Washing Cloth Diapers 101

Washing cloth diapers yourself is much easier than you'd think. In short, you simply run your diapers through 3 cycles in your washing machine:

1. a short cold rinse (no detergent)
2. a long hot wash (with detergent)
3. a medium cold rinse (no detergent)

As for what to do with the diapers between washes, you can put them in any kind of trash can with a liner. I recommend a diaper pail liner specially made for cloth diapering, like these from Wahmies. I sell them for $17.95. For a baby that is exclusively breastfed, you do not need to rinse, scrape, or do anything at all to your diapers before washing, whether wet or soiled. It's hard to believe, but it's absolutely true! For babies who are eating solid food, you need to dump most of the solid matter into the toilet before putting it in your diaper pail. The washing machine will take care of small amounts, like smears. 

When washing day comes, remove the entire pail liner from the diaper pail and carry it to the washing machine. Holding the bag over the machine, turn it inside out so that all of the diapers fall into the machine. Then drop the pail liner itself into the machine, still turned inside out. It's that simple!

Many moms want to know how often to wash their diapers, and I recommend every 2-3 days. Some diaper services that do the washing for you pick up only once a week. I've used this kind of service before, and once a week is not often enough. I also get questions about the smell, and to be totally honest, a cloth diaper pail does not smell any worse than one filled with disposable diapers.

For more tips on washing, including a list of which kinds of detergents are safe to use with cloth diapers, see the Bummis website.