How to hand wash cloth diapers

4 Nov

Hand Washing cloth diapers is not a New Concept at all. In fact, back in the days when there were no washing machines, cloth diapering moms would hand washed their baby’s cloth diapers. I remember my mom soaking and hand washing my sister’s diapers. Still, I wouldn’t have thought I would be hand washing cloth diapers because we have a washing machine.

The very first time I hand washed my daughter’s diapers we were away on vacation. Why would I want to hand wash while on vacation…after all I should be relaxing. Well, I had brought along hybrid diapers but found that I preferred to use my prefolds and AIO at nights instead of the hybrids. Since I only had about 4 diapers, it made more sense to toss them in a bucket than in a machine.

The second time I had to hand it was not by choice but out of necessity. You see last week’s storm, Alfred, left us without power for a week so I jolly well had to roll up my sleeves and get washing. Many people today still choose to hand wash their baby’s cloth diapers. If you are not one of those people, it is still good to know how to as you never know when you might need to. By the way, hand washing diapers is not as hard as it sounds.

Lets get to how to wash cloth diapers by hand

    You can either use a wash bucket or the bath tub. A wash basin/bucket is ideal for a few diapers and the bath tub for a big load.
    Fill bucket or tub with cold water and add diapers. Swish the diapers around to give them a quick rinse. If the diapers are really soiled, you can let them soak for a minutes or overnight. Drain the tub and you are ready to wash the diapers.
    Add hot/warm water to the tub/ bucket, detergent and diapers. Scrub the diapers by rubbing or moving the diapers back and forth between your hands. Some moms have reported that they use a plunger to agitate the diapers….for me I like to use my hands. By the way, feel free to wear gloves.

Drain the tub and add water to rinse the diapers out. Wring out the excess water and hang dry on a drying rack etc.

Are there any benefits to hand washing cloth diapers?

    Yes, hand washing Gets rid of diaper stains better than the washing machine wash. With hand washing you can really focus on areas that need ‘ extra attention’.
    Hand washing is gentler than machine washing so hand washing may extend the life of your diapers.

8 Responses to “How to hand wash cloth diapers”

  1. Kendra January 5, 2012 at 6:41 pm #

    Thank you for this post! I have been do searching for a hands washing routine, and yours has been the best I’ve found!

    I am starting a bit late in the CDing game (son just turned 16 months) and only have access to our condos coin-op laundry. At $3 total to wash and dry, a few times a week, it would end up costing the same or more than our 7th Gen. sposies, defeating the economical part of choosing cloth.

    So I bought a Breathing Mobile Washer, and am going to try to hand wash when I can. I’m using prefolds and flats, mostly, along with PUL covers, so drying won’t be too bad. I also figured I can wash at home, line dry the covers, and machine dry my flats/prefolds at times, too.

    Thank you for showing that hand washing is possible and not very difficult! Happy New Year!

    • naturalpureessentials January 5, 2012 at 7:21 pm #

      Glad I could help! Flats and prefolds the easiest to hand wash. Happy New Year to you too.

      • rita April 22, 2012 at 7:19 pm #

        i have a question, is it best to wash daily? if not do u soak the diapers until u wash them or do u just leave them as is?

        • naturalpureessentials April 22, 2012 at 10:48 pm #

          Hi Rita,
          I would wash daily if you have a newborn or an infant just so you keep the load at a manageable size. For older babies who use less diapers, 2 days should be fine.
          I wouldn’t soak for more than a couple to a few hours before washing just because stagnant water gets smelly quite easily and is dangerous when you a small one around. Some people though choose to soak overnight. Also if you are using cotton diapers, soaking too long can wear out the cotton faster.

  2. S July 1, 2012 at 1:45 am #

    Hi, great post! Quick question! If I have a standard sized bucket, how much detergent should I use? Also, what about covers? I have PUL covers from Bummis and they say that soaking is bad for covers. I have been resorting to disposables more often than I’d like because washing in the machine is a long process because our machine needs to be babysat. Would love to wash up quickly every night before bed.

    • naturalpureessentials July 1, 2012 at 11:44 pm #

      It all depends on the detergent you are using. I would try about 1 teaspoon of soap and see how well that cleans the diapers. You can always adjust the amount… If they are not getting clean enough try a 1/2 teaspoon more or if the water gets too much sud, then use less than a teaspoon. The diaper covers can be added to the wash just before washing. If they are heavily soiled, a quick 5-10 min soak will do.
      The key to hand washing is small loads makes it more manageable. Hope this help.

  3. Alma Estrada October 11, 2012 at 6:05 pm #

    Glad I ran into this :-). i always wondered what one would wash their diapers in. I’m new to cloth diapering. i have a 2yr old girl and pregnant with #2. and i am seriously considering cloth for #2 for environmental and money reasons :-). my 2yr old has no interest in potty training AT ALL! ha but she just turned 2 a couple weeks ago.. i also have a question. what is the best detergent to use when cleaning cloth diapers? i just bought the prefolds (Gerber) and i also have some flats my grandma gave me a couple year ago. Thanks! -ALMA 🙂

    • naturalpureessentials October 11, 2012 at 7:14 pm #

      Hi Alma,
      Glad to hear you are considering cloth diapering. You want to stay away from soaps with dye, perfumes, enzymes and bleach or brighteners. These things can affect the diaper’s absorbency as they lay a film on top of the diaper. I personally liked rockin green natural laundry soap but tide will work as well. Hope this helps

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