse. No additives or softeners. They suggest line drying rather than using a dryer.

In fact, here’s a breakdown of some major brands’ care instructions in chart form: (I only checked yes on the things they were clear about.)

So clearly the best method depends on your brand, though one common denominator between all these is that warm water is good. I’ve read in a couple places that the old dry-cleaning adage is to remove the stain with the temperature that it was created in. So, pee and poo = WARM. Makes sense to me.

In general, remove a stain with the temperature that it was created in.
So, pee and poo = WARM.

I wash my three brands together and I can tell you that I personally wash them in a warm/cold cycle, and give them an extra rinse at the end. Then I usually lay them over my porch railing to dry, and fluff them in the dryer at the end just for a few minutes to de-stiff-ify them. (That’s a valid word.) I don’t use dryer sheets or a wool ball or anything. That’s it. But some people swear by a pre-wash and I definitely won’t argue with that. Heck, I might even try it for fun at some point.  

All-in-all, just follow the instructions on your cloth diapers (simply look them up online if you buy pre-loved) and you should be safe. I had a fair amount of anxiety about how to wash my cloth diapers when I first got them because people were so adamant about one way or the other. I didn’t want to “RUUUIIIIN THEEEEM! RUUUIIIN!”

I let go of that anxiety along the way 🙂 You can always strip them if needed at some point, but they probably won’t fall apart if you don’t double rinse, if you put them in the dryer, if you use a scented detergent, etc., etc.

I love this from KangaCare:

“The number one thing to remember when caring for your diapers is they are just another load! There is no magical solution that you should need and no crazy tricks.”

So just read your tags and wash ‘em, mamas! And don’t sweat it.

13 Comments

  • Susan
    July 31, 2020 at 12:36 pm

    Very informative article. The table comparing the major brands of cloth diapers is especially helpful.

    Reply
    • Tasha
      August 1, 2020 at 9:19 pm

      Thanks, Susan! Glad you found it helpful. It can be confusing when starting out for sure!

      Reply
  • ashley t
    August 27, 2020 at 1:39 am

    I don’t use cloth diapers but I have friends that do and they love them.

    Reply
  • Lisa
    August 27, 2020 at 5:16 am

    So much information, it is nice to see you sorted it all out. So informative.

    Reply
  • Sonia Seivwright
    August 27, 2020 at 10:40 pm

    I never knew cloth diapers were actually a thing. Would have saved a lot of money and time when my little girl was a baby.

    Reply
    • Tasha
      August 27, 2020 at 11:46 pm

      Sonia, I know. I wasn’t really aware of them until I was reading all about babies while pregnant. I thought disposables were it. I knew people used to use cloth along with diaper pins and all “back in the day” but I didn’t know there was a modern, easier version!

      Reply
  • Marysa
    August 28, 2020 at 11:42 am

    Cloth diapering can be such a complex thing! I remember being overwhelmed when I wanted to do cloth diapering. It is good to do the research before committing.

    Reply
    • Tasha
      August 28, 2020 at 12:09 pm

      Knowing how they work makes it much less scary, and buying pre-loved as well, since not as many commitment dollars are flying out of your pocket that way!

      Reply
  • Shania Muise
    August 29, 2020 at 11:19 am

    I’ve never personally used cloth but these tips are super helpful!

    Thank you!

    Reply
  • Shayla Marie
    August 29, 2020 at 6:10 pm

    I can totally relate to the diaper washing anxiety, lol! I actually did ruin a batch of my flip covers from putting them in the drier.

    Reply
  • Heather Behrends
    August 29, 2020 at 6:18 pm

    This post is SO Helpful! I never used cloth diapers for this reason – yikes. I love the chart you made and posted too for quick reference.

    Reply
  • Jasmine Hewitt
    August 31, 2020 at 2:48 pm

    This was frustrating for us when we did cloth. “Verified routines” ended up ruining our diapers.

    Reply
  • Bailey
    September 4, 2020 at 4:33 pm

    I love this <3
    Signed,
    your favourite cloth diaper blogger advocating for less verification and more honesty in cloth diapering

    Reply

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