Care and use

Good Diaper Pail

We recommend a diaper pail with a flip-top lid to make it easy to open and close the pail with a dirty diaper in your hand and a safety hand on baby.

Odor Control

Remove Solid Waste. Shake excess waste into the toilet and use a diaper sprayer that attaches to your toilet to remove the rest. If you don’t have a sprayer you can use a flat edged scraper to remove the rest. We also recommend our OsoCozy Flushable Diaper Liners. With Flushable Diaper Liners you simply shake waste into the toilet along with the flushable liner. Safe for household plumbing.

Wash Frequently

Wash at least every 3 or 4 days.  Number of days between washes varies based on number of diapers you have.  18 is a recommended minimum.  Figure on 12 diapers changes a day for newborns and fewer as the baby matures.

Avoid Heat

Keep the diaper pail out of the sun and away from heat sources such as heater vents and radiators.

Deo Disks & Diaper Pail Deodorizers

Use diaper pail deodorizers such as Citrus Circles deo-disks, which contains natural, scented citrus oils, or Diaper Buddies, which deodorize diapers and add a laundry booster to your wash.

Easy Cloth Diaper Washing Routine

Once you work out your own cloth diaper washing routine, you will be the expert on your diapers in your washer and dryer. Start with this simple routine and adjust as necessary.

Wash Before First Use

All cloth diapers should be pre-washed before using so the diapers fluff up and achieve optimal softness and absorbency. White or bleached diapers require only one prewash. Natural or unbleached diapers require 3-5 pre-washes to make the diapers fully absorbent.

Simple Wash Method

  • Use a dry pail. No soaking! Shake the solid waste into the toilet before putting diaper into pail. Add scented deo disks to control odor and add a nice citrus scent.
  • Cover hook and loop before you put the diaper or diaper cover into the pail to prevent it catching and wearing on other diapers.
  • Never use fabric softeners or chlorine-based bleach. Chlorine bleach degrades fibers and can irritate delicate baby skin.  Softeners coat fabric fibers and diminish absorbency.
  • No More than 24 diapers in a single load. You can wash diapers, covers, wipes, and inserts together. NOTE: do not wash wool diaper covers with the diapers. See manufacturer washing instructions.
  • Start with a cold rinse to help prevent stains.
  • Next run a hot wash with soap or detergent. Most cloth diaper retailers sell soaps or detergents that have a proven track record of working well on cloth diapers.
  • Follow with a second run a hot wash without detergent or an additional cold rinse. You may want to periodically add 1/3 cup of baking soda to the second rinse to make sure you’re getting all of the detergent out of your diapers to prevent residue build up that leads to leaky diapers.
  • Hang diaper covers to dry to increase their lifespan.
  • Drying Dry fleece covers with diapers, wipes, and inserts on high heat. Save energy by line drying or air drying.
  • High heat or direct sunlight will sterilize cloth diapers if you find that necessary

Stripping Diapers

If you do choose to use soap rather than detergent and it leaves a residue on your diapers, the natural solution to break down the residue is vinegar rinse. This will help maintain diaper absorbency.

We recommend that you use no more than 1/2 cup of distilled white vinegar in the rinse cycle. Make sure it is distilled vinegar to avoid stains from vinegars with color.Vinegar may also be used in the rinse cycle to help neutralize the urine odor, equalize the pH balance, help prevent stains from setting in, and as a natural fabric softener.

NOTE: If you have hard water, vinegar may cause your diapers to smell bad once urinated on. In that case, we recommend you discontinue using soap and switch to detergent.

Adjust to Your Washing Machine

Clean diapers should smell of nothing – fresh, beautiful nothing. How do you make sure that happens? Sometimes you need to adjust your diaper washing routine to your washing machine.

Hot or Cold?

You can use cold water to wash cloth diapers. You don’t have to use hot water unless you are trying to sterilize your diapers. Even then, you can sterilize diapers naturally using the UV light from the sun.

Use Enough Detergent

You do need to be sure that you use enough detergent. For example, if you cut back according to instructions for a high efficiency washer (generally suggested to use 1/4 of the amount recommended for that detergent), you still need to be sure that you use enough detergent to clean your diapers. If you don’t use enough detergent, you may find that diapers smell a lot immediately after your baby wets them.

Don’t Use Too Much Detergent

Don’t adjust too far the other way. If you use too much detergent, detergent residue can build up on the fabric, keeping the diapers from absorbing properly. If the diapers repel urine, you have a leaky diaper. Just like Goldilocks, you need to get it not to much, not too little, but just right.

Second Rinse

If you find that you are getting detergent build up, you may need to add a second rinse cycle to your regular wash routine even if you don’t have a high-efficiency washer.

High Efficiency Washing Machine

A lot of families are opting for a high-efficiency washer to save on water. With a few minor adjustments, you will still be able to keep your cloth diapers clean and smelling fresh. Because the high-efficiency washers uses less water, you may want set water levels to highest settings. Or, rather than one long wash cycle you may find that two short cycles give you a cleaner rinse. If you don’t use the two short cycle method, you may need to add an extra rinse. Both high efficiency washing machines and particular types of cloth diapers can vary, so you may need to experiment to find the best wash routine for your machine and your diapers.  Because a high-efficiency machine spins so much water out of your diapers, you will find that they will dry more quickly, which will save you energy through the rest of your wash routine.

Soap or Detergent?

Soap for Cloth Diapers

Soap is a mild cleaning agent made from natural materials. The drawbacks of using soap to clean cloth diapers are that, because of its mild attributes, it may not thoroughly clean your diapers, and soap reacts with minerals in hard water that can leave a residue on the diapers causing them to be less absorbent.

Detergent for Cloth Diapers

Detergent is a synthetic cleaning product. Detergent has more cleaning power than natural soap, and it will clean cloth diapers thoroughly and should not leave a build-up on the diapers that takes away from their absorbency as long as you don’t use too much. You may want to look for detergents made from renewable resources rather than petro-chemicals. Many detergents are available with no dyes and natural fragrances.

NO Fabric Softener for Cloth Diapers

Do not use fabric softener on your cloth diapers because it coats the fabric fibers in the diapers, which reduces absorbency of the diapers.

Don’t Use Too Much

Especially if you have a high efficiency washing machine, don’t use too much soap or detergent on your cloth diapers. If you use too much, your washing machine will have a difficult time rinsing the diapers adequately, leaving a detergent build up that can result in leaking diapers.

Avoid Free and Clear

For best results with cloth diapers, avoid detergents that are marked Free & Clear, for baby, or detergents with oil surfactants.

5 Tips to Keep Your Diapers Bright and White


Use the free energy all around you to bleach your diapers naturally. UV (ultra violet) light can also be a powerful disinfectant, but it is unknown how effective sunlight is in disinfecting a porous material like cotton.

Lemon and Sunlight

If you are looking for a low-impact cloth diaper bleach, reach for a lemon. Saturate the stain with lemon juice then hang the diaper in the sun. If the stain is still visible once the diaper is dry, saturate with lemon juice and put out in the sunlight again.

It is easier to remove a stain if you don’t hot wash, which sets stains.

Don’t Sit Too Long

To avoid stains, don’t let a dirty diaper sit too long. Dump or spray solids into the toilet. Wash more frequently.

Enzyme Cleaners

Spray natural enzymes on soiled diapers. Natural enzymes do work similar to the enzymes in our gut. They break down organic matter. In the case of soiled diapers, if you apply the enzymes to a dirty diaper before dropping it in the diaper pail, this means the enzymes eat away at stains and odor while a diaper sits in the pail.

Some caution that their children are sensitive to laundry products with enzymes, but many have used spray-on enzyme cleaner on diapers with no problems at all.

Oxygen Bleach

Oxygen bleaches will not bleach colors. They are generally mild enough not to break down the fibers of your cloth diapers. Oxygen bleach is made by reacting molecules with hydrogen peroxide. Most oxygen bleaches work best in hot water.

Low-Energy Cloth Diaper Drying

Squeeze Tight

Before you move on to the drying phase, make sure that you have squeezed out as much of the wash water as possible.A high-efficiency washer does a great job spinning water out of diapers in the spin cycle.If your diapers still feel wet when you take them out of the washer, shake them out well before hanging or putting in the dryer.

Line Drying

The most energy efficient way to dry cloth diapers is to hang them outside in the sun and the breeze. Dependingly on your climate, this can also be quicker than using a clothes dryer.

If you find that your diapers are a bit stiff after being on the line, try rolling them around in your hands a bit. You could also toss them in the clothes dryer for a few minutes to let them agitate against one another and soften up.

Cool or Air Drying

If you live in a humid climate, it can take a long time to dry diapers on a line. With thick diapers like all in one diapers you might give up before the diapers feel completely dry.

If you want to use a clothes dryer but still save energy, try cool or air dry. Since you are not heating the air, you will use less energy.

Save Energy with Your Clothes Washer
An Energy Star-rated clothes washer can not only save on water but save on electricity. These savings in resources mean costs savings for you.

Folding Prefold and Flat Cloth Diapers

So now I know all about cleaning the diapers, how do I get them on my baby?

How to Fold Traditional Prefold Diapers (PDF)
How to Use Better Fit Prefold Diapers (PDF)
How to Fold Flat Diapers (PDF)