Cloth Diapering

School of Cloth Week 4: Laundry Troubleshooting


School of Cloth is an annual, month-long event with cloth diaper classes hosted by Real Diaper Circles, Real Diaper Association businesses, and cloth diapering veterans. If you attend a class, you can receive certificates and enter to win a cloth diapering package. If you win, you can receive a cloth diaper charity, like Giving Diapers Giving Hope, to receive a matching prize! Every week, I’ll cover a different topic, and invite you to link your blog posts as well. This week’s topic is laundry troubleshooting.

Sometimes the scariest part of switching from disposables to cloth diapers is the idea of washing cloth diapers. In reality, it isn’t difficult, though you may need to have a bit of patience.

Laundry science is as simple as WATCH. To get your diapers clean you need:

  • Water
  • Agitation
  • Time
  • Chemical Action
  • Heat

If one is lacking, you’ll need to increase the other. This is the reason why HE washers have much longer cycles than traditional top loaders. If you are using cold water, a natural detergent, or less water, you’ll need to increase another aspect of your cycle.

Remove as much solid waste from the diapers as possible, wash every 2-3 days (storing in a dry pail until wash day) and do a quick wash or short wash as a pre-rinse, with warm water if your machine has it.

For your main wash, make sure you are using the same amount of detergent that you’d use in a similarly sized, heavily soiled load of laundry. (You may need to add a smidge to your pre-wash as well, particularly if you have hard water.) Use hot water if you have it (be sure to make up for cooler water), and be sure your load isn’t too small or overstuffed. Diapers need room to move around, but they also need to agitate against each other. If you need to bulk your load, add similarly sized laundry, such as baby clothing.

So what do you do if your diapers stink? Get help. The Change-Diapers Facebook group is a great place to ask questions about your routine and get individualized recommendations.

What if you have hard water? You’ll likely need additional detergent, and in some cases, an additive like Calgon.

My diapers are leaking, help! Did you buy them used, or have you used them a long time? Turn them inside out (when dry) and check for cracks or lifting laminate. Have you used diaper cream that is causing repelling? Try scrubbing with Dawn and a toothbrush (removes grease like nobody’s business). Be sure to rinse well before washing & do not put dawn in the machine.

My diapers are stained! A good wash routine should keep your diapers looking pretty great but stains happen. The absolute best, most effective stain remover? The sun of course.

Have you had trouble with laundering cloth diapers?

Add your link to the linky below, check out the RDA’s blog and join the RDA to support real diapers!



Be sure to follow the RDA on social media as well:

Periscope: @realdiapers

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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.

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