Cloth Diaper FAQ – Using Cloth Diapers

Post may contain affiliate links.

Do I need to “prep” my new cloth diapers? If so, how do you “prep” cloth diapers?

Yes, you will want to “prep” your new cloth diapers. The purpose of prepping diapers is to maximize the absorbency of the inserts and to remove any chemicals or oils on the diapers. Without prepping you could be putting chemicals near your precious baby’s skin and you may be more likely to experience leaks because of the natural oils on some materials.

Prepping new diapers simply means requires the washer and dryer a few times. Each diaper manufacturer has their own instructions for prepping diapers so be sure to check what they suggest. However, basically, you will want to wash your new cloth diapers 4 to 5 times. I suggest doing half of these with cold water and half with hot water and soap.

Please see my post about my personal diaper prepping routine.

How do you store soiled diapers?

I store my soiled diapers in a hanging diaper bag. Several brands have diaper bag options but I use Large Hanging Wet Dry Bag for Baby Cloth Diapers by Planet Wise.  (See it here) This bag has PUL waterproofing on the inside and has awesome little handles so that it can be easily placed on a doorknob. Soiled diapers simply get tossed into the top opening. When I am ready to wash my diapers, I simply unzip the zipper on the bottom of the bag and all the diapers tumble into the washer without me having to ever touch them.

I have heard that some people store their soiled diapers in a diaper pail filled with water. I personally would not want to use this method because I would worry about extra bacteria growing in the stagnant water or even spilling the water.

I will also note, if you are using pocket diapers, you will want to consider separating the inserts before putting them into the laundry bag so that they will be ready for washing. This is obviously not necessary with all-in-one diapers because they are designed to be washed as one piece.

What do you do with the, ahem, poop?

I know many people, when beginning cloth diapering, worry about what to do with the poop on the diapers. First, I will tell you that removing the soiling is not as bad as it sounds. However, this is definitely not a step you should skip because it is important to remove the poop from the diapers before washing.

The simplest way to remove the poop is to buy a diaper sprayer. Before I had my diaper sprayer, I used to use some rolled up tissue to scrape off the soiling. I have also been told that you could use an old spatula. In my opinion, a diaper sprayer is worth the small investment!

Please see my post about my diaper sprayer.

How often should I clean cloth diapers?

Diaper manufactures suggest cleaning cloth diapers every 1 to 3 days. In my personal experience, the best interval of time is every other day. When I only had a few diapers and I was cleaning my diapers every day, it was just too much! If I try to let my diapers go for three days before washing, my laundry room begins to smell a bit ripe. So, I have struck the happy medium of every other day.

How do you clean cloth diapers?

Cleaning your cloth diapers is simple. First, you will want to run a cold cycle with a cold rinse to remove any soiling left on the diapers. Next, you will want to run a hot cycle with detergent followed by a cold rinse. Most washers should automatically have a rinse cycle after each washing cycle. For a full load of diapers, you will definitely want to run a large cycle because the more water the better clean the diapers will get.

Once the washer has done its job, you will want to put the inserts into the dryer on high heat for about an hour. When this cycle is completed, you can add any covers which can be dried to the dryer on low heat for approximately 45 minutes. Some covers should not be dried but rather should be line dried.

Just a quick note; this is my personal cleaning routine, which has worked well for me. I would suggest checking with the diaper manufacturer for their suggestions as well.

Please see my post for information about using a front loader versus a top loader.

What type of detergent should I use?

Because build-up on diapers will cause repelling and leaks, it is important that you use a cloth diaper approved detergent. In general, cloth diaper approved detergents are those which are free from perfumes, dyes, enzymes, fabric softeners, brighteners, bleach, or essential oils. Each diaper manufacturer has their own recommendations so check with the manufacturer before using a specific detergent.

You will want to be sure to use the correct amount of detergent as well. Too much detergent can cause a build-up and more leaks. For detergents specifically made for cloth diapers follow the instructions on the box. For detergents purchased from the store, use ½ to ¼ of the recommended amount. One way to check that you are not using too much detergent is to open the washer during its final rinse. If you see soap suds, you are using too much detergent. For a better understanding try reading any one of these articles:

What does it mean to “strip” diapers?

“Stripping” diapers is a process whereby the invisible materials that tend to build up on the surface of the cloth diaper are removed. There are several theories about how to best strip cloth diapers. However, my preferred method for stripping my diapers is to use the dishwasher detergent Dawn.

My process for stripping my diapers is to first I run my diapers through a cold cycle. After the cold cycle has completed, I set my washer to run a hot cycle and allow the washer to fill with water. Once the washer is full, I add a couple of skirts of Dawn and let the washer agitate for about a minute. Then, I open the washer lid and leave the diapers to soak in the washer in the hot water for a half hour to one hour. After soaking the diapers, I run the rest of the cycle normally.

Please see my post about stripping diapers (Tip #6). 

NOTE: The tip on “stripping” was written in my infancy of learning how to cloth diaper. Over the years I have learned a lot and here is a more realistic view on stripping cloth diapers.

Can I use cloth diapers at daycare?

The best answer I can give you is maybe. From what I have heard some daycare centers are willing to allow you to bring in your cloth diapers for your child and others are not. When I worked at a daycare in high school we had one little girl who used cloth and it was not an issue. But alas, it will be up to your individual daycare center to make that determination.


What do you do with dirty diapers when you are out of the house?

The best way to deal with dirty cloth diapers when you are out of the house is to purchase a wet bag.  A wet bag is a small storage bag with waterproofing on the inside which can store wet and soiled diapers while on the go.

When you are out of the house, simply tuck the wet or soiled diaper into the wet bag. When you return home, you can remove soiling with your diaper sprayer, separate inserts (if necessary), and finally move the diapers to your regular dirty diaper pail/laundry bag.

Can you travel with cloth diapers?

I personally have not yet had the opportunity to travel with cloth diapers. I have a couple of trips planned this summer and I am anxious to try it out.

However, many people have already tried it and said it can be done. If you are traveling with cloth diapers, be sure to make sure you have packed enough diapers to last and check to be sure there are adequate washing facilities if you are going to be gone a long time. I will try to update these meager tips as I happen upon new ideas.

Can you use cloth diapers right after birth?

Yes, you can use cloth diapers right after birth. You will want to be sure to check with the hospital about their policy but there is no logistical reason why this would not work.

I was not able to use cloth diapers from the beginning with my little one for several reasons but I have heard that depending on the size of your baby, you may need to consider buying newborn diapers. If you have a small baby, they very well may be too small for the one-size diapers.

Should I be using cloth wipes?

If you are just beginning with cloth diapers, my suggestion is to use disposable wipes until you get the hang of cloth diapering. Once you get into the routine of the diapers, you can consider adding cloth wipes. I have been using cloth diapers for about 6 months and I just now purchased cloth wipes. However, if you are a brave mama, go ahead and jump right on in with cloth diapers and wipes at the same time.

If you take advantage of an offer on our site, may earn a small commission on purchases made through those links - at no additional cost to you. Full Affiliate information can be found here.

Cloth Diaper Tales
Login/Register access is temporary disabled