Washing Cloth Diapers

Bummis Simple Cloth Diaper Wash Routine


You don’t need to be intimidated by washing cloth diapers. It’s really quite simple!  Whether you’ve got a high efficiency (HE) front loader, an HE top loader, or an old school top loader with a central agitator, there will be just three simple steps to an effective wash routine.

Step One:
Run a short wash cycle in cold water with detergent.

 Step Two:

Run a long/heavy duty wash cycle in hot water with detergent.

 Step Three:

No extra rinses, just dry your diapers.


There are a few things to keep in mind when washing cloth diapers.


Remove solid waste from the diapers. Bummis Bio-Soft Liners make this easy. If your baby is exclusively breastfed, poop does not need to be removed from the diaper before washing as exclusively breastfed poop is water soluble.


Do two wash cycles. Though some machines may have a prewash option, it’s best to use two separate wash cycles. The first cycle is to wash away a good amount of the pee and poop from the diapers. This means you’ll be washing in much cleaner water for the long hot wash, and that will make it easier for the detergent to do its job where it really counts.


Use enough detergent. You want to use the amount recommended for a normal sized load in the short cold cycle, and the amount recommended for a heavily soiled load in the long hot cycle. If you’d like to use a “free and clear” or a plant based detergent, you’ll use 1.5-2x the recommended amount of detergent.


Achieve proper agitation. The way you ensure proper agitation depends on the type of washing machine you have. For HE machines, the drum should be 2/3 to 3/4 full for the long hot wash cycle (it can be less for the short cold cycle). After the short cold cycle, fluff the diapers up in the drum so they aren’t stuck to the sides. If the drum is not 2/3-3/4 full, simply add other small laundry items that need washing (baby clothes, toddler clothes, underwear, face or hand towels). Do not add bath sized towels or wet towels. For old school top load machines, you want “diaper stew”. That is achieved by selecting the load size that gives you 2-3” of water above the diapers when you press down gently. Another way to check for stew is to watch the diapers during agitation. You want to see the diapers being pulled in and down by the agitator.


Skip the extra rinses. Not only are extra rinses unnecessary, but they redeposit minerals from the water back into the diapers.


Drying Cloth Diapers


Cloth diapers can be hung out to dry on a clothes line or drying rack, or they can be dried in the dryer. When using the dryer, dry diapers on low heat. Turn Bummis All-In-One diapers inside out before drying to speed up the drying time. 


Water Hardness


When it comes to washing cloth diapers, it’s a good idea to know how hard your water is. A good place to start is to check your city or town’s website for the average water hardness in your area. You can also test your water at home using water test strips that detect total hardness. These strips are available at home/hardware stores in the pool care section.


If your water is above 60 ppm for total hardness, you may need to add a water softener. You can use Borax or Calgon to soften your water. When needed, it is added directly to the drum.




Calgon Powder

Calgon Liquid

60 ppm - 120 ppm

short cycle: none
long cycle: 1/2 cup

short cycle: none
long cycle:1/2 cup

short cycle: none
long cycle: 1/2 capful

120 - 250 ppm

short cycle: 1/4 cup
long cycle : 1/2 cup

short cycle: 1/4 cup
long cycle: 1/2 cup

short cycle: 1/2 capful
long cycle: 1 capful

250 ppm +

short cycle: 1/2 cup
long cycle: 1/2 cup

short cycle: 1/2 cup
long cycle: 1/2 cup

short cycle: 1 capful
long cycle: 1 capful



Choosing a Detergent


Finding a detergent that is safe to use on your cloth diapers could be as easy as grabbing whatever’s in your laundry room already! If it’s a mainstream detergent with no built in fabric softener, the odds are good it can work on your diapers.

Recommended Detergents:


Plant Based Detergents:

BUMMIS Hypoallergenic Laundry Detergent
Tide Purclean Honey Lavender or Unscented
Amway Legacy of Clean SA8 powder
Kirkland Environmentally Friendly
Seventh Generation Ultra Power Plus Fresh Citrus Scent or Free & Clear
Seventh Generation Natural 4x Concentrated Geranium Blossoms & Vanilla or Free & Clear

Mainstream Detergents:

Tide Original Powder (no water softener required until 180ppm)
Gain Liquid
Persil Pro-Clean Power-Liquid or Power-Pearls (no water softener required until 120ppm)
Sunlight Powder or Liquid
Arm & Hammer with Oxi Liquid

Unscented Detergents:
Tide Free & Gentle Powder (no water softener required until 100ppm)
Tide Free & Gentle Liquid
Kirkland Ultra Free & Clear

Things to avoid:

  • Fabric Softener. Fabric softener coats the fibres of diapers causing them to repel. Avoid detergents with built in fabric softener, and don’t use fabric softener on your diapers. Dryer sheets have the same effect and should also be avoided.


  • Unbuffered sodium metasilicate. When left unbuffered, sodium metasilicate can result in chemical burns to a child’s skin.


What To Do About Stains


Some staining is to be expected with cloth diapers. Natural fibres like cotton, hemp, and bamboo are more prone to staining than synthetic fibres like polyester, fleece, and suede cloth. Exclusively breastfed baby poop is particularly staining, even with an excellent wash routine. Stains do not mean your diapers aren’t getting clean. If you’d like to eliminate staining, placing the diapers in the sun (even through a window) when they are still damp from the wash works wonders. You can also add a scoop of Mini Kiwi Whitening Powder to the short cold wash cycle to help lift stains.