How To Clean Cloth Diapers

This is the second blog in the Cloth Diaper series deals with overall cleaning process of cloth diapers. This goes over my process, step by step, of how I clean my cloth diapers.

Let me start by saying, some of this can be gross. Truly, any waste management is going to be gross. It’s just the level or type of grossness that you can take and how dedicated you are to the choice you made.

So how do you wash cloth diapers anyway? And how do you dry them!?

Armed with all the questions I had regarding cloth diapering, I did a ton of research. I’ve tried a few different washing routines and I think I’ve found the one that works the best…for us.

I have another post about my two preferred detergents. Be sure to check that out.

Be forewarned. I have pictures of the cleaning process. It can be pretty yucky.

So, here goes…

First, you need soiled diapers. Those are pretty easy to come by. So stock up!

Where do you store dirty cloth diapers?

Next, you need a place to store those soiled diapers until washing day. I have a few different ways I store the soiled diapers.

Cloth Diaper Bedroom Storage for Soiled Diapers
  1. We have a large garbage can that locks with a large wet bag in her room. The can is stored next to the dresser where we change Baby Love. In the top of the can, I attached a scent reducer. I got it at Bed Bath and Beyond. It’s perfect for in her room.
    • This can holds potty filled diapers.
  2. We have 1 smaller bag that I hung on a command hook next to our toilet. This works perfectly for when we are going to bathe Baby Love and take the diaper off. It’s been great during potty training and on the weekends when I spray out the diapers.
    • If it’s not washing day and this bag starts to get full, I will usually take the sprayed diapers and put them in the bedroom can. They’re sprayed out so they have less stink than the potty diapers.
  3. During the week when she’s at our sitters, I send a standard size wet bag with Baby Love in the diaper bag. Our sitter just puts her soiled diapers and clothes into this bag and sends it home with her at the end of the day. I usually put enough wet bags for the whole week in the diaper bag because I tend to forget to put a new one in there occasionally. Our sitter will just put the soiled diapers into a grocery bag if I forget the wet bag. The wet bags are then put on our bathroom sink. These are then sprayed out on Saturday, piled up and washed. It’s gross but I just don’t have time during the week to spray them out.
    • Side note, you could put the bags in the large trash can. I don’t do this since I still put diapers in the can and I don’t want to root around in the can for the smaller wet bags.
    • I also don’t just dump the wet bag into the larger can since there can be poopy diapers that need to be sprayed out first.
    • On good nights when Baby Love goes to sleep when she’s supposed to (8:00 PM), then I’ll empty the wet bags and spray out any diapers that need spraying.

When I first started, we had enough diapers to last us 3 days. So Baby Love would have a day of diapers with her and the other 2 days worth were in the wash. This was a lot of laundry for me. Especially since I work full time. It was a lot less stinky, though, since the diapers were washed more regularly.

Now, we have enough diapers that we can make the full 4 days at the sitter’s, wash on Saturday, and have enough diapers to still change her on Saturday. I have to do one more small round of diaper laundry on Monday night to be sure I have enough diapers for the week.


Prep? Really?

Yes. You have to prep the diapers. It’s quick.

Newborn cloth diapers are so EASY! This also includes a baby up to 6 months old that does not eat any solid foods. Everything that goes into the baby is liquid so everything that comes out is liquid. You can just throw those diapers right into the washing machine.

Once your baby has started eating solids, that’s when the nasty fun begins.

(Picture my face with wide eyes, a crinkly nose and a little evil sneer. Have fun and put my hands up under my chin while you’re at it. Bwahahaha)

I have a small, round laundry basket that works PERFECTLY for me for this process. I pull out the large wet bag from the large trash can and put it in this laundry basket. The wet bag has an elastic around the top that I pull over the edge rim of the basket. {Pictured Below}

Uh Oh Momma's Crafting
Here’s the small basket.

This is the basket after I’ve sprayed out all the covers. I set the basket next to the toilet so I can just drop the cover into it directly after spraying. That means I touch the soiled diapers as little as possible and no leakage when trying to transfer from toilet to hamper.

I don’t consider this part of my prep since I keep this tool next to the toilet. You’ll want to make sure you have a toilet guard or splatter shield. I get this setup, which means I lift the toilet lid and seat and put this in place.

You should also have a toilet sprayer. It hooks in to the toilet’s water supply so you can easily spray out the diapers. This is another think I don’t consider part of my prep since it’s already there. It’s something you should get prior to starting cloth diapering and it’s come in handy while potty training too.

That’s pretty much all the prep I do.

Spray Out the Nasties

This is the fun part. HAHA! Not really. It kills my back from leaning over the toilet and it’s pretty disgusting.

Again, I’m going to say that all forms of waste management have their absolutely revolting aspects. Babies have horrendous poopy blowouts with disposable diapers (wearing a disposable is the only time we’ve had a blowout going up her back) and you have to spray out the poop with cloth diapers. Toddlers have poopy accidents when potty training.

Let’s face it. At some point in your parenting career, you WILL have to come close to poop and possibly get some on you. Thankfully, we have sinks with running water and soap to clean up ourselves, and our babies.

Other than being distasteful, it’s super easy.

  1. Put on your gloves. The kitchen gloves that go up your forearms are best for this.
  2. Take the insert out of the diaper and put it in the hamper. It shouldn’t need spraying if it was inside the pocket. If you laid it in the cover like a liner then you’d need to spray that part out and possibly the cover as well.
    • A note on this, I prefer to separate all the inserts and diapers before I start spraying anything out. It streamlines the process and makes it faster since you can grab, spray, put in hamper, grab, spray, put in hamper, etc.
  3. Put the liner into the splatter shield.
  4. Start spraying…
  5. Try to remove as many of the chunks as you can. The chunks are what you don’t want in the washer. Any liquids will be removed during the wash cycle.
  6. Put in the hamper and grab the next one that needs spraying.
Cloth Diaper Cleaning Setup 2
Here’s what my bathroom looks like when I’m spraying out diapers each week.

That’s it! You’re done with this part. Now you can wash them.

Get Everything Clean

I go over the steps in my post about the detergents I use.

I’ve really been liking the Magic Washberries Cloth Diaper Cleaning Process.

  • Pre-wash in cold water (no more than 24 diapers)
  • Once the cycle is finished, add a washing bag with 4-6 berries. You could add your homemade detergent or cloth diaper safe detergent at this step.
  • Wash on hot.

For drying, I put all the diapers in the drying and run a cycle on low heat. If they need longer, I’ll run a cycle on no-heat. I hang my wet bags to dry.

A note on drying, it’s best if you can hang your cloth diapers to dry. The heat from the dryer can degrade the diaper lining, called PUL, which is what keeps the diaper wet-proof. Once that lining is degraded enough, liquid can escape and you have to throw the diaper out. Eventually, the washing process will degrade the PUL but not as quickly as the dryer. Even with throwing my diapers in the dryer, I’ve still been able to get about 3 or 4 years (about 2 kids) out of my cloth diapers.

I used to hang the diapers but they don’t dry very quickly in the winter and I don’t have a lot of space. I read (and know from experience) that keeping the dryer on low or no heat has not caused any leaking issues with the PUL.

Once dry, you can put the diapers together and be ready to go for another week.


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