Our cloth diaper cleaning routine

Cloth diapers were one of the few parenting choices we were 100% sure of from the start. Of course, when we started we really had no idea just how much pee and pooh could come out of one little human. So it took us a little while to get into a routine that works well for us. And to be honest, now that we are in the swing of it, it really isn’t that hard. Honest.

I’m not saying that this is the best routine, but here is what we do these days to keep from getting buried under a mountain of cute little nappies:

Step 1: Change bum. If it is a pee diaper go straight to step 4. If it is a pooh diaper, there are a few more steps.

Step 2: Wipe that butt. We use cloth wipes made from cut up chucks cloths and car cleaning shammies, and only use water to clean with.

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Step 3: Scrape. This is kind of the grossest part (but really isn’t so bad). We use a firm plastic spatula that we got from a second-hand store. My husband wrote “POOH” in giant letters just in case, but since it lives in our bathroom, on a string hanging from the tap in our laundry sink, there is really no chance that it could even get mixed up anywhere. We scrape poohs directly into the toilet as soon as possible and flush them away.

Step 4: Store & Soak. We bought this camping washing machine at the auction for like 15 bucks.It has been awesome! Best 15 bucks we ever spent. We separate the inners and outers, toss them in, and seal it up. Then just leave them. Once we have a full tumbler we then fill it with warm water and an eco-whitener and let them soak for at least an hour.

If we are out and about we just put the diaper and wipes in a dry bag until we get home and toss them in the tumbler. No biggie, really. A lot of my friends use disposables when out and about, but we’ve never had a problem with the dry bags.

It usually takes us 2-3 days to fill the tumbler. We have found that keeping the diapers “dry” during this wait time is MUCH less stinky that letting them soak.


Step 5: Wash. We wash our diapers on a long cycle in hot water with Eco-Store brand soap. Since they have already soaked, one wash almost always does the trick. If there are any stains, I do a quick rub with Sunlight soap and put back in the tumbler. My husband doesn’t worry about stains (“They’re diapers for goodness sake!”).

Step 6: Hang. We don’t own a clothes dryer. However, after visiting my parents and sister, I had some serious clothes dryer envy. Cuts down the total cleaning time by HOURS! But clothesline drying is possible, we just take advantage of every single sunny day to get a load of diapers out there.

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So that’s it. We are 9 months in and the routine is working well so far. Verti has transitioned onto solids, and our system perseveres. I have noticed that lately some of her pee diapers have been kind of stinky. Not when they come out of the wash, only after she pees. I wonder if that’s due to her new found love of brussel sprouts, or if I need to run the diapers through a special cycle to de-stink them a little. Any tips? I’m wondering if a vinegar soak would help, or running them through once with a non-eco detergent might freshen them up.

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Any tips out there from other cloth diapering mamas? Anyone else have stinky pee diapers?