Go to Guide on cloth diaper care


Stick with fragrance free detergents. Be sure to avoid detergents with whitening enzymes such as Fabricare.

  • Do not use Borox or bleach. Both of these products are harsh on cloth diapers. They will break down their fibers and reduce their life. Also, they are rough against your baby's skin.
  • Avoid washing cloth diapers with *soap* products since repeated washing with soap creates a waxy build-up that reduces the absorbency of cloth diapers.
What Is Detergent Residue?

Detergent Residue is a film that is left behind on clothing or in this case cloth diapers. Why is this a problem? Detergent build-up and residue can lead to repelling or beading of liquid, leaks and wicking, skin rashes and irritation, stinky diapers and diaper covers, and a dulling of color. These all present problems for cloth diaper users so it is best to try and avoid detergent build-up and residue. Residue problems are usually caused by additives in your detergent such as brighteners, fabric
softeners, natural additives like citrus extract or grape seed extract, soaps, and stain guards.
Well, what if it is too late and you have a build-up problem? The most common method for removing residue is to strip diapers.
A study on detergent residues that compares ecover, biokleen, country save, and others can be found here.

Why Avoid these Ingredients?

  • Pure Soap: Pure soaps are the more natural choice in the world of cleaners, but soaps will leave a residue on your diapers and covers – similar to the soap scum you find in your tub. Soap scum on diapers makes them repel moisture rather than absorb it and it is also harsh on the laminates used in your diaper covers, making them absorb rather than repel water. The best choice for washing your diapers is to use detergent on them.
  • Fabric Softeners: Fabric softener, either in liquid or sheet form – leaves a water-repelling residue on your diapers, making them less absorbent and useful in the very purpose that they serve. It also coats your diaper covers and can deteriorate their water-proof laminate. If your diapers NEED softening add 1/2 cup baking soda to the rinse cycle of your wash. You can also try a commercial green fabric softener like Natural Choices Home Safe Product’s Safe ‘N Soft, Ecover’s Natural Fabric Softener, or Sun & Earth’s Ultra Fabric Softener. Dryer Balls also help soften laundry.
Recommended Detergents:
  • Allens  Naturally
  • All Free Clear
  • Trader Joe's Cleanliness is Next to Godliness
  • Eco Sprout
  • Rock in Green
  • Eco Nuts
  • A Happy Green Life

Detergents to avoid like the plague:
These have all found to cause build up in diapers that lead to repelling or odor problems!
  • Arm and Hammer
  • Dreft
  • Ivory
Detergents that can cause burning in some babies:
  • Sensi Clean
  • Sports Wash
  • Charlie's Soap
While these soaps are highly recommended for cloth diapers, for some children it can cause burns, avoid them if your child has sensitive skin.
If you child develops a rash/burns/boils after switching detergents, assume it is the detergent - then strip your diapers and switch detergents ASAP!

  • Wash and dry new cloth diapers 5 to 10 times with a little detergent to remove chemicals & the sizing so the fabrics can do the job they are supposed to do! This will also increase the absorbency of your cloth diapers.Hemp and Bamboo should be prepped separate from cotton and microfiber diaper. Once this is done they may be added to the wash with all diapers.
  • Do not use both baking soda and vinegar together or for every wash as this can cause an odor problem when these two are combined!
Overnight Soak Method Steps:
  •  Pre-Wash. Place all cloth diapers in the washer, and run a pre-wash in cold water. This will remove most of the loose particles from the cloth diapers.
  • Overnight Soak. Refill the washer with cold water and 1/2 cup of baking soda. Let it agitate for a minute or two, then turn off the machine and let the cloth diapers soak several hours or overnight. Drain the water (I run a pre-wash to do this.) Baking soda is a base and neutralizes the urine in the cloth diapers. This is very effective in whitening and removing the smell from the cloth diapers.
  • Hot Wash. Empty the bin and run the wash with hot water & a small amount of detergent
  • Double Rinse!!! (Add about 1/2 cup of vinegar during the first rinse, if you have not used baking soda in the pre-rinse or wash. If you have a washer with a fabric softener compartment pour the vinegar there when starting the hot wash. Otherwise you can throw in a Downy ball filled with vinegar.)
**I sometimes also follow this up with a quick hot wash cycle with no detergent to prevent build up!

No Soak Method Steps
If you prefer not to soak your diapers or if you only have access to a coin operated machine follow this method:
  •  Cold Wash. Place all your soiled cloth diapers in the machine with baking soda for a cold water wash.
  •  Hot Wash. Add your wet cloth diapers to load, add detergent and baking soda and wash in hot water.
  • Rinse. Rinse cloth diapers with cold water (and vinegar if baking soda not used in cold or hot wash)
  •  2nd Rinse. Rinse cloth diapers with cold water.
To dry them
To extend the life of your cloth diapers and covers,hang them dry. It is especially important to do this with AIO's and diaper covers to preserve their waterproofing ability.

  • You can dry them in a dryer on high at least once for products made with PUL(this helps seal the seams in the PUL), and after that on medium, or you can line dry them. Some companies using the dryer will void their warranty. Double check their website.
  • Any diaper product without PUL or a waterproofing layer such as prefolds, inserts and some fitted diapers can be dried in the dryer on low heat.

My list of Favorite Tips

  • DO NOT USE ANY FABRIC SOFTENER ON ANY products w/ fleece- IT WILL RUIN THE FLEECE!!! This includes dryer sheets.
  • Flush poopy down the potty. It's a mess in your washing machine.
  • put the poopy diapers in the washing machine for a rinse only cycle and then add the rest.
  • If you have any staining problem it is recommended that you line dry them in the sun - it does a really nice job of taking care of those stains without any harsh chemicals!
  • Hemp products- If your AIO diapers, pocket diapers using new insert, AIO Trainers or Cotton Trainers that contain hemp layers & are nearly new and are leaking, the hemp is not fully prepped yet. This takes 5 - 8 hot washes and drying on high to remove all the oils from the hemp.
  • DO NOT wash NEW Hemp INSERTS/SOAKERS/AIO DIAPERS or TRAINERS (with hemp layers) with OLD ONES - the hemp oils will adhere to the new ones and cause repelling! Or any of your older diapers cotton, fleece and micro fiber included. 5 to 8 washes later you can add them to your normal diaper wash.
  • Natural fibers absorbency improves over time. This includes cotton, hemp and bamboo.
  • DO NOT wash NEW Bamboo INSERTS/SOAKERS/AIO DIAPERS or TRAINERS (with bamboo layers) with OLD ONES - bamboo oils will adhere to the new ones and cause repelling! Or any of your older diapers cotton, fleece and micro fiber included. 3 to 5 washes later you can add them to your normal diaper wash
Repelling Issues:
If you are experiencing repelling issues in the diaper/trainer, then you need to strip out the offending substance and prevent future build up by determining what is causing it.
Possible culprits are detergents, diaper creams (use diaper liners and prewash them in hot separately from the diaper/trainers), hemp oils (don't wash hemp inserts with diapers until they have been boiled and ashed/dried at least 10 times), and hard water (get a water softener).
  1. To strip these out, add a large pot of boiling water to your wash cycle (be very careful not to burn yourself or your child - maybe use two smaller pots and make sure your walkway is clear).
  2. Wash once with a tsp of  dish washing detergent and the boiling water followed by an extra rinse. (If you are dealing with detergent build up, start them on another wash cycle with no detergent and agitate for a few minutes, then look at the water to see if you have bubbles - if there are bubbles, repeat the boiling cycle. Keep doing this until all bubbles are gone). If you are dealing with ointment, oil, or hard water build up, the bubble test won't work. If the repelling issue is not solved by doing the boiling/liquid dish soap cycle once, try again as a second time should do the trick.
Odor Issues:
Leaving diapers/trainers or inserts in a pail too long or improper washing methods can lead to odor issues. You need to strip the diapers/trainers/inserts by following the same instructions as above for repelling. Boiling water has been proven to remove even the most nasty
odor problems.
To prevent this from happening again, be sure you are using an approved detergent, use vinegar in the rinse OR baking soda in the wash (but DON'T use them both as that causes odor problems due to build up), wash at least every 4 days, and/or rinse soiled diapers and trainers more thoroughly.

There you have it... all the BEST information I have compiled for over a year! Enjoy cloth diapering! I do.