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How to Clean Cloth Diapers

This post is sponsored by Tide, however, all opinions and experiences are my own. 

Baby Aram’s cord stump finally fell off a few days ago which meant two things. First, I could finally give him a good, proper bath and second, it was time to break out my cloth diapers! I’ve been so excited to have a new baby in cloth again! Doesn’t he just look adorable in his little XS diaper, waving hi?!

how to clean cloth diapers

I started using cloth diapers over 8 years ago when my first baby, Maggie, was born. Over the years, I’ve had lots of friends, family, and blog readers ask me questions about cloth diapers. The most common questions I’m asked in regards to cloth diapers are always about cleaning them. So, today I wanted to take the time to answer frequently asked questions about how to clean cloth diapers.

What Do You Do with the Poop?!

Okay, this is definitely the #1 question and I can’t say I blame people for asking. Many people fear the poop but you really don’t need to. I promise that cleaning up the poop in cloth diapers is not as bad as you are thinking. And, as a bonus, you’ll soon find out that the blowouts that happen frequently in disposable diapers seldom happen in cloth diapers. That’s a trade-off I love!

So, what do you do with the poop? The answer to this question depends on what your baby is eating.

Exclusively Breastfed: For babies that are exclusively breastfed, there’s no need to do anything with the poop. You can wash them with the poop and it will all just come out in the wash. The only exception would be if you have an exclusively breastfed baby who doesn’t poop regularly and poops maybe once a week. That poop tends to be thicker and you’ll want to use the scrapper or diaper sprayer method listed below to clean off the poop before putting the dirty diaper in your diaper pail or wet bag.

how to clean cloth diapers

Formula and/or solids: If your baby drinks formula or is eating solid food, you will need to clean off as much poop as possible before washing. This can be accomplished a number of ways.

  • Ploppers – This is the poop you’ll hope you get, You simply turn the diaper upside down while over the toilet and the poop will “plop” into the toilet. This is quick and easy.
  • Scrapper – For non-plopping poop, it’s helpful to have a designated poop scrapper. A spatula works great to scrap most of it off and into the toilet. What is left over will wash off in the washing machine.
  • Diaper Sprayer – Another option is to purchase a diaper sprayer. This makes spraying the poop off of the diaper and into the toilet simple and easy.

As long as the bulk of the poop has been cleaned off, the rest should wash off in your washing machine.

How Do You Store Dirty Diapers?

I have a large, hanging wet bag that hangs on the back of my son’s nursery door. It’s big enough to hold about 20 dirty newborn diapers. You could also purchase a reusable pail liner and put the pail liner inside of a tall laundry basket or diaper pail. I love my hanging wet bag because I just carry it down to my washing machine, turn it inside out, and wash all of the diapers and bag together.

How to clean cloth diapers

You might think that this would be stinky but really I don’t find them to smell bad at all. The bag really contains the smell well. Also, if you notice in the photo above there is a little white square at the top of the bag. If you find that your wet bag does smell you can add essential oils onto that small piece of fabric to keep things smelling fresh!

How Frequently Do You Have to Wash Diapers?

When I first started to use cloth diapers with my first baby I was washing diapers every single day. That was because I only owned 5 diapers, so my only choice was to wash every single day. Now that I have a nice stockpile of diapers, I wash them every 3 days or sooner if I’m running out of clean diapers. (Newborns tend to go through a lot more diapers, so we have to wash more frequently right now.)

How Do You Wash Cloth Diapers?

It took me years of trial and error to figure out what works best to wash diapers. When I first started using cloth diapers I purchased special laundry detergent online that was advertised specifically as cloth diaper detergent. However, I had a lot of issues with these detergents. It seemed like no matter which kind I tried, they just didn’t get my diapers clean enough. They would come out of the dryer still smelling like ammonia or other funky smells. I also experienced leaks as my diapers would gradually have build-up from the detergent and minerals in the water.

I actually almost gave up on cloth diapers because of not being able to clean them well enough. Then a friend told me to try Tide. I was skeptical at first because Tide was formulated with cleaning clothes in mind, not urine and poop. I was also worried that since I wasn’t using a “free and clear” style of detergent that it might bother my baby‘s skin. But, desperate, I gave Tide a try.

What a difference Tide made!

Once I switched to Tide my diapers were so much cleaner! I still found it necessary to bleach my diapers about every month or so until I tried Tide+Oxi Powder. Now that I’ve switched to that, cleaning diapers is so easy and they come out amazingly clean every.single. time! I don’t even need to bleach anymore!

how to clean cloth diapers

My personal cloth diaper cleaning routine looks like this:

  1. Clean poop from diapers according to instructions mentioned above.
  2. Do a cold water rinse
  3. Do a hot water wash with Tide + Oxi Powder (I fill the scoop to the #1 level. Depending on the hardness/softness of your water, you may need to adjust this, but start there).
  4. Make sure you use the wash cycle that provides the most water possible (for example mine says heavy fill, yours might say heavy duty).
  5. Run your diapers through an extra rinse. This step has kept my babies from having any skin sensitivity issues.
  6. Dry diapers on medium heat in the dryer or hang them outside to line dry. (Check your diaper’s care label to see what they recommend for drying.)

Don’t The Diapers Get Stained?

Since switching to Tide+Oxi Powder, I seldom have problems with stubborn diaper stains. Tide+Oxi offers a powerful, deep clean that targets set-in odors and stains. Tide+Oxi is perfect for cleaning cloth diapers, as it has six times the cleaning power of the next leading OXI detergent. This powerful powder detergent includes pre-treaters that effectively attack even 14-day old stains! So yeah, stains aren’t much of an issue!

how to clean cloth diapers

On the rare occasion that I have a persistent stain, I either let the diaper soak in Tide+Oxi Powder for a few hours before washing or, after washing the diaper, I put it in the sun, which helps to fade stains.

There are lots of reasons to choose cloth diapers over disposables, and the fear of cleaning them doesn’t need to be something that keeps you from giving them a try! Tide+Oxi makes washing cloth diapers so easy that you’ll wonder why you were even concerned about cleaning them! You can purchase Tide+Oxi HERE.

Starr McDaniel

Monday 31st of August 2020

Great tips. I need to look into getting a bag like yours. Just bought 18 pairs of cloth training pants to use instead of pull-ups, so the wet bag will come in handy for sure.

Lynne B

Tuesday 23rd of October 2018

Cloth diapers have come a long way. I remember my mom using them for a brief time with my younger sibling. They looked nothing like yours!

Linda Manns Linneman

Tuesday 28th of August 2018

Diapers have sure changed since my boys were babies. I do love this product. It really leaves my clothes fresh and clean. Thank you for sharing this great article

Mia Rose

Monday 2nd of July 2018

Great advice for those moms wanting to use cloth diapers. It seems intimidating but I think that it is worth doing and having used cloth in the past it really isn't difficult one you get a system in place.

Ashley Chassereau Parks

Saturday 30th of June 2018

Yay for a fluff butt!! He looks so cute! We love our cloth diapers! I had a front loader with my last 2 babies, but we got a new top loading machine that doesn't have an agitator before this guy was born. I couldn't figure out why they weren't coming clean the first wash. After a little research I learned that I didn't have enough "stuff" in the machine for the diapers/etc to agitate against each other to get clean enough. Oops! Now, I have a few old towels I toss in with smaller loads and it works much better. I guess I've learned something with each kiddo! Thanks for sharing!