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My Cloth Diaper Wash Routine: I am switching to Tide!!!

by julie on January 18, 2013


This post is part of the weekly Cloth Diaper 101 Blog Hop hosted by My Cloth Diaper Stash. This weeks topic is about….or something to that effect.

Jan 4  How and Why I started Cloth Diapering
Jan 11 – My Favorite Cloth Diaper (s) and Why?
Jan 18 – My Cloth Diaper Wash Routine
Jan 25 – Converting a Friend to Cloth (how, why, your experiences, goals, tips, etc)

Here I am about 1 year into cloth diapering and I have decided to turn to the dark side! I am no longer going to use my “cloth diaper safe” detergent…well I will use up what I have and then make the switch to the Original Tide! 

So how did I get here?

Rewind a few months ago…I went to go see my Stash Sister, who you can read all about –> HERE. Instead of bring my detergent with me because I didn’t want to get caught in airport security for having possession of a mysterious “white powder,” I decided to buy some detergent while I was visiting. The only detergent I found that I had heard people used before on their cloth diapers was the Original Tide in Powder form. I figured I would give it a try.

I LOVED the results! It seemed to get my diapers very clean and they even smelled great! From then on I was hooked!

Tide Pic

Let’s get to the specifics of my Wash Routine

For me, my wash routine starts with the FIRST DIRTY DIAPER! Here is a step by step list of what I do:

  1. Dirty diaper gets sprayed down (if poop) and put into a dry pail with a pail liner.
  2. After about 2-3 days worth of dirty diapers (SEE BELOW), I play Santa Clause and head down to the laundry room.
  3. ***ADD IN STEP*** Rinse Cloth Diapers by hand in cold water.
  4. Add cloth diapers to washer and do a COLD RINSE with NO DETERGENT.
  5. After 1st Rinse, Run a HOT WASH with DETERGENT.
  6. Follow this up with a HOT or WARM RINSE.

Drying Tips

  • In Cold/Rainy Weather – hang dry covers and pockets and throw the inserts into my dryer on low with some dryer balls
  • In Spring/Summer – hang everything out in the sun 
  • Sunning helps with the stains!

Factors Affecting the Number of Times You Wash per Week

  • The number of babies you have in cloth diapers
  • The number of diapers in your stash (Tips for Increasing Your Stash)
  • The access to a washer/dryer or way to wash your cloth diapers
  • The stage of your baby (newborn vs. toddler)


At about 1 year old, my son’s urine seemed to become stronger and I had a hard time getting the ammonia stink out. I decided to do a little rinsing of my own to see if it helped with the smell. After a few washes, it seemed to do the trick! I rinse the diapers until they run mostly clear, I know this may be overkill, but I don’t want to test the water if you know what I mean!


That is pretty much it! I am blessed to have a great wash routine that has needed very little tweaking. I know that “the wash routine” for many can be the biggest challenge with cloth diapers! Some people have a hard time with hard water, detergent types, or even stripping methods. Tide will not work for everyone. Some babies experience rashes from Tide because it does have additives it. If you are worried about sensitivities please do you research as to which detergent might be the best brand for your family. I am by no means promoting that everyone use Tide, it is what works for me and I am pleased with the results!


If you need more help with developing your own wash routine, go HERE for a list of articles!

What does your Cloth Diaper Wash Routine look like?

Do you have any problems with your Wash Routine?

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{ 32 comments… read them below or add one }

Mommy Belle January 18, 2013 at 6:33 am

Tide is one of the best brands our country has. But I am not using it :-) it’s quite expensive compared to the non brand I am used to. But oh, I realized it is costly on my part because I am washing my baby’s diapers when it’s already 3 pcs.


Michelle F. January 18, 2013 at 7:20 am

I use Tide also! It’s the only detergent that I’ve really loved and had no issues with.


Keara B. January 18, 2013 at 3:25 pm

I love Tide! It’s the only detergent I’ve tried that hasn’t caused repelling, rashes, or stink problems. Wish it was a bit more eco-friendly, but I figure I’m doing my part by not using ‘sposies. :)


Regan January 18, 2013 at 5:10 pm

Love my Tide! I probably never would have switched if he didn’t move to a hard water area but I’ll never go back now


Regan January 18, 2013 at 5:11 pm

*we, not he. We all moved ;)


Martine S. January 18, 2013 at 10:52 pm

I am switching to Tide as well! Just waiting to run out of the other first.


Lillian January 19, 2013 at 9:52 pm

I use Tide original liquid and I have had no problems so far. My routine is similar – I wash cold with a 2nd rinse with detergent and then wash in hot with detergent. Most of the diapers I hang to dry except for inserts unless I need to sun them. I sun them in my laundry room with the blinds open for the sun to get to them and it works great. I also have an HE washer so I’m looking for any other tips, I’m wondering if doing the detergent with the cold wash is overkill. I wash everyday and I have a 2 month old. We just received the water bill which is $56!! So I hope it lessens. Here is my stash – 12 prefolds with 5 Thirsties covers, 5 Fuzzibunz (2 OS and 3 perfect size small), 2 Babykicks OS, 1 Oh Katy OS, and 1 Grovia OS. Any tips would be appreciated. Thanks!


julie January 19, 2013 at 9:58 pm

Are you looking for tips to lower your water bill? So in total you do 3 washes for each load of diapers? I don’t think you need detergent for 2 washes…if I am reading this right? I like doing my first wash/rinse with no detergent just to make sure you get rid of any urine in the diapers! Once you have the rinsed, you can then wash with detergent in hot. I rinse one more time after that just to be sure all the detergent it out. I supposed I could eliminate that last wash, but haven’t tried yet. You have a nice stash! If you could do laundry less (2-3x) per week, this would help with the water bill too. Maybe look at increasing your stash with a few more diapers if you can afford it…if not, try to enter some giveaways!


Lillian January 21, 2013 at 11:09 pm

Hi Julie,

Yes, it was about $30 each month before cloth diapering. I do 2 washes right now both with detergent. It seems to work okay but I suppose once my LO gets bigger the washes each week will lessen. I was thinking about adding more to my stash but my budget is tight. I will be looking for some giveaways for sure!



julie February 5, 2013 at 12:06 pm

There are a ton of giveaways right now! P.S. I won 20 diapers by entering giveaways! I couldn’t afford any so I entered giveaways in the beginning :-)


Tammy Malfatti February 5, 2013 at 9:40 am

What type of inserts do you use? Do inserts have to be dried on low? I was told LOW was because of the PUL. So if you’re not drying the covers, why use low? I need a wash routine my husband can do too and he’s very regimented. The girl we bought the FB fron have us a wash routine…that doeant work for our area. I tweak it, but he’s having a hard time. Thanks.


julie February 5, 2013 at 10:10 am

I mostly use microfiber, bamboo, and stay dry. Yes, you are correct about the PUL. You don’t want to dry things with PUL or TPU on too high heat because it could delaminate. I use low because even though a higher heat won’t necessairly damage the inserts, over time using higher heat will wear the inserts out quicker. I am just “over-protective” of my inserts and try to do low or air- dry when possible to help them last longer. Check out some of my wash posts here, you might find something helpful:

Most people I know do a cold rinse, Hot wash with detergent, and a rinse afterwards. It is all dependant on your type of water (hard, normal) and detergent you use. Sometimes it is trial and error until you develop a routine, but once it is set and works it is such a great feeling! A routine that works for someone else might not work for you. The routine above works great for me and I haven’t had to strip since switching!


Carrie February 5, 2013 at 9:41 am

I do a cold rinse (my top loader only does cold rinses), one hot wash with powder Tide, one extra rinse. Done! This has been my routine for about 5 years and I have only had to strip my diapers once.


julie February 5, 2013 at 12:06 pm

Yeah Tide!!!!


Linda February 5, 2013 at 9:43 am

We have recently started using Tide as well. Just wondering how much tide I should be using in my front loader? Please help me out!


Jessica Martinez February 5, 2013 at 11:27 am

Linda, I used 1 Tbsp and still had to rinse 4x!
I think this is a great argument for not using Tide for every wash and she talks about the need for major rinsing:


Jessica Martinez February 5, 2013 at 11:30 am

Oops. Sorry, Linda, ignore me. I have a water softener. You may not need to go crazy like me.


julie February 5, 2013 at 11:42 am

I used to use all “cloth diaper safe” detergents and they worked ok. I was forced to use Tide when I was traveling with my cloth diapers and I LOVED it! What works for me won’t work for everyone. I know that Tide does contain a lot of the “unsafe” brighteners and other ingredients, but so far, fingers crossed, I haven’t had to Strip and don’t even smell any ammonia which was my biggest problem before!


julie February 5, 2013 at 11:51 am

@Linda I will ask on my facebook fan page and see the responses I get :-) I know HE machines use less water which is not ideal for cloth diapers!


Jessica Martinez February 5, 2013 at 11:20 am

I think I finally figured out a routine after a month. We have a TL HE washer that does not fill with much water. Took a lot of tries and running in to peek during the rinse to see if there were suds still.
1) Rinse cold whether pee or poo, toss in diaper pail with lid open (or washer with lid open if it’s not normal laundry day)
2) On 3rd day, run inserts through a warm/cold wash cycle on “heavy soil”, no detergent, no apin
3) Run a hot/cold wash on Heavy Duty “heavy soil” and no spin with detergent (All Free&Clear, Small&Mighty Military liquid). Once a month I will use Tide Original HE powder, but not always because I had to do 4 rinses to get that out! But the smell was gone so I love it.
4) Run another warm/cold wash on heavy duty “medium soil” no detergent, high spin.
5) machine dry inserts
6) wash covers on warm/ cold with extra rinse, air dry.


Jessica Martinez February 5, 2013 at 11:29 am

I should mention we have a Culligan water softener, so that may be why I have had so many rinse problems :-/
We live in Texas, the hard water is ridiculous.


julie February 5, 2013 at 11:48 am

That is awesome! I don’t have much experience with HE, but I have been told that it does take adjusting because the washer wants to save water, but with washing diapers the more water the better!

I see, so you mostly wash with Free & Clear but also add in tide. Good idea. Hard water is hard because the additives in Tide will bind to the minerals in the water causing serious build up! We don’t really have hard water so I haven’t had a problem with build up yet! I hope you figured it out with the routine above!

Thought this was a good read too :-)


Stacey February 5, 2013 at 11:51 pm

I keep a 5 gallon bucket in the bathroom. After changing the diaper I rinse it out thoroughly and then place it in the bucket. I put a capful of laundry detergent in the bucket. I make my own detergent and have had a lot of success! I wash diapers each day but I don’t dry them. We live in a sunny environment so most days I can hang them on the clothesline. On non sunny days, I typically don’t wash diapers. We are only cloth diapering 75% of the time because we only have a small supply of diapers. Our main reason for cloth diapering is financial so I hate to use the dryer plus they seem cleaner when they line dry.


julie February 6, 2013 at 12:02 am

That is so awesome! It can be a lot of work to so diaper laundry every day but it can be done! What is in your home-made detergent?


Julia February 6, 2013 at 8:39 pm

I started with All Free & Clear, and now am using Tide Free & Gentle- never wanted to pay for the special CD detergents. I had no idea that anyone used a regular detergent- I have only read about the evils of the additives!

I do a short cold wash w/ detergent, a long hot wash w/ detergent, and an extra rinse on cold. This has been my wash routine for almost 2 years and I’ve never tried anything else. Sometimes the diapers don’t smell fresh after washing, and that’s frustrating! Maybe switching to regular Tide would help the smell? (I don’t have a sprayer either, and toddler pee/poo is gross.) Any advice, Jules?


julie February 6, 2013 at 8:55 pm

Yes, there is a lot about the evils of additives, but I kept have ammonia stink problems and my detergent wasn’t cutting it! I had read that a bunch of people were using Tide original powder on their diapers and I decided to use it when I went to visit my sister when traveling. I have had NO issues with smell since I started using it!

Your diapers may need to be stripped…have you ever stripped them before?? I used a little bit of bleach and dawn. and Stripping your cloth diapers gives you a good starting point. I might add that I also do a hand rinse until the diapers run clean lately because as babies get older their urine seems to be more potent. I find that the initial rinse in the washing machine doesn’t work as well. Between this and Tide, I have noticed a HUGE difference in my diapers! I will e-mail you some more tips :-)


Stacey February 6, 2013 at 11:37 pm

I got the detergent “recipe” online. You can do a search and should find it. I don’t know what the rules are for posting here but the recipe I found came from a famous family with lots and lots of kids. Don’t want to post the site in case that is against the rules but maybe the hint will help! It’s basically a combo of Super Washing Soda, Borax, and Fels Naptha. We like the smell of laundry detergent and didn’t like the results from essential oils so now I add a container of store bought laundry detergent to the mix. The hubby prefers the smell of Gain but I am too cheap and use Purex. One batch makes 10 gallons of laundry detergent. We have a family of 6 (almost 7) so we do a lot of laundry. To assuage the Gain preference we use Gain fabric softener sheets for our regular laundry. I don’t use softener on our diapers, towels, etc. Hope this helps. I am new to the cloth diapering but very happy with the process. I don’t plan on cloth diapering for our newborn due in 4wks until she is a little older but maybe I’ll change my mind once she arrives.


Stacey February 6, 2013 at 11:39 pm

I have a question about bleach. The cloth diapers I use that are the fancy kind all say no bleach. However, sometimes they just need what the bleach provides so I use a small amount. Do you know why they call for no bleach? Is it because of color fading of the cute diapers or will it eventually cause problems with the diaper absorption?


Holly Pangrcic August 1, 2013 at 5:34 pm

I am trying to get past the whole…more laundry…concept. Is it really worth it??


Kristin August 27, 2013 at 8:49 pm

Might be a silly question but I’m just starting out – when you say you do your own rinse, is that with a sprayer or how do you do it?


julie August 28, 2013 at 1:10 pm

Well, this has progressed as my son has gotten older. When I say I do my own rinse, I hand rinse the diapers to get some of the ammonia smell out. I use the sprayer for any poopy diapers only. After all of the diapers have been hand rinsed, I run a cold rinse in the washing machine, hot wash with detergent, and then another cold rinse after. Does that make sense? The wash routine is the trickiest part to using cloth diapers, but once you have a good routine, it makes everything a breeze!


Tyler July 26, 2014 at 11:49 pm

Glad to see a blog promote Tide! Or at least a mainstream detergent with proper cleaning agents to get the cloth dipes clean!


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