Hand washing cloth diapers is easy especially when using simple diapers like flats and prefolds.   I recommend washing every day.  It only takes a few minutes and is less daunting than washing several days’ worth of diapers at a time.

Simple steps to hand wash cloth diapers:

  1. Pre-rinse the diaper with warm water
  2. Use a small amount of detergent and agitate the diaper in hot water.
  3. Rinse well and wring out excess water.
  4. Hang to dry.

Pre-rinse the diaper.

Dunk the soiled part of the diaper into the toilet to remove solids.  Any residual can be rinsed in the sink or bathtub and washed down the drain.  Store wet diapers in the sink, a small plastic bin, or a wetbag.  Soaking dirty flats or prefolds (in a safe area) between washings will help get them clean.

Use a small amount of detergent and agitate the diaper.

If desired, use rubber gloves to protect your hands while scrubbing.  Fill the sink, bathtub, or a bucket with hot water and a clean-rinsing detergent.  Be cognizant of the amount of detergent used as a sink will have much less water than a washing machine.  Massage the fabric with your hands and rub the fabric together.  It takes about 5 minutes to wash just a few diapers at a time.

Rinse well and ring out excess water.

Drain the water and rinse each diaper.  Twist each diaper to wring the water out while removing as much water as possible as this will shorten drying time.

Hang to dry.

Hanging diapers outside is an efficient way to dry; however, flats and prefolds also dry quickly hanging inside.  Hang them over the shower curtain rod, a drying rack, or the back of a chair.

You should be able to see and smell that your diapers are getting clean.  If you are concerned about bacteria residue in the diapers, you can iron flats and prefolds.  The heat will kill any bacteria that could be present.

In my experience, there is a satisfaction that comes with personally washing your baby’s diapers.  It’s just one more thing I can do for my baby, and I love to hang clothes outside.  It brings me a sense of peace that I do not find in other everyday chores.  I hope you will also find joy in the simplicity of hand washing your cloth diapers.

- Elizabeth Pilgrim, Oklahoma Real Diaper Circle Leader

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