How to Wash Cloth Diapers the Natural Way!


One of the major turnoffs for folks and cloth diapers is the fact that you have to wash that yucky stuff! At first, I was right there too. Gross! I’m not dealing with that. It’s turned out to be far less nasty than I was expecting, though. It’s been a learning experience, and I certainly won’t suggest my way is the ONLY or BEST way to do it, but it works well for us! Here’s our setup:

We have two diaper pails in our son’s room – one for dirty cloth diapers and one for trash, wipes, and the like. The cloth diaper pail is green (get it?), and the other is gray. I also have them labeled (because I’m a dork like that), more so for the baby sitters than for us. I chose the Diaper Dekor Plus based on the customer reviews. For the trash pail, I use their refills, and I use their cloth bags for the cloth diapers.

When a diaper is wet, it goes straight into the green pail. When a diaper is dirty, we remove the bulk of the waste and flush it. The dirty diaper then also goes into the green pail. I don’t soak them or rinse them or anything.

I always wash when I have at least three clean diapers left (to allow enough time to dry) if that comes during the day. Otherwise, I’ll wash after the little guy goes to bed so they can dry overnight.

My washing method (for an HE machine):

  1. Empty the bag into the washing machine (no need to pull inserts out if you have pocket style).
  2. Turn the bag inside out, and throw that in the machine too.
  3. Fill the “bleach” compartment with white distilled vinegar and a few drops of citrus essential oil (you can pre-mix this and use it also as a softener – one quart vinegar and 20 drops of essential oil). I use the doTERRA proprietary blend, Purify.
  4. Run the washer on a “pre-wash” or “quick” cycle using cool or cold water. Stains are better removed with cool or cold water than they are with warm or hot.
  5. When the first cycle completes, open the washer and pull any inserts out that didn’t come out by themselves during the first cycle. At this step, I also typically unsnap any inserts that are snapped down for sizing to ensure a better wash.
  6. Fill the “bleach” compartment again with vinegar mix, and fill the detergent compartment with 1/2 tbsp. of homemade laundry soap (or about 1/3 of the normal amount you would use of your regular detergent; do NOT use a “free” or other hypoallergenic detergent because it’s hard on the material).
  7. Run a “heavy-duty” cycle using the hottest temperature.
  8. Hang all diapers, inserts, and bags to air dry. Technically, you can tumble dry the inserts, but they’ll last longer if you don’t. If possible, hang them outside. The wind and sun will really help with odor and any staining, and they’ll dry much faster.
  9. Once a month, in place of your normal vinegar/oil mixture in the heavy-duty cycle, use bleach. You don’t want to bleach more often because it’s hard on the material, but definitely do it once per month.

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