How To Launder Cloth Diapers

Regardless of what type of cloth diaper you choose, regular washing is going to be part of their maintenance routine. In fact, experts recommend washing cloth diapers once before their first use, as this will increase their absorbency. Listed below are a few Do’s and Don’ts when it comes to washing cloth diapers:


For increased stain removal, you can soak soiled diapers if you prefer. However, there are a few cloth diaper brands with waterproof covers that should never be soaked, so be sure to check the manufacturer’s washing instructions. Some parents keep soiled cloth diapers in a pail with a water and baking soda mixture, which isn’t recommended. Soaking for too many hours will set the stains. You can also rinse soiled diapers out in a tub or sink prior to adding them to the wash.


Always use gentle detergents that don’t have any enzymes, additives (whiteners or brighteners), or fragrances. Baking soda and vinegar can be used in the wash for some extra stain/odor fighting power. Also avoid fabric softeners that could possibly irritate a baby’s skin. Exceptions are adding a shot of bleach to the load if an infection is present, but it should be used sparingly. Bleach causes the absorbent fibers to break down more rapidly, and can stain diaper covers.


Especially for heavily soiled loads, limit your wash load to around 18-20 diapers at a time. Also, wash cloth diapers in their own separate load. For cotton diapers, you should use a cold prewash cycle, then set the wash cycle to use hot water. Again, consult the washing instructions for your specific diapers, as very hot temperatures can cause the outer waterproof layers to degrade.

Ensure that after the rinse cycle that there remains no detergent residue in the diaper. If necessary, put the diaper load back in for an additional rinse. When the entire wash cycle is completed, the diapers should smell fresh. If odors linger, it could be a sign that the diapers still contain bacteria.


Velcro fasteners should be closed when drying so as to not damage the diapers. There are some brands that may be damaged by the high heat of a dryer, so if your manufactures instructions advise against machine drying, air drying is an option as well.


Be sure to devise a laundry schedule that works with your lifestyle. The more often you wash, the less diapers you have to have on hand to make it between washings. Here’s a handy little guide that gives you an idea on how many diapers you’ll need:

  • Newborns – Up to 18 diapers a day
  • 6-12 months – 12 diapers a day
  • 18 months and up – 9 diapers a day
  • Potty training (Toddlers) – 3 to 5 a day

The most important thing to remember is check the manufacturer’s instructions of your specific cloth diaper for their recommendations. If washed and dried with care, your cloth diapers should last for years.

To learn more on how to launder cloth diapers, contact at (855) 797-BABY.