Cloth Diaper Wash Routine {With a Free Printable}

How to Choose Your Cloth Diaper Wash Routine


What you need to know about cloth diapers and your wash routine

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Find the Right Cloth Diaper Wash Routine for Your Family

PLUS: Free printable for your cloth diaper wash routine. 

Cloth diaper wash routines can be made complicated REALLY FAST! If you Google search cloth diaper wash routines or scan YouTube for a routine, you will often find yourself more confused than when you started. If you follow the Fluff Love & CD Science group on Facebook like I do, you may end up thinking maybe cloth diapers are more stressful than disposable because people are making it complicated! It’s not complicated, I promise. Every person will have a different wash routine that works for their family, their washer, and their water. In this post I will break down some key tips in determining the best wash routine for YOUR family and I will mention the wash routine that works best with my family.

What you need to know about cloth diaper wash routines

Tip #1: Know your water (for your cloth diaper wash routine).

Most of us have some degree of hard water. Unless you have a water softener added to your water line, you’re going to need to add water softener to each diaper load you do. Here’s why: Ever notice the mineral deposit build up on your shower head or sink nozzle? I’m going to assume you do. We try to use chemicals to break-down that mineral deposit on our hardware so that we can get that shiny look once again and half the time it doesn’t work!

The same goes for your diapers. That hard water is creating mineral deposits on your diapers that can trap in bacteria! This bacteria creates stinky diapers and leads to ammonia. The buildup also causes leaking because instead of the liquids being absorbed, they are being repelled.

So, what you’ll need to do BEFORE washing your first load of diapers is to test your water to make sure that you do not have hard water. You can buy a cheap water testing kit at most convenient stores. I know Home Depot has one too! If you do have hard water, you’ll need to buy a water softener that you can add to each load. The most recommended water softeners to use are either Borax (1/2 cup per load) or Calgon (one cap full per load). I have used both but I find myself liking Calgon better.

Tip #2: Find the proper cloth diaper wash routine for your washer.

Surprisingly, according to the washer we use we will need to have a specialized wash routine. The easiest way to find your routine according to your washer is to visit the Fluff Love University page and look up your washer. They will list a specific routine and explain why you should use that routine. Click HERE to find your washer.

Tip #3: Find a good detergent for your cloth diaper wash routine.

It can be tricky to find a good detergent that is cheap. The best solution I have come up with is purchasing the powder Tide. The first initial purchase is expensive but the awesome thing about Tide is that they include coupons inside the box for your next purchase. I believe the last coupon I used was a $3 off coupon. I’m sure you can find a coupon somewhere online for your first purchase but I have always been lazy. OOPS.

It really is good to have a nice detergent because it works with the water softener you add. Most powdered detergents come with water softer already in them, liquids do as well but not nearly as much. Adding the water softener to your water acts like a boost to the already built-in softeners in your detergent. They will work together to overcome the foe of hard water! Another thing to mention is that using too little of detergent is much worse than using too much. It will be better to have extra clean diapers than diapers that aren’t clean. Detergent build-up is a myth, it will not keep your diapers from absorbing properly. Usually if you find suds in your diapers it is because the hard-water trapped some detergent in them.

Click HERE for the list of approved detergents. In the past I used Seventh Generation because I wanted a more natural detergent cleaning my diapers but after a couple of months I noticed that the detergent wasn’t working as well so I had to switch to Tide. Since using Tide, I have not had any problems with my diapers.

I use the detergent formula for “Skittle Farts” to wash my diapers. This formula is simply line 1 of Mango Tango Gain and line 1 or two of Tide in the pre-wash. Main wash is also line 1 (can do line 2) of Mango Tango Gain and line 3 or 4 of Tide. You do not have to add Gain in the pre-wash sooo sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t. Both ways turn out smelling similar so if you would like to save detergent, use it only in the main wash.

Tip #4: Final tip, make sure the diaper cream you are using is CD safe.

There are many diaper creams that can stick to the fibers of your diaper and cause repelling. Once the cream is on the fibers, it is really hard to get off! I usually have to use a tooth brush and dawn dish soap. It takes FOREVER and we don’t want that! Cloth Diaper safe creams are ones that are petroleum-free. If you have a cream that isn’t recommend for diapers, simply add a piece of paper towel in your diaper to act as a liner or buy some disposable liners.  Click HERE to read more about diaper creams and cloth diapers.

** Note, none of these links are affiliate links. I find that Fluff Love University has the most educated information in easy to find places. They make lists and have explanations. They are not the only source out there but I find them to be one of the best.**

It can be SO HARD to explain how to wash or care for my cloth diapers to those who are taking care of my baby for the day so I decided to make a printable with the information. I have this printable in my babysitter booklet and in front of the wash machine for my husband because to this day he still claims that he doesn’t know how to wash the diapers. I think my husband is applying the “if I don’t learn it, I won’t have to do it” thinking, but now I created something that takes the excuse away! 🙂

If you like this post, check out how much money we saved with switching to cloth diapers.

Click the picture below to get your own FREE cloth diaper wash routine printable. I left the titles and graphics, you will only need to write out the descriptions. Enjoy!

Do you have a detergent formula or recipe that you love? Please share by leaving a comment below! 

Cloth Diaper Wash Routine Printable


cloth diaper wash routine and printable



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  1. Hi! I saw on the printable to avoid the sanitize wash, but I didn’t see the explanation. I’m new to this game and have been using the sanitize cycle for my second wash. What is the damage? Thanks!

    • Hi Wendy! So, sanitize wash is a great option for the few times you must resort to bleaching your diapers — with all other cases, that cycle tends to be overly rough on the diapers and will break down the fibers much quicker. I believe sanitize cycle uses extra cycles not needed for our diapers and overly hot water; those tend to be the two culprits for diaper damaging. We really want to avoid those “extra” cycles because they can cause unclean, damaged, or sometimes moldy diapers. If you have an HE washer, the main thing you want to keep in mind is that they do not have agitators which will help rub the diapers/icky poop off. So, the best way to keep your diapers clean is by making sure you run the main cycle with a full load (aka: towels, bedding, whatever bulky). Hope that helps!

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