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.
  • 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.

Top Load Washer with adjustable water level options:

  • Cool rinse, spin
  • Warm to hot wash with detergent
  • Extra rinse
  • Line dry or tumble dry on medium to high heat. If line drying in very sunny climates remove diapers from direct sunlight after 10-15 minutes.

Front Load HE with variable-spin options

  • Cold rinse, no spin
  • Warm to hot wash with soap
  • Extra rinse
  • Line dry or tumble dry on medium to high heat. If line drying in very sunny climates remove diapers from direct sunlight after 10-15 minutes.

Front Load HE with no variable-spin options

  • Load diapers into washer, lay a large towel on top of diapers, pour water over towel until it is soaking wet. (This will trick the machine into thinking that there is a greater amount (weight) of laundry in the machine thus prompting the machine to use more water.)
  • Cold rinse, spin
  • Warm to hot wash with detergent
  • Extra rinse
  • Line-dry or tumble-dry on medium to high heat. If line drying in very sunny climates remove diapers from direct sunlight after 10-15 minutes.

Detergents, Drying & More


Choose a detergent with no fabric softener, no optical whiteners or brighteners, no enzymes. Do not use chlorine bleach. Do not assume that your detergent is suitable because it has “free and clear” in the title. We highly recommend Allen’s Naturally and Rockin’ Green Detergents. Both are Cloth Diaper safe and work wonderfully with all water types.

Water Level:

The washing machine should appear only half full of diapers, yet water level should be set to ‘full’. This ensures there will be enough water to allow diapers to agitate and move freely within the washing machine’s tub.


It is extremely important that all the detergent is rinsed out of the diapers. Failure to rinse well can cause your diapers to perform poorly, retain odor, and in worst case scenarios, irritate your baby’s bottom. While you get used to caring for your diapers, look in your washer on the final rinse. If there are any suds, rinse again. And again if necessary. If you are rinsing more than 2-3 times, you are using too much detergent. When your diapers come out of the washer, they should smell like water. If they smell unclean, then use a bit more detergent. If they smell like your detergent, use less detergent and rinse more.


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.

Laundry softening agents:

whether it's liquid fabric softener or dryer sheets, must never be added to cloth diaper laundry. Fabric softeners can coat diapers and inhibit them from getting fully clean. It can also cause irritation to your baby, and it may inhibit absorbency. To naturally soften your cloth diapers, add Wool Dryer Balls to your laundry.

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

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.

Stained Diapers:

Natural fiber diapers, as opposed to synthetic fiber diapers, are more prone to staining. Babies who are not EBF are also more prone to stained diapers. To treat diaper staining, use our Buncha Farmer’s Stain Stick. To help prevent stains from appearing, you can line dry your diapers outside. Be cautious when line drying though; if you leave your diapers outside for extended periods of time, the sun may damage your diapers and disintegrate your diaper fibers. Keep your outside drying time limited. Also, just like any other article of clothing, if you rinse your diaper with cold water as soon as possible, you can help avoid staining. Try using our Diaper Sprayer to aide you in removing solid waste.

How to "Strip" your diapers

Diapers occasionally accumulate soapy build-up. This residue ‘holds on’ to the ammonia molecules in baby’s urine and creates a rather powerful smell as well as inhibiting absorption. If your diapers seem to retain odor and/or are not absorbing as well as they had been, it may be time to ‘strip’. After a period of time, regardless of how conscientious your laundering routine in terms of cloth diaper friendly soap and extra rinsing etc., there will eventually be a build up of soap residue.


You must use a recognized ‘ammonia buster’ such as RLR or Funk Rock. DO NOT use vinegar, baking soda, dishwashing soap or any of the other crazy suggestions you find online!

    1. Soak clean diapers in very hot water between 125° - 135° with RLR or Funk Rock for at least 4 hours (or overnight if preferred).
    2. If you do not have a top load washing machine, diapers may have to be soaked in a tub or utility sink.
    3. Water must be over 125° and not more than 135°. Less than 125° will not allow the ammonia buster to penetrate the fabric properly and more than 135° may destroy your diapers.
    4. Diapers must soak for at least 4 hours.
    5. After soaking, set machine for hot water and wash 4 times WITHOUT SOAP to ensure that the entire amount of ammonia-busting agent used has been rinsed out of the diapers. If there are still bubbles being produced after the fourth wash, continue washing (without soap) until no bubbles are present.

Note: A ‘barn-yard’ smell as opposed to an ammonia smell indicates too little soap used in washings. Simply add slightly more soap to you diaper laundering routine.

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.