Cloth Diaper Laundry

Perhaps the biggest turnoff to using cloth diapers is having to wash dirty cloth diapers. No one likes cleaning up someone else’s messes—but parents do a whole lot of that anyway. And you know what? Washing cloth diapers isn’t as complicated or as bad—for you or for the environment—as you may have heard or read online.

Cloth Diaper Laundry Basics

If there’s one thing you learn from us about washing cloth diapers, let it be this: keep it simple and remember SUDS when doing cloth diaper laundry: Simple wash routine, Use enough detergent, Duration, Skip the additives.

Some other tips to get you started with cloth diaper laundering and to help you avoid common laundry mistakes can be summed up in this list of do’s and don’ts:


  • Wash cloth diapers every 2-3 days
  • Use warm or hot water
  • Add the recommended amount of laundry detergent listed on the detergent’s label
  • Use fragrance and additive-free detergents
  • Put diapers through an extra rinse cycle
  • Choose a wash cycle that’s at least 45 minutes (no speed cycles!)
  • Follow the care labels on the cloth diapers
  • Wash cloth diapers separately from other laundry
  • Discard most solids before putting into your diaper pail
  • Use BioLiners or a diaper sprayer (makes removing poop easier)


  • Use fabric softeners, water-repellent diaper creams, or additives, i.e. baking soda, vinegar, essential oils
  • Have too much or too little water in the washer
  • Use half the recommended amount of detergent (even though some companies and bloggers may tell you to)

Detergents, Drying, Discoloration, and Smells, Oh My!

Mainstream vs. Plant-based Detergents

We’ve found that regular or mainstream detergents, like Tide and Gain, work best to get cloth diapers clean. That being said, if you want to use plant-based detergents, you’ll probably have to use more detergent than the label recommends to get your diapers thoroughly clean.

Dryer vs. Air-Drying

PUL or TPU covers or shells need to air dry. Most everything else can go in your dryer (check your diaper’s label and follow its instructions). But, you can also air-dry on a clothesline or drying racks.

Removing Stains and Smells

Stains happen—but they don’t have to linger, and neither do smells. Remove cloth diaper stains by laying cloth diapers out in the sun to dry. The sun magically makes stains disappear in a few hours. It can also naturally brighten whites.

As for troubleshooting the stink, ask yourself some questions: Did I use enough detergent? Did I use too much or not enough water? Did I wait too long to wash these diapers? If you answered no, yes, and/or yes, then make the change to get rid of the stink. You can also try deep cleaning, which only needs to be done if after a few washes you notice those barnyard-like smells are lingering.

Water and Energy-Saving Laundry Tips

Tell people you’re trying to be more environmentally conscious by using cloth diapers and they’ll likely throw the water myth in your face. Yes, cloth diapers need to be washed after each use, but washing cloth diapers over a 2.5-year period only accounts for about 5% of a household’s total water usage on average. And if you’re still worried, there are plenty of ways you can  maximize your laundry efficiency, like not soaking your diapers, using the energy-saving settings on your washer, airy-drying, among other things.


To make washing cloth diapers a little easier on yourself, consider using more than just water, laundry detergent, and a washing machine. Some GroVia and parent-approved cloth diaper laundry products include:

Our cloth diaper laundering information is simply a guide to get you started. It might take some trial and error until you find the laundering solution that best fits your lifestyle, the cloth diapers of choice, and your baby’s diaper dandies.

Check out our laundry articles under the Learn tab to learn even more about cloth diaper laundering. As always, feel free to personally reach out with any questions you have via phone (1-877-899-BABY), email (, or live chat.