Monday, August 12, 2013

How often should you wash cloth diapers?

As your cloth diaper stash grows, there becomes somewhat of a discrepancy between how long you can go before doing laundry versus how long you should go.  Waiting too long to wash your cloth diapers can be problematic for the diapers and end up making more work for you in the end.  It is recommended to wash your diapers about every other day, and occasionally, every third day. 

Thicker cloth diapers can be more difficult to launder and benefit the most from frequently washing


Why wash your diapers frequently:

1. Prevent ammonia damage
Urine converts naturally to ammonia over time.  Ammonia is a harsh compound that can be damaging to elastics and PUL.  Ammonia oxidizing bacteria feed on ammonia and convert it to nitrite.  Moist diapers that are filled with urine will help the bacteria population expand and make your diapers more likely to be stinky.

2. Make diapers easier to clean
Poopy diapers, or diapers with high amounts of ammonia, will be difficult to clean.  If breastfed poops are neglected for too long, poop will become difficult to rinse off.

Tips to stretch laundry day:

If you really must stretch the amount of time between laundry days, there are several things you can do.

1. Pre-rinse diapers
Rinsing diapers in a toilet, tub, or with a diaper sprayer, will help dilute the urine and remove breastfeed poop (solid food poops should always be immediately rinsed and flushed down a toilet).  This simple measure will help keep urine from rapidly converting to ammonia and also make it easier to clean your diapers. I really recommend the pre-rinse method because it reduces the potential for ammonia damage.

2. Pre-soak
Pre-soaking diapers before washing is not recommended for all brands of diapers, so be sure to check your diaper manufacturer's instructions.  This method will not prevent damage to PUL and elastics, but it will help loosen stuck on poopy diapers that may not come clean in the wash. You can do your pre-soak with or without cloth diaper-safe detergent for 15-30 minutes (check your manufacturer's website for instructions).


  1. This is good for me to remember and note before baby comes in a few weeks. I have LOTS of newborn dipes, so I'm sure I could stretch laundry days reaaalllly far. I need to stay on top of it to keep these problems at bay! Thanks for the reminder ;)

  2. I personally wash mine every third, although sometimes every other.