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How to Properly Wash Cloth Diapers in HE and non-HE Washing Machines

Are you wondering how to properly wash cloth diapers and get the best results? This guide will help you to learn how to get your cloth diapers clean every time. Below you’ll find instructions for High Efficiency (HE) washing machines and for regular non-HE machines. Make sure to check our comprehensive list of Recommended Laundry Detergents For Cloth Diapers 

Basic Cloth Diaper Wash Routine in 4 Easy Steps 

STEP 1: Soiled cloth diaper treatment

Wet cloth diaper can go straight to the pail.

Solid waste should be knocked or sprayed into toilet. To minimize staining and mold growth, follow by rinse and wring out thoroughly.

Store soiled diapers in the dry pail only. Wash every 2-3 days.

TIP: To avoid foul diaper smell in the room, leave diaper pail slightly open to allow air circulation

STEP 2: Prewash

This step is needed for removing the surface soil from cloth diapers.

TIP: Hook-&-Loop cloth diapers may stick to other diapers and damage them. We recommend placing Hook-&-Loop diapers in the laundry mesh bag (up to 4-5 diapers per bag)

STEP 3: Main Wash

This step is needed to deep clean through all the layers of fibers in cloth diapers.

STEP 4: Dry 

Tumble dry on low/medium heat or line dry.

TIP: Turn All-in-One Cloth Diapers inside out to speed up drying time

How To Wash Cloth Diapers In High Efficiency (HE) Washing Machine

PREWASH: Start with prewash to remove bulk of the soil. To prewash your cloth diapers select a shorter cycle that is at least 30-45 minutes long. Depending on your HE washing machine model shorter cycle might be called “Speed Wash,” “Quick Wash,” or “Express Wash.”  Some top loading HE washing machines may work better with a “Normal” or “Cottons” cycle for the prewash due to lack of agitation power.

We recommend adding small amount of detergent to prewash cycle. If you have hard water, add some water softener as well.

What is not recommended for prewash:

It is not recommended using “Rinse/Spin” setting for prewash step, due to insufficient agitation. It also may look easier to use “Prewash” setting with main wash cycle and skip prewash routine as described above. Since we recommend adding wash detergent separately, and bulking the load size between the prewash and the main wash, the “Prewash” setting is just not the best option for prewash routine.

MAIN WASH: Follow with main wash to deep clean cloth diapers. For better cleaning power it’s recommended filling the drum up to 2/3 or 3/4 level, depending on your washing machine model. At this point you can add other items in the wash to reach optimal laundry level. Add smaller items such as baby clothes to avoid items wrapping around cloth diapers and preventing agitation.

For main wash select longest cycle with the strongest agitation. Depending on your HE washing machine model longer cycle might be called “Heavy Duty,” “Whites,” or “Power Wash”. If your HE Washing Machine doesn’t have these options, you may try the longest cycle such as “Normal” or “Cottons”.

It’s beneficial to choose the highest soil and spin. You may want to select stain treatment or other “boost” button if your HE washing machine has such option.

Avoid and turn off any automatically selected extra rinse and prewash settings.

For main wash cycle, add the recommended full amount of detergent. We also recommend adding water softener if you have hard water in your area.

How To Wash Cloth Diapers In Standard (non-HE) Washing Machine

PREWASH: Start prewash by selecting cycle with at least 6 minutes of agitation to remove bulk of the soil. Depending on your washing machine model this cycle might be called “Heavy Duty”, “Cotton”, “Normal”, or “Regular”. Use cold or warm water with small amount of detergent (up to line 1 or half a cap, depending on the detergent of your choice). If you have hard water, add some water softener as well.

MAIN WASH: For main wash choose longest cycle with the strongest agitation. It’s commonly labeled as “Heavy Duty”, “Power Wash”, or “Super Wash”. With synthetic detergents you can use any water temperature. With plant based detergents it is recommended to use hot water for best results. Keep in mind, water temperature should not exceed 140F, high temperatures can greatly shorten life of cloth diapers.

Use full amount of detergent as recommended for heavily soiled load. You may need to add a bit more, if using plant based or free & clear detergent. If you have hard water, add some water softener to your load.