(done)COPY - General Washing

General Washing Instructions for Diapers & Covers

Treatment of diapers before laundering:

  • Ensure that most solid waste has been rinsed from the diaper into the toilet, unless it is breast-fed baby poop, which is water soluble and can go straight into the washing machine. Use a Bumkins Diaper Sprayer for easier cleanup.
  • If your diapers have Velcro closures, ensure they are closed or covered before laundering.
  • If you use disposable liners, ensure they are removed from diapers before laundering.
  • In most cases, inserts will agitate out of the diaper during the wash cycle. However, to ensure thorough cleaning, pull them out of the diaper pocket prior to laundering.
  • If staining is an issue, pretreat any soiled areas with a cloth diaper safe stain remover, following stain remover’s instructions.

Wash Routine:

  • Start with a cool Prewash, Speed Wash, or Rinse & Spin.
    • For extra stinky diapers or very hard water, try adding a small amount of detergent to this stage.
  • Select Heavy or Long Wash and use warm to hot water.
    • If you are using water softeners such as Calgon or Borax, add them here. Use enough detergent to properly clean a heavily soiled load. If you feel your diapers aren’t getting clean, add more detergent. These are the dirtiest items you are putting in your machine! You want to wash out the bacteria effectively.
  • Dry in dryer on normal to medium heat, or line-dry.
    • If line drying, bring diapers inside immediately upon drying to safeguard the elastic.

Detergents, Drying & More

Detergents and Additives:

Avoid fabric softeners (including detergent that contains softeners) and dryer sheets as they will cause diapers to repel, not absorb. Plant-based detergents work well for diaper washing, but you may need to add more detergent. We prefer Allen’s Naturally or Rockin’ Green Detergents for an eco-friendly wash routine. If you are washing in hard water, you can add ½ cup Borax or 1 capful Calgon to your wash cycle to combat dissolved minerals naturally present in the water.

Water Level:

Both standard and HE machines will wash cloth diapers properly when used correctly. HE machines will have longer cycles to make up for using less water, to ensure adequate wash times let each cycle run for it’s allowed time. If you have a non-HE machine, aim to fill the drum ⅔ to ¾ high with water. Too much water inhibits the agitation needed to properly clean the diapers and too little doesn’t allow for proper cleaning.


If you do not have a water softener, extra rinse cycles actually do more harm than good. If you have a water softener, an extra rinse may be necessary if diapers come out feeling slimy.


Diapers can be line dried or tumble dried. Pocket diapers and covers generally dry quite quickly; natural fabric diapers and AIO’s will often take a bit longer to dry. Wool Dryer Balls speed up drying time by 30% and impart softness without coating the diaper fabric with chemicals. One of the most effective and environmentally friendly ways to dry diapers is to line dry until almost dry, then toss in the dryer with wool dryer balls simply to soften the fabric.

Cleaning Soiled Diapers

Removing poop: Solid waste from exclusively-breast-fed (EBF) babies does not need to be rinsed. Once formula or food has been introduced, all solids must be rinsed from diapers prior to tossing into diaper pail or before laundering. A Bumkins Diaper Sprayer hooked up to your toilet can be used to rinse solids from diapers. Alternatively, flushable Bumkins Diaper Liners can be used to catch solids and then be flushed along with them.

Storing Soiled Diapers

After removing solid wastes, store soiled diapers in a ‘wet bag’ or in a diaper pail lined with a ‘diaper pail liner’. Wet Bags and Diaper Pail Liners should be washed with the load of diapers. Diapers should be laundered every 1-3 days.

Caring for Wool Covers

Lanolizing wool covers:

This is recommended for new covers, and when your wool covers begin to lose their waterproofing, usually every 2 –8 weeks depending on use and wool type. We recommend the initial lanolization be done with Solid Lanolin as it gives a heartier treatment than Liquid Lanolin. Liquid Lanolin is fine for normal maintenance, but if you experience a decrease in waterproofing in your covers, a periodic treatment with solid lanolin is helpful.

To lanolize your wool with solid lanolin:

  1. Melt a small amount (minimum pea-sized or a tad more) of the solid lanolin in a cup of hot water or carefully in the microwave.
  2. Rinse the new wool covers thoroughly under cool, running water and gently squeeze out excess.
  3. Fill your sink with warm water and add melted or liquid lanolin.
  4. Diapers must soak for at least 4 hours.
  5. For best results, covers should be turned inside-out.
  6. Soak the covers for at least 20 minutes or for a really good, robust lanolization, soak overnight. If you have added too much lanolin, your covers may feel a little tacky or sticky. This stickiness will be reduced as the extra lanolin works its way into your covers, which you can help by gently massaging the cover.

Washing wool covers:

This only needs to be done when your covers begin to retain odor, usually every 1 – 4 weeks depending on use and type of wool. We carry various types of Wool Wash that work best with your wool diapers.

To wash your wool diaper:

  1. Rinse your wool covers thoroughly under cool, running water and gently squeeze out excess. This is necessary to remove the urine salts retained by the wool which dry the fibers and eventually retain odor.
  2. Fill your sink with warm water and add a lanolin-enriched wool wash.
  3. Gently agitate your covers.
  4. Apply wool wash directly to stains if needed.
  5. Soak covers as desired.
  6. Drain water from sink.
  7. While it is not necessary to rinse, rinsing in cool water will remove soap residue.
  8. Gently squeeze out excess water and lay flat to dry.