How do you clean a soiled cloth diaper? The Big Cloth Diapering Question


Cloth diaper laundry isn’t a whole lot different than other laundry.

I hate to see parents getting discouraged about using cloth because they’re afraid of a little poop. Lets be honest, in life, poop happens. I’ll take you through my routine in how I clean dirty cloth diapers, but this is by no means the rule book on how it should be done. Do what works best for you and yours.

diaper sprayerIf you’re using a diaper that requires the entire diaper to be changed then you would just remove the diaper, wipe off the baby’s bottom and set the diaper aside. Pop on a new cloth diaper and send your little one on their way. Or put your little one some place safe if they’re too little to run about while you attend to the dirty diaper.

If there are solids in the diaper you would go straight to the toilet, open the cloth diaper and shake off the solids as best you can. If you have soil on the cloth diaper that won’t come off, you could use a diaper sprayer if you have one.

step to open trash canNow it’s time to store the dirty diaper in a pail or wet bag. In B’s room I have a diaper pail. It’s nothing fancy just a step-to-open trash can I bought off Ebay that has a removable bucket inside. I have been meaning to get a wet bag that fits inside, but for now, the bucket works well. Once the cloth diaper is either shaken or sprayed, I plop it in the pail (or you would plop it in the wet bag if that’s what you have) until you are ready to wash.

TIP: After a couple days, the pail can get pretty full and a bit stinky. When that happens, I bring the pail over to the washing machine and get the water filling. I have a top loading washing machine, nothing fancy. Turn the water setting full load and use the cold water option.

I refuse to "unstuff" dirty diapers, so I simply dump the whole bucket of diapers into the washer while it’s filling up.  Once the wash is finished; I crank it to the hot water setting, add a little detergent and send the diapers around again. While the tub is filling with hot water I inspect the diapers to see if any of them need "unstuffing". If needed, I separate the inserts from the diaper and let the washer go again. I don’t add a lot of soap because if there’s one thing I’ve learned about washing diapers (and clothes for that matter) is that a little bit goes a long way. The water does the cleaning and the soap is merely an aid to the water. After the wash, I either hang my diapers and inserts out to dry or pop them in the dryer.

hanging plant standInstead of building a long clothes line, I sort of MacGyver’d one.

Here’s how…

I got this neat hanging Octopus with 16 clothes clips from IKEA and a hanging plant stand from Home Depot.

I installed the plant stand in my back yard, just outside the door in the grass. We have a rack for hanging clothes in my laundry area, this is where I store the octopuses from IKEA when they’re not in use.

When it’s time to hang the diapers outside, the process is so easy. I clip up the cloth diapers & inserts onto the Octopus while in the laundry room, and then hang the octopus on the plant stand outside. This is much nicer to do, versus having to stand outside with a wet load of clean cloth diapers and hang them on a long clothes line.

I also like that the hanging Octopus arms spin in the breeze so that all of my cloth diapers can get a little air and sun.

TIP: Sunning your diapers is a good way to remove stains. Also, the UV rays from the sun will help kill bacteria and will help to battle any lingering stinkies.

Up Next… “How to make your own laundry detergent that is cloth diapering friendly”


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