Tips for Cleaning Cloth Diapers

Cloth Diaper“Really?” Meaning – are you nuts – when you tell someone you wash cloth diapers by hand. Really, it’s not as horrible as many people imagine. We say, “Kudos to all moms who use cloth diapers and wash them by hand.”

Whether you are reducing your carbon footprint, being frugal or just prefer the softness of cloth diapers next to baby’s bottom, hand washing excels. So, if you shudder at the idea of disposable diapers, loaded with chemicals, such as dioxins that are dangerous to our health, filling up our landfills, you may be a candidate for handwashing.

For handwashing, The Breathing Mobile Washer is worth your (small) investment. Its push/pull method agitates dirty diapers and ultimately, gets them cleaner than its electric counterparts.


Wet diapers can just be tossed into the diaper pail. Soiled cloth diapers need attention before storing until washday. Shake the diaper over the toilet. Flush. If necessary, dunk it in the toilet. Tip: wear disposable gloves during this process and wash hands afterward.

Cloth Diaper Storage

The storage method is a personal preference. Wet storage entails filling the diaper pail with water and allowing dirties to soak. Moms who swear by this method say that pre-soaking loosens stubborn stains.

On washday, drain the dirty water into the toilet. The caveat is that storing dirty diapers in standing water will develop awful odors.

Alternatively, dry storage is easier as diapers are deposited in the diaper pail after pre-cleaning until you are ready to wash them.

Washing Cloth Diapers

To protect baby’s delicate skin, avoid fragrance enhanced laundry soap. Additives and chemicals shorten the life of clothdiapers and can promote rashes on baby’s bottom. Do not use chlorine bleach. Use less soap because you’ll use less water.

A 5-gallon bucket is the preferred vessel, although the bathtub or sink will suffice. Add enough hot water to fill about 1/3 of the bucket, sink, etc.

Put soiled diapers and laundry soap into bucket. Hand-agitate by pushing and pulling the mobile washer up and down. (Listen for the mobile washer’s signature breathing noise.)

If desired, let the diapers soak around 20 minutes and repeat the push-pull agitation. Wring water from each diaper. Pour water out of bucket.

Fill bucket to correct level with cold water. Agitate diapers again to rinse. Wring out the diapers and hang outside on clothesline (preferable) or inside on shower rods, etc.

Air drying diapers in the sun has a bleaching effect.

If diapers retain an ammonia scent after washing, add about one-fourth cup of baking soda to the rinse water. Baking soda is a natural odor remover and fabric softener. It’s gentler on baby’s diapers and clothing than commercial products containing chemicals.

And Now a Word About Safe Cloth Diaper Detergents

Because you’re a green-mama, you may prefer making your own laundry soap for cloth diapers. You can research your little heart out, resulting in total confusion. Or, you may borrow those we’ve found to be safe for cloth diapers and baby.

One popular homemade diaper detergent uses only four ingredients:

½ c. each – baking soda and washing soda – gently-powerful duo that helps eliminate stubborn stains on diapers

½ c. Oxygen Cleaner – heard about keeping whites whiter? Try this.

Epson Salt – for softening hard water and alleviating built-up minerals. Use from ½ c. to 1 c. depending upon hardness of water in your area.

Put all ingredients into container and mix together. Use about 1 Tbsp. per load of diapers.

If you prefer a commercial detergent, follow manufacturer’s instructions.

Final Words

Washing cloth diapers with the Breathing Mobile Washer fosters the satisfaction found by caring for your little one with love. And, seriously – it’s not all that difficult.