Monday, January 9, 2012

Washing Routines

When I first decided to cloth diaper, I was really nervous about washing them.  I read all of this information saying that you need to soak the diapers for a few hours, use a special soap that you have to order from the internet, all these crazy elaborate routines... I was freaked out.  I followed the advice at first, I used the special detergent (first Purex Free and Clear, and then Rockin' Green) and only used 2 tablespoons of it per load.  It was fine at first, but eventually my diapers were stinky and awful.  As soon as he would pee, the whole diaper smelled like poop.  I actually almost gave up on cloth diapering because it was so gross.  Then I read that Tide was actually a really good detergent to use, and I was intrigued.  Every place said to avoid detergents with fragrance, dyes, and enzymes but Tide had ALL of those things.  I figured that I didn't have anything left to lose at that point, so first I bleached everything then started using Tide.  What a difference!

In my experience, those natural detergents just don't work and sometimes you have to use a little bleach.  I mean, think about it- what would you do if you had a bunch of shirts that had gotten peed and pooped on?  Would you skimp on the detergent?  No way.  You would use a good strong detergent that would clear the mess away, and you might even add a bit of bleach for good measure.  Some babies really are sensitive to fragrances and enzymes and if that is the case then you shouldn't use something like Tide, but most babies will be just fine.  It's all experimentation, so sometimes you have to try a few different detergents until you find what works, or add in extra rinses at the end.  But once you have it down, it's great!

So, this is my washing routine that I do every other morning.  It's easy, it's uncomplicated, and it works like a dream.  I have a non high efficiency top loading machine with hard water and I use liquid detergents.

- Cold rinse/spin cycle.  This gets the bulk of the pee/poop residue off of the diapers.
- Hot "Super Heavy Duty" cycle, Gain or Tide detergent measured to the "2" line
- 2 more cold rinse/spin cycles.  These extra rinses make sure that all of the detergent has been rinsed from the diapers.  I've found that if I only do one rinse, my son sometimes gets a little rashy so I always do 2.
After that, I take out my pocket shells and PUL covers and hang them up to dry on a drying rack
- Cold rinse/spin cycle with a cap full of plant based fabric softener- either 7th Generation or Ecover.  You can skip this step, but I like having soft diapers.
- 2 dryer cycles on medium heat.  You can dry on high, but medium will make the diapers softer. I add a dry towel to the dryer and it cuts down on drying time.

Start with a really basic routine like that, and then tweak from there as needed.  If you're having trouble and need help, feel free to contact me.  Another good resource is Diaper Swappers.  The ladies on DS can help you solve just about any laundry problems.


  1. Hi there...I have a portable washing machine too, it is a pain because I don't think the water is hot enough from the sink, and my bumgenius diapers are not clean completely. I use country save but since you use tide, I might try it out.Do you use powder or liquid tide? Thanks!

    1. This is going to be a huge reply, and I'm sorry! The first thing that I would do would be to wash all of your diapers with a bit of bleach in the wash, just to get everything clean and to start with a clean slate. Bumgenius reccomends bleaching every so often, so your diapers will be fine. How much detergent do you use? I'm not familiar with crunchy clean, but I use up to the "2" line with Tide/Gain, so if you want to stick with the crunchy clean you can first try using more of it. And, finally, what part of the diaper isn't coming clean- the pocket shell or the insert, and are you using the original microfiber inserts? I found that even using Tide and bleach, I couldn't keep my microfiber inserts from smelling gross so I switched to hemp inserts.

  2. Hi Meghan,

    Thanks for getting back to me.I am so glad I found you. I use 1/4 cup of country save powder detergent (it's what bumgenius recommends), but since I have a portable kenmore washing machine that I managed to hook up to the bathtub I think the water may not be hot enough. The mirco fiber inserts don't come out clean, the pocket covers do though. I will take your advise and bleach them (which i have done before, I just don't want to bleach too often) If I do switch to hemp, which brand do you recommend, and do they come out clean? Also can you please tell me if you use liquid tide or powered tide? Thank you!!!

    1. Do you run the water until it's hot before you hook up the machine? I don't know if it makes any difference, but I always run the water in my sink until it's scalding hot then I turn the faucet off and hook it up real quick. I use Thirsties hemp inserts ( and also folded up flannel receiving blankets and have never had stinky issues with either of those. I personally use liquid Tide, but I know that people use the powder too. I think that it's just personal preference.