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2.) Washing How to + Additives Info.

NOTE: This is a basic tutorial of general washing instructions. There are many styles of diapers/covers/etc. out there. Always go by manufacturers instructions when possible.
Information here is from many different sources, including personal experience with cloth diapering for over several years, online mom's cloth diaper groups, manufacturers washing guidelines, and research.



It is recommended that you wash your new diapers at least 4 times to ensure anything left over from manufacturing them is gone.

Hot Wash, Hot wash, Dry than repeat.

Here is the general/basic steps for cleaning soiled diapers. There are several variations that can be made later on once your used to the basic process.

1. Place soiled diapers into the wash. Put your water level up to the highest setting. Then do a COLD rinse cycle or full COLD wash cycle with no detergent (recommended if large amount of diapers or very soiled).

2. Add whichever detergent you decide on (see detergent page for info.)at 1/2 the recommended amount. Wash on HOT for longest cycle available.

3. Add in a 2nd rinse if available. If not, rewash again (NO detergent) on short cycle to ensure they are rinsed fully.

4. Tumble dry on medium-high heat or hang to dry.

Vinegar and Baking Soda

When diapers tend to get an ammonia smell that just won`t go away one first lines of defense often recommended is vinegar or baking soda being added to the wash. The reason for this is the two have different PH levels(vinegar is low and baking soda is high) that can give help in cleaning diapers. If your water has a low PH level, the detergent might not be working effectively, adding baking soda can help as it raises the PH and lets your detergent work better. On the other hand, some detergents have too high of PH levels. If you have normal water and use a high ph detergent, use of vinegar can help to get your diapers cleaner as it will lower your PH and allow the detergent to rinse out better. Giving you less chance for stink. So during the first rinse cycle, add a couple tbs. vinegar or 1/2 to the line in a downy ball. MAKE SURE to do an extra rinse!

NOTE: Only do this on an as needed basis as vinegar can damage covers and AIO`s by making them less waterproof.


The general concensus with manufacturers on use of oxyclean is that it`s a no-no. It breaks down your diapers fabric and elasic quicker. With that being said, there are many who have used it with no problems, but only on a `as needed` basis. It is effective at breaking in new diapers, hemp, prefolds,etc. and also at stripping diapers. A more effective way to get an oxygen boost in your wash, which does help to clean more efficently, is using a oxygen cleaner like Oxyclean Baby or Oxobrite (neither has any extra additives).

Water Softeners

No problem at all to use and is recommended if you have hard water which can make cleaning less effective and cause stinky diapers. Use as recommended on the packaging.


Ok for cotton fabrics but not recommended with hemp as it doesn`t wash out well.


Only if absolutley necessary on diapers only, not on covers and no other way you`ve tried is getting rid of stink issues.(I don`t recommend it but some people do say it`s ok here and there.) Bleach will break down your diapers quicker but it is effective at eliminating odor problems. Only use a tablespoon or less if you do decide to try it. If it`s stains that are a problem, nothing works better than an extra wash and some sun!

Fabric Softeners

Don`t use. They will leave a coating/film on your diapers which decreases absorbancy and can also irritate baby`s skin.


Not recommended if it`s in the detergent due to possible irritation of baby`s skin. Also can bind to the diapers if they have petroleum. Tea tree oil or lavender oil is ok during the final rinse to deodorize.

Citrus Oil

Best to avoid as too many variables depending on what you are washing.

Dawn Dishsoap
Good for stripping diapers and breaking in prefolds and hemp. Lately I am hearing more about mom's using this for their everyday wash. 2 tbs. is all that's needed and many are quite happy with it. It's effective at breaking down all the 'gunk' in diapers. Others seem to still wonder how effective a dish soap is at getting diapers clean. I have personally tried it and have had success. About every 4-5 washes I add a tbs with my regular detergent to help give a mini-strip to my diapers.

Bac Out by Bi-O-Kleen

Useful with stripping diapers (cotton)but be sure to rinse very well as some have said it's caused baby irritation. It has a blend of naturally living enzymes and botanical extracts so less chance for problems, but still use with care.

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