Don’t Overthink Your Cloth Diaper Laundry Routine

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Don't Overthink Your Cloth Diaper Laundry Routine

First thing’s first. If it works for you, do it. If it doesn’t, stop doing it.

Cloth diaper laundry routines are almost as individual as the person doing the laundry. You will see cloth diaper washing instructions on blogs, manufacturer websites and more. However, what works for Susie Homemaker will not necessarily work for you and vice versa.

You need to consider several things. What kind of water do you have? What kind of washing machine do you have? How many diapers are you washing per load? Are you washing diapers for a newborn, infant on solids, or toddler? What is the makeup of your child’s waste? See what I mean? None of the variables will be exactly the same for every person.

I followed a typically recommended wash routine when we lived in a soft to normal water area and it was working fine until K started eating solid foods. We then started getting nasty rashes that we couldn’t figure out. About once a month K would develop a sunburn type rash that would turn into open sores. Some have been the size of nickels or even quarters. I tried everything I could think of to fix this. I even went so far as to discuss testing him for allergies and gluten intolerance.

Then last summer we moved to a hard water area so I needed to change my routine. I didn’t want to mess around since it seemed like K was sensitive so I tried Tide and never looked back. It has worked really well for us and we have now been rash-free since we’ve lived here. This leads me to believe that my diapers weren’t getting clean enough because I was afraid to use too much detergent.

The bottom line is don’t be afraid to experiment with different detergents, different amounts, different washing routines. A cloth diaper wash routine shouldn’t be a convoluted thing. If it is, then something might need to change. Diaper laundry shouldn’t be difficult. 

The first step in developing a wash routine should be to know your water hardness. This will help you determine approximately how much detergent you should be using which, in my opinion, is the most important part of an effective wash routine. The map below will give you an idea, but it still isn’t exact. For example, in the rental house we lived in when we first moved here, we had hard water. We bought a house in another town about a mile and a half away and now our water is very hard and based on this map, we’re not in the very hard zone. Because of this I highly recommend getting a water test strip to find out for sure how hard or soft your water is. 

water hardness USA

*Please note that even though Tide is what works for us, this post isn’t a recommendation for Tide. It is a recommendation to experiment if your current routine isn’t working for you.

How is your current wash routine working for you? What has been your biggest difficulty with cloth diaper laundry


Detergent image courtesy of mrpuen at

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  1. We had a great laundry routine down, but our second child really had problems with my favorite detergent. He was suffering terribly from rashes and I had to totally switch detergents and start from scratch! I’m glad we found something that worked though!

  2. We had the easiest wash routine and it was perfect. Cold rinse, wash with Eco Sprout, extra rinse. No smells, clean diapers, happy mom and baby. Then our washer broke. Thought it would be smart to get an HE front load. I HATE IT. Wish John would let me sell it and get a top loader.

    I *think* I have solved the problem. We were using Tide, but had the chance to review some Molly’s Suds. If I use either 3 heaping scoops or 4 scoops, our diapers are clean and don’t get stinky. We have pretty hard water here.

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