Caring for Cloth Diapers

Although almost every cloth diaper manufacturer has their own specific laundering instructions and recommended detergents, we’ve put together some general guidelines that seem to apply consistently across brands. That being said, we highly recommend that you seek out the specific washing instructions that your brand of cloth diapers recommends.

Preparing Your Diapers for Use

As with just about any product that you are going to be putting up against your baby’s skin, you’re going to want to make sure that you wash your cloth diapers before use. Washing cloth diapers rids them of any natural oils and waxes that may exist on the fabric and helps them to reach their maximum absorbency. Cloth diapers that are made of natural fabrics, such as cotton or hemp, reach their maximum absorbency between 1-3 washes so giving them a few runs through the washer before use can get them well on their way to performing at their full capacity. If you choose to wash just once, be sure to then test the absorbency with the method mentioned below. Wash using hot water and the appropriate amount of detergent for the load size. Diapers that are made of synthetic fibers are readily absorbent and do not require multiple washes before use.

Testing Absorbency:

·Testing natural fibers: To test the absorbency of your cotton or hemp diapers, pour a small amount of water on to the fabric. It should absorb immediately.

·Testing synthetic or ‘stay-dry’ fibers: To test the absorbency of your polyester, micro-fleece and micro-fiber diapers, pour a small amount of water on the fabric. You will have to press down on the fabric to facilitate absorbency.

In both cases, if the liquid beads off of the fabric, you will need to wash your diapers again.

Dealing with Dirty Diapers

·Remove the soiled diaper from your baby

·If your baby is less than 6 months old, breastfed, and/or not yet eating solid food, simply toss the dirty diaper into your diaper pail

·If your baby is having solid bowel movements, you must first shake the movement off of the diaper and into the toilet before putting it in your diaper pail. We recommend using a biodegradable and flushable liner in your cloth diapers so that you can just shake the liner out, movement included, and flush it down the toilet. Another option is to use a diaper sprayer to spray solid movements into the toilet before putting your diapers in your pail. Using a diaper sprayer is also an effective way to combat stains.

·When you are down to about 6 clean diapers, it’s time to launder your dirty diapers.

Washing Dirty Diapers

If you have a top loading washing machine:

·Set the machine to the appropriate load size

·Run a pre-wash cycle with cold water.

·Add the recommended amount of detergent for the chosen load size

·Wash in a hot cycle and rinse in a warm or cold cycle, based on your preference.

If you have a front loading or high efficiency washing machine:

·Set the machine to the heavy soiled setting and choose the appropriate load size.

·Run a pre-wash cycle with cold water. Double check with High Efficiency machines that your pre-wash includes a spin cycle.

·Add the recommended amount of High Efficiency detergent for the chosen load size

·Wash in a hot cycle and rinse in warm or cold cycle, based on your preference.

Drying Your Diapers

·Toss your diapers and covers in the dryer. Make sure that any hook and loop closures are fastened to prevent pulling. When possible, hang dry your covers to dry for best results.

·Hanging your diapers to dry can help to prolong your diapers life, and hanging them in the sun is the most natural and effective way to bleach out stains. Make sure to hang your diapers outdoors, or in a well-ventilated indoor area. Do not hang your diapers to dry in dark and damp environments.


One of the questions we hear most from people who are new to cloth diapering is “which laundry detergent should I use?” People often worry that their detergent choice will play a large role in their success with cloth diapering. This is in part true – most of the issues that arise with cloth diapers stem from a residue build-up on diapers that is often the result of using an ineffective detergent. In general, regardless of what type of laundry detergent you have, you want to make sure that it doesn’t contain fabric softener or nut oils. If you are using an “Eco-Friendly” detergent, use more than the recommended amount and always wash in hot water.

If you have hard water, you may also want to use 1 TBSP more than the recommended amount. You can also add a water softener to the load. If you are unsure if you have hard water, you can order a water testing kit from your municipality.

While it is up to you what laundry detergent you use to wash your cloth diapers in, we highly recommend avoiding detergents that have any of the following additives:

·Fabric softener


·U.V. Brighteners

·Stain Guard Ingredients

Kind Laundry Detergent is a tried & tested brand of detergent that will not cause any issues when used with cloth diapers. For best results with Kind Detergent:

  • Add half of the recommended amount of detergent to the pre-wash
  • Use one and a half times the recommended amount of detergent in the main wash

Stain Removal

A common concern with cloth diapers is that there will be no way to get stains out of them. The best way to get rid of stains on cloth diapers is to hang your clean diapers in the sun to dry. The sun will naturally bleach out stains and leave your diapers fresh. If you use laundry stain removers on your cloth diapers, make sure to thoroughly rinse the treated diapers to ensure that no stain remover remains in the fabric.


As we mentioned earlier, most of the trouble that arises with cloth diapering has to do with a buildup of residue. If you find that your cloth diapers have started to leak, have developed a strange odour or are not absorbing the way that they used to, you may have a residue issue. The good news is that this is an easy problem to remedy.

If you’re experiencing leaks because the diapers aren’t absorbing:

If your cloth diapers are leaking, you must first you determine the cause. Have you used a fabric softener or a bum cream that may have left a residue on your diapers? Even some stain remover sticks can cause a buildup on synthetic materials. If you believe your diapers have lost their absorbency but don’t have an odour, try the following steps:

·Soak the clean items in warm/hot water

·Use a little bit of grease fighting dish soap, rub the items together and create a good lather

·Let the diapers soak for about 5 minutes

·Rub the items together again, making sure to work the soapy water into the fabric

·Drain and rinse well

·Put in the washing machine and do a regular hot wash

If you’re experiencing persistent odour:

·Using a large bucket or tub, give your diapers a good soak in a laundry booster like Borax or The Laundry Tarts “Strip-It” Formula.

·Soak in hot water and occasionally agitate the fabric by rubbing the items together

·Soak until water cools

·Wash as usual

In some cases, you may need to strip your cloth diapers. Stripping cloth diapers is only required if you are experiencing both issues with your cloth diapers because:

·Your diapers were left soiled for a long period of time and won’t come clean in a regular wash

·Your diapers have been repeatedly washed in untreated hard water

·Your diapers have been washed repeatedly with a detergent that contains fabric softener

·You have been regularly using a petroleum based bum balm

How to strip your cloth diapers:

Please remember that stripping your cloth diapers is not a gentle process and should not be done on a regular basis. If you have tried to correct issues mentioned using the recommended methods and are still experiencing issues with your cloth diapers, try stripping them as a last resort. If you have any questions or concerns about stripping your diapers, please contact us at or 416-762-5811.

·Fill a bath tub 1/2 full with hot water.

·Dissolve 5 packs of a mineral remover (such as Dapple Booster Pods) into the tub

·Add your diapers and swish them around until they are all submerged

·Soak for 4-6 hours, swishing occasionally to help break up the minerals

·Drain the tub

·Run your diapers through a water-only wash cycle (no detergent)

·Follow with a bleach soak

How to safely bleach your cloth diapers:

·If using a bathtub, fill it up 1/2 way with cold water and add 1/2 cup of bleach

·If using a bucket, use 1 TBSP of bleach for every 1 gallon of cold water

·Add diapers and soak for 30 minutes

·Rinse with hot water, in the bathtub or bucket

·Follow with a hot wash cycle with the recommended amount of detergent for the chosen load size