Congratulations! You’ve decided to try cloth diapering. You’ve made your first purchase but now what? Should you wash your diapers before putting them on your baby or are the ready to use?
Most manufacturers include washing and prepping directions with their packaging or on the inside of the tags so be sure to read their recommendations first. Each brand may vary slightly in their recommendations.
Why should you prep your diapers? 1) To remove any residual debris, dust, chemicals that might be on your diapers from manufacturing and shipping, and 2) for the diaper to become fully absorbent. Some fabrics actually become more absorbent the more times they are washed. This is typically true with natural fibers (like cotton, hemp, and bamboo).
For natural fibers (or diapers made of primarily natural fibers such as hemp, bamboo, and organic cotton) you’ll want to wash these diapers 3-6 times before putting them on your baby. You will want to prep your natural fibers separatly from your microfiber (or other synthetic materials) diapers since natural fibers typically contain natural oils that can cause residue to build up on your microfiber diapers causing them to be less absorbent. Sound confusing? You’ll only need to do this the first wash/prep cycle (those 3-6 washes). You don’t need to use detergent to prep your diapers but you can. There really aren’t steadfast rules involved since each brand varies slightly in their recommendations. Just remember “natural fibers prep separatly and wash multiple times before using.”
For Microfiber (or other synthetic materials) you’ll only need to wash these diapers 1 time before putting them on your baby. Microfiber doesn’t become any more absorbent after it is washed multiple times and prepping is primarily to remove any residue from shipping. Again, you don’t need to use detergent to prep your diapers but you can. Review your manufacturers directions to be on the safe side.
Notes from a real mom: I have washed my natural fibers 1-2 times and they’ve worked OK for daytime but I can be impatient when fluffy mail arrives. For more short cuts read the follow up to this article: Tips for a Prepping Cheater.
Side note: Natural fibers tend to be heavier and some manufacturers actually recommend washing separate from synthetic materials for ALL your wash cycles as they may wear out or prematurely age the rest of your diapers. I’ve never been too concerned over this but it is something you should know before you get started.
The better you care for your diapers, the longer they will last.
What about detergents? What type of detergent should I use? DiaperShops.com and Kelly’s Closet sells a wide variety of cloth diaper approved laundry detergents including Rockin’ Green, Ruby Moon, Thirsties, Tiny Bubbles, and bumGenius detergents. Other detergents available at most retail locations include Country Save, Charlies, and Allen’s Naturally. This list is not all inclusive and everyone has different wash requirements and needs. AVOID: Most manufacturers recommend that you avoid the following; free & clear detergents, baby detergents, and detergents with fabric softeners, whiteners, brighteners, enzymes, fragrances, and/or bleach. These ingredients can lead to residue build up and lead to leaking and premature aging of your diapers. Always refer to the manufacturers recommendations first.
For additional washing instructions you can refer to our simplified washing tips that we include with most orders. (Last updated 2011) We are also available to answer specific laundry related questions on our Facebook fan page, Twitter, and via email or phone.
Disclaimer: Kelly’s Closet, Inc and DiaperShops.com cannot be held liable for any loss or damage arising directly or indirectly from the use of the information provided. This is for informational and reference purposes only and every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of the information provided.