How to Wash Diapers

You’ve just had a baby. Congratulations! Now comes the steep learning curve. How do you save a bit of money so that you can send your bundle of joy to college one day? The answer begins with the diapers. By using cloth diapers, you can cut down your disposable diaper budget, and keep some money in your pocket. Cloth diapers are easier on the environment than disposables. And cleaning diapers, as it turns out, is not very difficult!


1.Buy a diaper pail, (or use a five gallon bucket) and place it near the toilet.

2.If you decide to use a wet pail, put two inches of water in the bucket and add about a half a cup of borax or baking soda and stir.

  • As you add more diapers, the two inches of liquid you have added will “wick up” by capillary action, keeping all the diapers a lot fresher than they would be without the solution. And yet, because you are only using a couple of inches of water, your pail won’t get so heavy you can’t lift it.

3.Drop diapers that are only wet directly into the pail.

4.Use a diaper sprayer or spoon to scrape solids into the toilet.

  • A spoon works better than a flat scraper because the curved surface of the spoon gives you more control. Once you have scraped the diaper, drop it in the bucket. If it was a really messy one, you may have to dip the diaper in the toilet to rinse it or use a diaper sprayer which connects to the back valve of your toilet and works great.
  • Choose a mismatched spoon for this task so you always know which is the diaper spoon. Most thrift stores have inexpensive, mismatched flatware.
5.Collect enough diapers to do a load of laundry. Depending on how many diapers you have and how often you need to change them, you should wash diapers every day or every other day. Thus having plenty of fresh, clean diapers on hand, and greatly reducing the odor.
6.Do a cold wash or pre-wash on the diapers to remove most of the loose matter.This may be less necessary with a wet pail or pre-soak method.

7.Wash the diapers in a washing machine. Use hot water, and do not add fabric softener. Fabric softener can reduce the absorbency of the diapers. Use 3/4 of a cup of vinegar, instead. It will keep your diapers soft and absorbent.

  • Depending on your water quality, you may need to experiment with different types of laundry detergent or adding an extra rinse to the end of the wash cycle. Use only about 1/3 of the amount of laundry detergent that you would normally would otherwise the absorbency of the diaper will be reduced. Chose a laundry detergent that is specifically designed for babies. the use of regular detergent over time can be very irritating on a baby’s tender skin.

8.Line dry the diapers. Sunshine is best, but you can dry them on a rack indoors if weather or living arrangements don’t allow outdoor drying.

  • If you dry them in a machine they tend to wear out faster. Also be aware that many all-in-ones and wraps lose their waterproofing if you machine dry them.
  • For fast, easy air drying, purchase a hanger for multiple pairs of pants with a lot of bars on it. This way you can fit more than one diaper per hanger. Hang the diapers up on your shower curtain rod with the fan blowing. When dry just hang the pants hanger full of diapers with the babies things, instantly put away.
  • Line drying also saves money. Clothes dryers take a lot of power to run.
9.Fold and store the diapers for reuse. Fold them the way you will fold them to put them on the baby, so that they will be ready to go.