Start simple! Unless the detergent you use for your family contains fabric softener, use it. It’s easiest and it will work just fine. (“But don’t I need special cloth diaper detergent?” NO, you don’t.)
- Dump diapers into washer.
- Add detergent. The amount recommended by the detergent manufacturer. (see Note 1)
- Wash on hot, double rinse in cold. (see Note 2)
- Put diapers into dryer, set covers aside.
- Dry. (Unless your CD manufacturer says otherwise, Hot is fine. Even if they do say otherwise, Hot is probably still fine.)
- If you want to dry your covers separately, hang them up or lay them out on the dryer’s top. Or just toss your covers in the dryer. (see Note 3)
- How easy was that?
Note 1. Honestly, you can probably get away with less, but start with the full amount, and try reducing the amount a bit at a time until you figure out how much *you* need for *your* diapers in *your* washer. (“But wait! The internet says to use a TINY amount!!” Yes. The internet is often wrong. I believe this got started back before my oldest was born, when parents were more prone to use MORE detergent than needed/recommended in the erroneous belief that this was needed. Then “the internet” took over, and we now have parents who are taught, often by the people who sold them their diapers who should know better, to use just a tiny amount. Your diapers have to get clean. To do this, you need to use enough detergent.)
Note 2. Use an appropriate water level for the amount of diapers you have. Because diapers are so absorbent, I use a higher water level than I would for the same volume of clothes (because my clothes do not consist of multiple layers of absorbent materials). If you have a front loader, some people find they have better luck if they throw in a few towels with their diapers.
Note 3. Only poor quality PUL delaminates in the dryer.
Softeners: If you have hard water, adding a softener to your laundry might help get your diapers cleaner. Calgon is excellent for this.
Washing soda: A nice laundry booster, helps make detergent work more effectively and is a softener (but not as good of a softener as Calgon).
Baking Soda: Brightens and removes odors. Use in the wash cycle or in a pre-soak cycle. Some people say it’s not really great for covers. Personally, I sometimes toss a handful in the diaper pail and don’t sort out my covers and I’ve never had a problem.
Vinegar (white): Softens and removes soap residue. Use in the rinse cycle. Can cause stink problems.
Tea Tree Oil: Disinfects and smells pretty. Use a few drops in the wash cycle. Too much oil causes problems, and tea tree oil has been associated with health concerns in boys. Do your own research here. I also think that the amount of disinfecting you’re likely to get from a few drops of TTO in the wash is really quite minimal.
Lavender EO: Antiseptic and nice smelling. Use a few drops in the wash cycle or the rinse cycle. Lavender EO has also been associated with health concerns in boys.
Bac-Out by Bi-O-Kleen: Whitens, removes stains, cleans. Use as a spray-on pre-treatment, or squirt some in a pre-soak or the wash cycle.
Oxygen Bleach like Oxyclean: Whitens, removes stains. Use in the wash cycle. I personally don’t like Oxyclean and do not use it in my laundry, ever.
The Sun: it’s free and it removes stains. Even indirect sun works wonders. Not just for diapers, either. UV light is also good for disinfecting.
No bleach in every cycle. Bleach wears out fibers faster (on diapers as well as clothes). Try sun, baking soda, oxyclean, or Bac-Out instead. Don’t be afraid of the bleachleach is ok as an occasional laundry treatment, but do not use it in every wash cycle.
No fabric softener. Fabric softener coats fabric to make it feel soft. This coating makes it hard for diapers to absorb very well. It also is hard on covers. Try using white vinegar instead.
Simple Wash Routine
Here is my usual wash routine:
1. Toss contents of diaper pail into washer.
3. Wash in hot.
4. Rinse in cold.
5. Rinse in cold again.
6. Hang outside on the line to dry or dry in dryer.
Sometimes if I think the diapers need a little sprucing up, I’ll wash them alone (no covers) and add in some baking soda. Sometimes I use vinegar in the first rinse to help remove all of the soap. Sometimes I throw in bleach.