Cloth Diapering How To/Demo Mailbox Mondays Washing

Cloth Diaper Advice – Mailbox Mondays 4/2/12 – Hand Washing Cloth Diapers

Hand Washing #clothdiapers via @chgdiapers

Need cloth diaper advice? Every week, I answer a question asked by a reader, and give other readers the chance to weigh in.

Questions don’t have to be cloth diaper related, just email maria at with “Mailbox Mondays” in the subject, or fill out my contact form for readers, which you will always be able to find on my Contact Page.

Aislinn says::

My little girl is due in a week and a half, and I can’t wait to start cloth diapering her! I’m from Florida but live in Asia right now. I have no washing machine or dryer, but I do have a house helper who does our laundry by hand. Our CD stash is mostly prefolds & covers with a couple of pocket diapers plus some additional inserts (microfiber and hemp).

I am looking for any and all advice you might have on hand-washing diapers! What’s the best process? What detergent should I use? How often should I wash?

I need to make sure I understand this well enough to try it myself and then teach it to someone else in another language I’ve only been learning for 6 months! Thanks so much for your help.

Hand washing won’t be as easy as using a washing machine, but it can be done! The key to successful hand washing will be similar to machine washing: using enough water, hot enough water, enough detergent (but not too much), agitation and thorough rinsing.

Several moms I know have to pay to wash their diapers, so they partially hand wash them (pre-rinsing and such) to save money. Last year, Alyssa wrote a guest post on cloth diapering without a washing machine, and she details her wash routine there. Hannah used flats while traveling to Italy, and while she had access to a washing machine, flats do well with hand washing since they are a single layer (they will dry quickly too.)

The prefolds and covers will likely be much easier to keep clean that microfiber (the shape of the fibers tend to grab oily material more than natural fibers) but they’re not impossible to hand wash; they will just require more agitation and rinsing.

I don’t know what detergents you have available in Asia, but stay away from anything with bleach, fabric softeners or optical brighteners if at all possible. Often, less expensive store brands have fewer additives than premium brands.

Have you hand washed cloth diapers? What was your wash routine!

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Maria is an aspiring "fit mom" of 3 children, writing about cloth diapers, going green, and her life as a single mom. Maria works with many companies within the cloth diaper industry and beyond, providing social media management, product development, and other services.
  • Elyse
    April 8, 2012 at 9:25 pm

    I’ve been hand washing diapers for 2 kids for 1 year and actually wrote a small manual on hand washing! I started out with a bucket and plunger and it worked wonderfully. I never used flats or prefolds because they intimidated me. I opted for all in twos with folded natural fiber inserts. Easy to use and easy to clean. All of our inserts are three layers of fabric at the thickest. Most are two. I also have some pocket semi-fitteds for night time with wool covers. Wool is gold if you are handwashing because it means less laundry and wool is so easy to wash (soak for 15 minutes in wool wash and tepid water, wring and hang… can’t get easier).
    For washing my cloth diapers with a 5 gal bucket and plunger I fill the bucket completely and rinse once with warm water and agitate ~30 times with a plunger. Then I empty the bucket, fill it half to 2/3 of the way full with hot water and add 1 Tbs detergent (I have used Rockin Green and Ecosprout — haven’t tried homemade detergent yet!). I agitate 200ish times with the plunger let them soak 10-20min, agitate a bit more and pour off the water. Then I rinse with the bucket full of cold water, agitating 20-30 times for each rinse until all the bubbles are gone. If my inserts are feeling crunchy I add 2-3Tbs white vinegar in the first rinse and rinse at least once more.
    One load for me is usually 10-15 diapers (a days’ worth, maybe a bit more).
    I got a hand washer from the laundry alternative a few months ago and LOVE it. I still rinse poopies in the 5 gal bucket first, but it makes the whole process so much easier physically.
    Best of luck! Its possible and worth it to hand wash cloth diapers!

  • Rebecca
    April 3, 2012 at 9:32 am

    I handwash my flats in a bucket washer. I rinse twice with cool water, then wash with hot water with 1 tbs homemade cd safe detergent (1c borax, 1c washing soda, 1/2c baking soda & 1/2c oxygen bleach. Mix together use 1tbs/5 gal bucket.) I agitate for a few mins then let them soak for about 30 mins then agitate some more. Then rinse/agitate 3 more times with cold water.

  • April 2, 2012 at 7:38 pm

    I love your blog!!

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