The Washing Process
1. Rinse in a cold water rinse cycle.
2. Wash on a normal warm/hot water cycle (water less than 115°F), with the maximum water level setting and with the recommended amount of detergent.
3. Optional: If using soft water or experiencing residue buildup from detergent, run additional rinse cycle in cold water.
4. Air dry or tumble dry on low heat/delicate cycle. Do not include dryer sheets.
Finding a Detergent that Works for You
Ultimately, the perfect cloth diaper detergent will:
Here is a list of guidelines to follow when shopping for a detergent:
TIP: A quick online search will show extensive lists and reviews of different cloth diaper safe detergents to help you choose a brand that works for you and your family. A great resource we often refer to is the Detergent Index through Fluff Love University.
Staining is normal and does not affect the efficiency or absorbency of your cloth diapers. Do not use bleach or boiling water on your cloth diapers or inserts. The best stain removal tip? Leave your diapers out to dry on a flat surface or on a clothesline in the sunshine for some natural bleaching. Stains nearly always come out with a few hours in the sun! Additionally, using disposable liners will help to minimize staining.
Dealing with Residue
Residue on cloth diapers can develop from two sources: detergent and urine. In both cases, it can cause your diapers to smell, lose absorbency, or give baby a rash.
A good way to test if you are having an absorbency issue with residue is to lay the inserts flat, pour a small amount of water on top, and apply a bit of pressure. The inserts should absorb the water. If the water ‘wicks’ away and does not absorb into the insert, you likely have a residue problem.
A quick fix: we suggest you wash your diapers normally (making sure to use the appropriate amount of detergent as per package instructions), followed by two or three more hot water cycles without detergent. Dry normally.
If the problem persists, review the amount of detergent you are using, taking into consideration whether or not you have hard or soft water. Not enough detergent will leave that ammonia, or “barnyard,” smell, while too much will leave detergent residue. Soft water will require less detergent and extra rinsing. Hard water may require extra detergent to be effective.
TIP: try adding some baking soda to your wash cycle. The high PH in baking soda helps neutralize the ammonia smell. Do not keep this as part of your washing routine as overtime it will cause the diaper to fail.
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When building a cloth diaper stash we recommend considering additional inserts. They can help with additional absorbency, avoiding tummy leaks among boys and cloth diapering newborns. Learn why.