washing cloth diapers

“So you wash your cloth diapers in your washing machine?!” Said with a nasty wrinkled up nose face.

This is one of the first comments I get when people find out we use cloth diapers. Right along with “What do you do with the poop?!” and “Why do you use cloth?”

This post contains affiliate links, but you know I got your back and only share products I love and stand behind. I paid my own hard-earned money on the products I mention, and want to share what I love.

Yes, yes, we wash our cloth diapers right in the washing machine that we use for our other laundry and then we line dry the diapers and use them again! And do the cycle again. And again. And again! For over three years now we have used cloth diapers, and WASHED cloth diapers. Mind blown! Some people are seriously blown away that people still use cloth diapers and to be honest, I like getting reactions like that!


We don’t put poop in the machine though (read what we do with it here) and there is definitely a particular washing routine we use.

We keep an ubbi diaper pail with a reusable diaper pail liner right by our toilet and after we flush the liner (and poop), we throw the diaper in the pail. We have experimented with having the diaper pail in different places but this seems to be the best fit for us. That way we can flush the liner in the toilet and the diaper pail is right there. We like the ubbi diaper pail because it seriously never smells. It is metal so it doesn’t absorbed smells like a plastic diaper pail or garbage can. It can hold 19-20 dirty all-in-one diapers at a time. Although it doesn’t have a hands free way to open it, it does have a little diaper sized slider that I can lock. I honestly prefer that so my kids don’t get into it. We have two ubbi reusable pail liners, but the ubbi is compatible with anything…even a trash bag.

So now the diaper pail is full of wet diapers and wipes and it is time to wash. We go probably 4-5 days between washing. When I was researching cloth diapers, I read that you CANNOT go longer than a day or two or you will basically be ruining your whole life and curse all of your posterity… seriously people get crazy about washing every other day. We have over 50 BumGenius Freetime diapers, so I have two rotations of about 25 diapers. Now that Etta is 10 months old, I am not changing her diaper as frequently as a newborn so we go through 6-8 diapers a day. We wash every 4-5 days and have never had issues with washing everything out or even staining; and so far we haven’t been cursed. Go figure.

We have a top loader GE machine without an agitator and we used to have a machine with an agitator. Both have worked just fine for cloth. We also have very hard water, and do not have a water softener.laundry detergent / glass jar / wool balls / cloth diapers

I dump a 1/2 scoop of original Tide powder detergent in the machine. Yes Tide! If you have read at all about washing cloth diapers, you have probably read that you need special detergent. I am calling bluff on all those fancy “cloth diaper detergents” and I think they are just a big hoax.

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I then empty the contents of the diaper pail into the washer and flip the wet bag inside out and throw it in too.

I run a hot wash on “bedding/bulky” setting, which in our owners manual is the setting with the highest amount of water. This helps wash all the urine out of the diapers.

Then I add a full scoop of Tide and run a cycle on the hottest temperature and on the ” heavy duty” setting. This setting on our machine is the one with the most agitation and the diapers use friction from each other to get clean.

Lastly, I run another hot cycle on “bedding/bulky”. If I open the machine before rinsing there are usually still lots of suds, but I don’t do another rinse cycle. I haven’t had any problems with repelling or build up and I am on 3 years of washing like this. I know people say it can cause problems if there are any suds but I do not agree with that.

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That’s it for the washer! The diapers come out of the washer smelling fresh and without any hint of ammonia or stinkiness.

I then hang the diapers to dry overnight on a drying rack and throw the wipes and any nighttime doublers into the dryer for a normal cycle WITHOUT a dryer sheet, I do use wool dryer balls. To be honest, I don’t really see a difference with or without the dryer balls, but I have them so I use them.

Every three-ish weeks, I add an extra cold rinse cycle to the end of the routine and add 1/2 cup of bleach to the cycle. BumGenius suggests this on the packaging of their Freetime diaper. It helps keep bacteria and yeast away. I have done this regularly since I started using Tide with cloth and haven’t ever had ammonia, yeast, or any sort of smelly diapers. If my kids ever do have a diaper rash, I will add bleach to every diaper routine until the rash is gone, but this might be overkill. I just want to make sure that the rash isn’t from bacteria and that the diapers are extra clean.

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Was that too complicated? Let’s recap our washing routine.

-Wash on hot with 1/2 scoop of Tide on bedding/bulky setting.

-2nd cycle on hot and heavy duty setting.

-3rd cycle on hot with no detergent on bedding/bulky setting

-Every 3 weeks I do an extra cold cycle with bleach.

-Hang diapers to air dry.

What do you think? could you handle this routine?



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