Wash, Wear, Repeat. Cloth Diaper Laundry Made Simple.

Wash, Wear, Repeat. Cloth Diaper Laundry Made Simple.

When it comes to cloth diaper blog posts, how to wash cloth diapers is, for good reason, one of the most common topics. Whether the perfect cloth diaper wash routine has proven to be elusive to you or not, I hope you will get a lot out of this post on the subject.

Wash, wear, repeat. It used to be simple, right? When my grandmother told me about washing her cloth diapers, she held up her fists like she was ready to box and said “I used these!” She had a washboard, a bar of laundry soap and a bucket of (soft) water and went to work. Now, I live in an area with really hard water, so when I heard that she had a water softener, I knew that made her job much easier.


Alas, times have changed and our laundry has changed with it. Detergents have been “improved” and complicated with additives that coat fabrics with fragrance, optical brighteners, and fabric softeners. Washing machines have become more “efficient” and use less water and energy. Diapers have also evolved into multilayered, multi-component, and multi-textile poop catchers! It’s no wonder cloth diaper users want a straightforward detergent and wash routine example!


I’m hoping to give you a few tricks of the trade to simplify your wash routine, so stick with me...


Have you read our laundry guide &  laundry science pages? Take a second to go check it out, I’ll wait. :-)

So, now you know the basics of washing and all about the WATCH formula. All of these components play a part in getting fabric clean. Think of each of them as a part of a pie chart. When one is affected, the other components must be adjusted.


WATER - Natural surfactant that does the heavy lifting when it comes to cleaning your diapers.

ACTION - This is where an appropriate sized wash load comes into play. Too many or too few diapers in a wash load will impact how much agitation, and how clean, your diapers get.

TIME - Length of wash and/or soaking

CHEMICALS - Clean rinsing detergent and additives.

HEAT - Temperature of the water in your washing machine.


If you have hard water, you may need to use extra chemicals to counteract those minerals. If you can only wash on cold, you may need to soak your diapers for a bit right before washing or use detergent that works well in cold water. If one of the elements of the WATCH formula is adjusted, the other elements should be adjusted also.


Many cloth diaper users want to know what brand and how much detergent they should use. The truth is, we can’t give you an answer that will fit every situation. I wish we could. The answer will vary depending on your baby, how you feel about detergents, their ingredients and the environment, what type of washing machine you have, and where your water falls on the hard to soft water scale. Don’t worry though! We have resources where you can find local recommendations!


Real Diaper Circle Leaders are a great community resource. A Real Diaper Circle is a great group to ask questions. What detergents are working best in your area where your water hardness or softness is similar? Where can you find cloth diapering supplies locally? A question I frequently hear in my circle is, “How can I tell if I’m using too much detergent?” Check your final rinse cycle. Do you see soap suds? Don’t worry about agitation bubbles that pop quickly once your washer has stopped. If soap suds remain, continue to rinse until they are gone and decrease your detergent amount a little bit at a time. Find a Circle Leader near you! Check out the Real Diaper Association Local Resource Directory.


Bloggers are another great source for brand recommendations! Most bloggers review diaper brands which, if you know what you are looking for in a diaper, will give you a great idea if a diaper is right for your family. Blogger reviews of diaper creams and detergents may also be helpful but make sure to keep in mind that your water and the reviewers water may be very different, leading to different results.


Retailers and manufacturers are a wonderful source of information! They often have washing recommendations. If they are not local to you, make sure to let them know what kind of water you have so that they can give the appropriate advice.


Simple diapers make for a simple wash routine. Need help? The Real Diaper Association is here for you!



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