Diaper Washing Routine

While preparing to cloth diaper two babies, I thought a lot about the wash routine. My plan was washing every other day with about 26-30 diapers per load. That’s what I did the first week of clothing diapering two and it was way too many diapers (prefolds/inserts/covers/pockets) in my washing machine! I really didn’t want to have to wash diapers every single day so I decided to split the wash.

Here’s a glimpse into my dirty diaper storage system and my diaper washing routine.

Diaper Storage System: 

Once a diaper is used, I bring it to the bathroom where my diaper pail and hanging wet bag are. I pull the prefold/insert out of the cover/pocket diaper.

The prefold/insert goes into the diaper pail. This has a lid that does a fabulous job keeping in odors! As long as it’s closed, you can’t smell anything.

The cover/pocket diaper goes into the hanging wet bag which is hanging on the door. I make sure that they’re folded up so no poo/dampness gets on the bag so I can use the bag multiple times without washing it. I keep the bag unzipped most of the time and there are no major odor issues. If we have company coming, I’ll zip it up, just in case!

Diaper Washing Routine:

I take the wet bag full of covers and pocket diapers and do a cold rinse without detergent. Weston is exclusively breast fed and I don’t rinse his dirty diapers before putting them in the bag so this is to rinse all of that off. I also think this step helps cut down on diaper stains!

After the rinse, I put in 1 scoop of detergent (we’re currently using Charlie’s Soap) and wash on hot.

Once they’ve been washed, I hang them on my drying rack in our guest room. (There were 23  covers/pockets in this particular load.) The drying rack is over our heat vent which is helping them dry faster! They usually take about 6 hours to dry.

After I’ve hung the covers/pockets, it’s time to wash the prefolds/inserts.

I empty the diaper pail into the wash and do a cold rinse. A rinse in this load helps cut down on odors and prevent staining on the prefolds.

When the rinse cycle is over, I put in 2 scoops of detergent and wash on hot.

I follow this hot wash with another hot wash to make sure there’s no detergent residue (which causes buildup resulting in stinky diapers!)

Once they’re washed, I dry them in the dryer. (I know, it’s not very eco-friendly but it’s too cold to hang them on the line and they take a good 12-18 hours to dry and we’re often down to the wire on diapers at this point in the wash routine!)

When the inserts and prefolds are dry, I bring them into the guest room to await folding and stuffing!

Folding and stuffing diapers is actually one of my favorite chores. I know it sounds crazy but I love filling up my clothes basket with a rainbow of colorful clean diapers.

That’s my current wash routine. It evolved over the past 21 months of cloth diapering due to factors such as water hardness at our past two homes and adding a new baby to the mix but it’s what is working for us right now. Once the weather warms up, we’ll be doing most of the drying on the clothesline. And, I’m sure in 6 months, it’ll be different (especially if Paxton is potty trained!)

It seems like it’s a lot of work but honestly, after nearly 2 years of washing diapers, it’s not a hard chore. I love that we’re saving so much money, don’t have stinky trash and that my boys’ bottoms are comfy in cloth!

If you cloth diaper, I’d love to hear about your wash routine! 

Disclosure – This post contains affiliate links.

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responses to “Diaper Washing Routine” 25

  1. We have a similar looking diaper trash can thing. Wifey reuses the covers unless they get wet or have poo on them. She tosses the liners and the covers into the same container and washes them together.

    1. I love the diaper pail, it does a great job keeping in odors! I reuse the covers too but most of our diapers are pockets which can't be reused. And when we just had one in diapers I washed them all together, now there are just so many! Thanks for sharing your routine!

  2. Sounds really similar to my routine! I am nervous about how adding taking them to the clothesline will affect our routine when the weather changes– I still have a good three months before then up here in the Pacific NW!

  3. I am currently only diapering one, but I generally wash each day so that we always have a full supply. Here in Louisiana we have had one of the most mild Winters in a long time, so my diapers have been line drying throughout the winter, unless we are pressed for time or it is raining. Because we are subtropical, the humidity during a rain prevents line drying in the house…or it takes at least 24 hours!

    We also use a similar pail for the prefolds and then a smaller pail without a cover for the covers. At Rita's changing table I have a small wet bag that I toss the prefolds in. Generally I empty the wet bag into the larger covered pail at the end or beginning of the day.

    We have hard water too, but since all of our diapers (except one) are cotton I have been using homemade laundry detergent on them. I find it works, but maybe not quite as well as Charlie's or one of the more expensive detergents.

    Do you use a clean rinsing detergent for the rest of your laundry or just run an empty cycle with Charlie's before washing your diapers and covers? I had read that if I were to use clean rinsing then I needed to use it for all laundry, but we were spending over $15 per month just on laundry detergent! Would love to know more about how you do this!

    1. I use homemade detergent for all of our other laundry. I know you're *supposed to* use the cloth diaper detergent with all of your loads but we can't afford that either! I think my homemade detergent {which is just washing soda, laundry soap & borax} doesn't really leave residue in the washer.

  4. I use all pocket diapers and here is my wash routine: each diaper gets put in a wet bag (the same one in your picture actually!) – I do not take the inserts out in most cases since they fall out in the wash. Usually about every 3 days or 2, when the bag is full, I dump it in the washer with the bag. I use an inexpensive powdered detergent from Sam's (it is very mild with no scent- comes in a huge bucket) and put in about half the amount I would for a normal load. Then I run it on warm wash with an extra rinse cycle. They always come out clean, if there is still a smell on them, I wash them again with a normal load, but that is rare. I hang dry everything on dryer racks, and it usually takes about 12-18hrs for everything to dry.

    This works for me since 1) I only am using cloth on a toddler right now and 2) I got all my cloth diapers for super cheap off of ebay so I am not concerned about taking extra special care of them since i can always order more for less than $4 each.

    1. Your routine sounds pretty simple! I love that your inserts come out in the wash…that's takes away quite a bit of the ick factor too! Thanks for sharing!

  5. This is a weird question, but have you ever had birds "spoil" your drying laundry on the line? I'm a little worried about that as we have a GIANT tree in our back yard that many local birdies love.

    1. I've never had any issues with birds and laundry on the line but I've never had a clothesline close to trees. I'd be a little worried too but I'm sure unless the clothesline is under the tree, it'd be rare that they'd 'spoil' the laundry much!

    2. A friend of mine brought up the same question just a few weeks ago when I was talking about hanging laundry on the line (which I do quite frequently, even when it was 38 degrees Saturday morning). We have yet to get bird droppings on our clothes and we are surrounded by trees on all sides where the line is located. My friend, who lives in the city, somehow had a bird poop on her clothes on the line once and never hung them out to dry again.

      If it were to happen, I'd just re-wash it. No biggie deal (in my opinion).

    1. I have had issues off and on. We've moved 3 times since I started cloth diapering. I had more issues in our previous two homes than here due to water hardness. I honestly only stripped once in the first 8 months living here {and that was right before Weston was born, just to freshen them up!} Since Weston was born I've already stripped the inserts twice and the covers once. And I never have had to strip covers before! I'm guessing the fact that there are dirty diapers from 2 kids instead of just one is the culprit here since my loads aren't any larger since I'm breaking them up into two loads.

  6. What is your stripping routine? I have only used my diapers for 3 months and I am having stink issues, no leak issues though. I can go longer in between washes because my baby is not a heavy wetter, that could be the problem? Or because my family uses regular tide for detergent? I am not sure! Hopefully I can resolve the stink issues!

    1. Regular tide is highly recommended. Please see fluffloveuniversity.com to see their stripping routine. They have a special section regarding stink issues.

  7. Do you prefer the chrome drying rack? I am about to register and was debating about whether to get a wood one or the more expensive chrome.

    1. I had a wood one that was my sisters before my mother-in-law gave me this one {I gave my sister's back since she was cloth diapering too}. I honestly don't have a preference, I really think it comes down to whether you prefer the wood or chrome and how big the price difference is!

  8. silly question, soon to be new mama and newcloth diapering mama…why have both a diaper pail and a wet bag? why just not seperate them and throw them in all together? im sure there is a reason, but since I'm not super familar with how it all works i was wondering if you might have a suggestion?

    1. Not silly! I'm cloth diapering two right now so I just have a larger quantity of dirty diapers! When I just had one baby, everything went into the diaper pail and was washed all together. When we added number two, there were too many diapers to do that unless I wanted to wash every single day which I didn't. So I separate the covers (in the wetbag) and the inserts/prefolds/wipes (in the diaper pail) and do two different loads every day and a half to two days.

      I thought about getting a larger pail to store it all in but the reality is the contents of the diaper pail I have is the maximum amount of dirty diapers that my washer needs to wash. So, I purchased the wet bag to hold the covers and do this two part wash routine. The large wet bag also comes in handy when we're traveling {either a day trip or an overnight trip}. Just last weekend we went out of town for the night and I brought along the large wet bag to store the dirty diapers in…much easier to carry around than a diaper pail.

      Ask anymore questions you may have, I'm more than happy to help. I remember how many questions I had before I jumped into cloth diapering before my first was born!

  9. I've heard Charlie's is the worst soap to use on diapers. It's doesn't have enough detergent in it to actually get the diapers clean. It leads to a build up on the diapers and having to strip more often than you should. Have you heard this or had problems using it?

    1. I’m no longer using Charlie’s Soap. I switched from microfiber inserts to cotton prefolds as inserts even in my pockets and haven’t had any stink issues or build up!

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