Cloth diapers need to be washed and dried before you use them. This will fluff them up and make them absorbent.
Home Laundering is a Snap...
1. Shake "poop" into toilet. Newborn stools will be too loose to shake clean. You can optionally dunk newborn diapers in toilet bowl, use a diaper sprayer, or simply set your washing machine cycle for an extra initial rinse. Our machine has a pre-wash cycle that we love for this reason. If you do not have a pre-wash cycle on your washer, then consider running your diapers through an initial short cycle followed by a heavy cycle.
2. Collect soiled or wet diapers in a lined plastic pail. You can purchase a special made diaper pail, but we have found your basic plastic 52 quart garbage can and lid works just as well, is more affordable, and is available at your local department store.
3. You can optionally add a sprinkle of baking soda to your diapers and pail to help neutralize odors. Once mixed with water in your washer, the baking soda will help to lift stains.
3. For optimum cleanliness, limit the size of your load to no more than 24 diapers. As a general rule, the fewer diapers per load, the cleaner they will be.
4. Then, use WARM or HOT wash (no higher than 95 degrees Fahrenheit) and COLD rinse with high water level. Use a mild detergent with no phosphates, and minimal additives. Add only 1/2 the recommended amount of detergent for top-loaders and 1/3 the recommended dose for high efficiency and front-loaders.
Avoid all soaps and all "Free & Clear" and/or popular baby detergents. These detergents will leave a residue on your diapers that will affect the absorbency and may cause 'stinky' diapers and/or diaper rash. Country Save is safe detergent that you can probably find at your local health food store. To learn more about safe detergents for your cloth diapers please visit The Diaper Jungle's Diaper Detergent Chart. In washing your cloth diapers, there really is no right or wrong way to go about it. But there is a RIGHT detergent to use to avoid ruining your diapers. Please take a moment and find one that will work for you.
5. Dry in dryer on low heat. Add a dry towel to the dryer to speed the drying process. Occasionally you may wish to dry in dryer on high heat to help with sterilization. Drying in direct sunlight is also an excellent method; it helps to preserve the textiles of your diapers and is great at getting rid of stains. Hang drying will leave your diapers somewhat stiff. So to soften sun-dried dipes, you may choose to use the dryer for the last 15 minutes.
6. Some parents like to add 1/2 cup vinegar to the final rinse to reduce residue of detergent or hard water. Do not use vinegar when washing cloth diapers made from synthetic textiles...this includes most all diaper covers and some brands of cloth diapers, including our Fab Fitteds. Synthetic fibers tend to hang on to the vinegar smell.
7. Even if you follows all the rules above, you still might end up with occasional stinky diapers and less absorbent diapers due to pre-wash, detergent, and/or mineral residue. Simply replace your regular detergent with 1/4 cup Calgon water softener (found at your local grocers). This process is often referred to as diaper stripping. Use Calgon as often as needed, but not at every wash.
8. Finally, if your diapers are in need of a thorough deep cleaning, you can use a bit of Oxyclean in place of your regular detergent. Do this only when needed.