Cloth Diaper Wash Routine

This post may contain affiliate or referral links, meaning I may earn a sales commission at no extra cost to you. Please see my full affiliate disclosure here.

There always seem to be questions on forums and Facebook groups about how to wash cloth diapers. This isn’t such an easy question as people’s water is different or their children may have sensitivities to one thing or another. I can tell you how I wash my cloth diapers to give you some ideas.

*Note that due to moving to a house with harder water and my son being older which means more waste my routine has changed a bit since this post was written almost two years ago.

Washing Cloth Diapers

When we lived in New England we had soft to normal water and a regular, old school top-loading machine so washing diapers was easy. When we got word that we were moving to CO I found out that we would have hard water. I got nervous. I heard all of the hard water horror stories and I didn’t want to end up needing to adopt a complicated wash routine.

First, we had to buy a new machine because the old machine belonged to the old house. I chose the Maytag Bravos X because it had what I wanted for diapers – a top-loading HE machine (I heard too many horror stories about front loaders and didn’t want to go there), a bulky setting, and an extra rinse button. Not too complicated. I also love that it has a clear lid so I can make sure there aren’t any bubbles left in the rinse cycle.

Washing Cloth Diapers - Tide

Second, I had to figure out what I was going to do about detergent. After a lot of reading, I decided on Tide because it supposedly blocks the hard water minerals and I wouldn’t have to monkey around with Calgon and other stuff.

I rinse all poopy diapers with a diaper sprayer and put them in a large wet bag. When it’s full (about 2 days worth) it’s time to do diaper laundry. A typical load for me is about 15 diapers and this is how I wash them:

How To Wash Cloth Diapers

  • Warm wash on the hand wash cycle without detergent. (I don’t have a warm rinse option on my machine, but if you do that should be fine.)
  • Warm wash on the Bulky setting with Tide Ultra powder to the 2 lines or a little above
  • I press the deep clean and extra rinse buttons
  • Hang covers and wet bags to dry, and dry inserts and wipes in the dryer
  • On occasion I will add an oxygen bleach (like OxiClean or Biokleen) to the wash routine if my diapers are looking dingy during the colder months when sunning them is a bit more difficult.

Pre-rinse settings

Washing Cloth Diapers - Pre-rinse

Wash settings

Washing Cloth Diapers - Wash Settings

That’s it! Perfectly clean diapers every time and for the 5½ months that I have been using this routine I haven’t had any issues with stink or had a need to strip my diapers. We have also had less rash issues that we had in CT. I don’t know if this is due to my wash routine, a more modern machine, the switch to Tide, or a better handle on how to treat rashes at the beginning, but I’m sticking to it!

Since moving to a new house with harder water and my son being older with stronger waste I have updated my wash routine. You can see my updated wash routine here

Similar Posts


  1. Wow, your machine looks like something you’d find on the bridge of the starship Enterprise! LOL! I guess if your routine works, stick to it! I didn’t use cloth diapers, but I used to live in Las Vegas and the water was so hard you could practically hear it clanking out of the faucets. I always used Borax in my washing machine and that made the water nice and soft.

  2. Baby #1 doesn’t arrive until Dec, but I’m trying to learn as much as I can right now about CD. I appreciate reading washing routines so I can hopefully try and figure out what will work best. But I’m sure it takes a lot of trial and error to really get a routine that works. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Thank you. Any time anyone asks about an HE washer for diapers I suggest this one. Not super expensive in comparison to other HEs out there and it works great!

  3. Love the washing machine pics! Seems so high tech compared to mine! I have 3 settings heavy, medium, and light lol!

    1. The one we had in CT didn’t even have a gentle cycle! Washing machines have come a long way

    1. It’s not super shmancy but it is new so it looks like a spaceship when the laundry room is dark with all of its lights. It was one of the most reasonably priced machines and it has everything we need. I recommend it highly 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.