Washing, Prepping And Stripping Cloth Diapers
This is the exact step by step process of how I wash, prep, and strip my diapers. When I wash my diapers, I wash about every 5 days for my two kids in diapers. This is what works for me and my family and yes, I have had to wash using each of these methods at least a few times. These methods may work great for you or you may need to slightly tweak them to be the perfect match for your family.
Washing Your Diapers (standard machine)
1) Rinse poop if baby is on formula or solids (not necessary when baby is drinking breast milk only). I choose to use a reusable liner so it is easier to rinse the poop off. I just plop or swish it in the toilet. I also choose to rinse all overnight diapers.
2) Prewash is a short cycle to start the cleaning process of your diapers. You may use hot, warm or cold water. I choose warm water for this cycle. This cycle should have at least 6 minutes of agitation.
3) Main wash should be your machines longest cycle with the strongest agitation (heavy duty, super wash). You can use any type of water you would like as long as diapers look and feel clean after. I choose to use cold water for this cycle. This load should have a full amount of detergent. I have found that tide or gain powder works the best.
4) Extra rinse this is an optional cycle but I feel my diapers need this to get the last bits of detergent out. You can use the rinse and spin cycle for this.
5) Dry in dryer or on clothes line. It is your choice. I choose to dry all in ones and inserts in the dryer and others on the clothes line.
*I used a standard machine for 2 years while cloth diapering
Washing Your Diapers (HE machine)
2) Prewash is a short cycle to start the cleaning process. When filling the HE Machine it is important that it is at least 2/3 of the way full so the clothing agitates properly. You can add towels etc. to make sure the drum is full enough. Again you may choose the water temperature you like. On my machine I do the Quick wash cycle with Eco-warm water.
3) Main wash should be your machines longest cycle (heavy duty, super wash). You can use any type of water you would like as long as diapers look and feel clean after. I choose to use cold water for this cycle. This load should have a full amount of detergent. I have found that tide or gain powder works the best.
4) Extra rinse this is an optional cycle but I feel my diapers need this to get the last bits of detergent out. I choose another quick wash with Eco-warm water
*this is my current washing method
Washing Your Diapers (hand washing)
1) Rinse poop if baby is on formula or solids (not necessary when baby is drinking breast milk only). I choose to use a reusable liner so it is easier to rinse the poop off. I just plop or swish it in the toilet. I also choose to rinse all overnight diapers. With this method I would only wash 2 days of diapers at a time.
2) Presoak dirty diapers in warm water with a little detergent for 30 minutes. Anything waterproof should only be put in for the last 10 minutes
3) Prewash your diapers by putting just enough water to cover diapers and ¼ the amount of detergent (you may use a bucket, sink, or bathtub). Then use your hand or plunger to agitate your diapers. You may want to rub fabric against itself or use a washboard. Then let soak 10 minutes. Then squeeze out excess water (do not ring as it can stretch fabric)
4) Check for staining if needed you may use a gentle scrub brush to remove staining.
5) Main wash your diapers by adding warm water and full amount of detergent to your bucket/sink/tub. Add your diapers and swish them around making sure there is enough room for diapers to freely move. Then agitate and kneed your diapers for several minutes than drain water
6) Repeat main wash steps (except adding soap) until all the bubbles are out of your diapers then squeeze excess water out of diapers and hang dry of put in dryer
*I have done this for 2 week it is a lot of work but in a pinch it does work great
Prepping Your Diapers
Synthetic material such as pockets, covers, and microfiber need no true prepping but it is recommended to wash once.
Natural materials such as hemp and bamboo need to be prepped to remove their natural oils that will affect absorbency. They should be washed at least twice with hot water if possible. There is no need to dry until both washes are done. My tip is I throw them in with our regular weekly laundry; I tend to wash them four times but not in hot water then dry at the end.
Stripping your diapers
Stripping your diapers should be done as needed only. I have been cloth diapering for almost 5 years and have stripped my diapers only 3-4 times; not counting the used diapers I have brought. Stripping diapers is only needed when detergent or ammonia builds up, which affects its absorption, or when diapers develop a smell; this happens when wash a routine isn’t perfect.
This is my step by step of how I strip my diapers
- Start with clean diapers in a well-ventilated room (I use my bathroom and the bathtub).
- Fill up a tub ½ of the way with very hot water (this is for stripping my whole stash of diapers; about 40 diapers; and would need adjusting if you had fewer diapers). In with water, I mix 2 packets of RLR laundry treatment, ½ a cup of detergent (tide or gain powder works best) and all my inserts. Then mix around until everything is wet.
- Mix thoroughly with a strong broom handle every 20 minutes for the first hour. After 60 minutes and the water cool cools down (to the point you can put your hand in it) I add my diapers with PUL to the tub.
- Continue to mix every 30 minutes for 4 hours. Then drain the tub and squeeze the water from the diapers.
- Next step, you fill the tub with cold water and do a quick rinse of the diapers (if washer is close by, put in for a quick cold water only wash) it is important to get mot if not all of the RLR and detergent completely out in this step. It requires lots of stirring and squeezing of absorbent parts of the diapers.
- Next step requires a bleach soak, this is important to get all the ammonia and bacteria out of your diapers and should not be skipped or you will most likely need to repeat stripping your diapers.** Again you fill ½ a tub with water and ½ a cup of bleach. Then you must stir up and let soak for 30 minutes.
- The last step is to wash diapers in the washing machine with warm/hot water with regular amount of detergent. I follow this with 3 quick washes with cold water only to ensure all the detergent, bleach, and RLR is off.
*The bleach soak may cause some materials to fade
Here is another great source for cloth diaper washing, including the difference in hard/soft water, different methods to empty diapers and different ways to store your diapers till washing day
Please feel free to contact us if you need assisting with your wash routine and we will try our hardest to assist you.