Here is my basic wash routine:  

1. Shake solid poop into the toilet and then spray off any remaining solids with the Diaper Sprayer.  If using a pocket, shake out the insert and put everything in the diaper pail.  Once prepped, all your diapers can be washed together.  (See prepping instructions below for the first wash before use.)   

2. Wash your diapers at least every three days, preferably every two days.  Start with a cold prewash, adding 1-2 Tbsp EcoNuts Ammonia Bouncer if you have been noticing an ammonia smell (you can also use Ammonia Bouncer in a short soak in a sink or as a pre-spray).  (If you don't have prewash, just do a short wash and skip the rinse.)  The idea of the cold prewash is to remove urine and any solids so that the main wash can do its job most effectively, and to prevent staining; the Ammonia Bouncer neutralizes the ammonia.  Use as much water as possible; if using a front loader, you can trick it into adding more water by using the delicate cycle.   

3. Then wash on a long HOT cycle.  We like Lulu's in the Fluff or Charlie's Soap cloth diaper detergent.  For a load of 15-20 diapers, try 1 Tablespoon in a top loader and 1/2 Tablespoon in a front loader. If you are having problems with staining, you can add 1 scoop of Oxyboost or Charlie's Oxygen Bleach (both pure oxygen bleaches) to this main wash.   

4. Do a double rinse.  Most washers will only do cold rinses, but if your washer will do them, warm or hot rinses are more effective.  Your diapers should smell like nothing when coming out of the washer.  If they smell, it was likely not enough detergent.  In this case, wash them again with more detergent than you used the first time.

5. You can dry almost everything on medium heat, but hang any shells or covers that have Velcro/Aplix closures.  If you have a stain, lay it to dry in direct sunlight to bleach out the stain.

What are the approved detergents?

Your diaper detergent needs to be free of enzymes, optical brighteners, dyes, stain guards, and essential oils.  We also recommend avoiding fragrances as they can mask other laundry issues.  All of these ingredients can cause problems for your diapers or your baby's skin, and they are not always listed in the ingredient list on the back of the detergent.  You can call the manufacturer to ask, but here is a short list of approved detergents:


Lulu's in the Fluff
Rockin' Green
Country Save/BumGenius Diaper Detergent
Allens Naturally (powder version)                                                
Charlie's Soap                                                            
Thirsties Pre-Wash and Super Wash
Tiny Bubbles
BioKleen Fragrance Free
Ecos Free and Clear
Mountain Green Free and Clear
All Free and Clear (Military version only - it is free of brighteners)

Some manufacturers allow other detergents, but these are the ones nearly all agree are safe.

Why cant I use Tide or Dreft or natural soap or whatever I am currently using?

Tide, Dreft and other mass-market detergents contain those additives that don't rinse out of the diapers and build up over time.  This buildup eventually causes the diapers to stop absorbing and start leaking, and will void any manufacturer warranty, and can cause irritation to the babys skin.  Natural soaps can make a waxy coating in hard water.

Can I use homemade laundry detergent?

Sometimes, maybe.  The combination of soap, hard-ish water, and polyester is bad because it will create a waxy residue on the diapers that will make them leaky.  In Pittsburgh, we have hard-ish water, and so if you also have a lot of pocket or polyester diapers, you will likely have a problem.

Can I use fabric softener on my diapers?

No!  Fabric softener will make your diapers repel instead of absorb.  If you think your diapers are stiff, toss some dryer balls in the dryer with them, or use a little white vinegar in the rinse cycle.  Sometimes using fabric softener and dryer sheets on your other clothes will still cause problems because their residue can remain in the washer and dryer and transfer to the diapers.  Use the dryer balls with your clothing, too - you won't notice a difference!

What can I do about stains?

Use the Diaper Sprayer to rinse off every poopy diaper.  You can use free and clear oxygen bleach to your hot wash.  Also, you can hang the clean, stained diaper to dry in the sunlight (on the dashboard of your car works well) - the UV rays are an effective stain-remover. Flushable liners can also help.

Can I use regular chlorine bleach?

Yes, sparingly, but check with the manufacturer of the diaper first, and never use it on bamboo.  I have used 1 Tablespoon chlorine bleach once a month on pocket diaper inserts without problems.  I dilute it in a quart of water before adding it to the hot wash.  It can wear out your diapers sooner so don't overdo it.  Do not use bleach on dyed natural fibers as it will lift the color.

Can I wash the diapers with my regular laundry?

If you are willing to wash your laundry with the same detergent and same method as your diapers, then it is fine.  I would do the cold pre-wash with just the diapers and then add the laundry for the main wash.

Do I have to use hot water?

Many people have success using cold water only, but I have not tried it.

My diapers smell like ammonia.  What can I do?

Buildup of ammonia salts from your babys urine is causing the smell.  Try Eco Nuts Ammonia Bouncer.  You can read more here.

My diapers smell bad when the baby pees on them, or my diapers smell faintly of poop even when they're clean.

You likely need to use more detergent in the main wash.

What is stripping and how do I do it?

Stripping means to wash the diapers repeatedly in the hottest water possible with no detergent until you don't see any more bubbles.  This is done if your diapers are repelling because you've been using too much detergent or the wrong detergent and it has built up in the fabric. When you have a good routine, you should not have to strip your diapers.


Microfiber/microfleece/suedecloth/covers (POLYESTER)

Simply wash the diaper once with a small amount of approved detergent and dry on hot. 

Cotton all-in-ones/cotton fitteds/bamboo fitteds/cotton prefolds/hemp or cotton inserts or doublers (ANYTHING WITH COTTON, HEMP OR BAMBOO)

The natural fibers need to be broken in before the diaper will absorb.  Wash them twice on hot with an approved detergent, and then dry on hot to remove the lint, and then wash them twice more on hot with a little bit of detergent, and then dry them on hot (4 cycles). They can now be used but will become more absorbent over the next 6-8 washes. WASH THESE SEPARATELY FROM SYNTHETIC FABRIC DIAPERS WHILE THESE ARE BEING PREPPED.  Once the diapers are prepped, they can all be washed together.