How to Wash Cloth Diapers by Hand

Are you using cloth diapers for your little one? Washing them by hand can be a bit daunting, but it can be a breeze with these guides on how to wash cloth diapers by hand! First, gather your supplies hot water, detergent, baby diaper wipes or old washcloths, and a place to hang the diapers to dry. Next, add the diapers to the wash water and agitate them gently.

How to Wash Cloth Diapers by Hand

Add the detergent and continue to agitate. Frain the wash water and rinse the diapers well in clean water. Once they are rinsed, wring out as much excess water as possible and hang them to dry. There you have it easy washing of cloth diapers by hand! Read on to know more information!

Seven Reasons You Want to Wash Cloth Diapers by Hand

1. Broken Washer or Dryer

If you have problems with your washer or dryer, washing cloth diapers by hand allows you to continue using cloth. Even if the problem is not with your machine but your drain line, washing diapers by hand can still save you hundreds of dollars.

2. Camping

Believe it or not, many campgrounds do not allow modern appliances such as washers and dryers. Hand washing cloth diapers allow you to take care of your baby even when far away from home.

3. Travel

Traveling with babies can be challenging, especially if they are still in diapers. For example, flying requires that all liquids be in 3.4 ounces or smaller bottles, and all the clothing must fit into a quart-sized ziplock bag. Washing cloth diapers by hand allows you to reduce your luggage and make traveling easier for yourself and your baby.

4. Diaper Emergency

Accidents happen, even if you use cloth! Diaper emergencies only require access to water and a small amount of laundry soap. These situations can be remedied by hand washing; simply rinse the diapers in the toilet, wash them with your hands or a washboard, spin out as much excess water as possible, put them into a dry pail, and you’re ready for a diaper change.

5. Lack of Laundry Facilities

Many people live in housing without a laundry facility. Hand washing cloth diapers allow you to care for your baby even if the only water source is a bathroom sink and you can’t afford quarters every time your baby needs a change.

6. Personal Preference

Some people prefer to hand wash their cloth diapers. There are many ways to do this, but they usually require the same supplies (water source, laundry soap of choice, diaper-friendly scrubber). In addition, handwashing allows you to control your water temperature, choosing the most comfortable setting for your baby’s sensitive skin.

Cloth Diapers Is Good for Baby's Sensitive Skin

7. Vacationing in a Hotel

Hand washing cloth diapers is the simplest way to wash your baby’s diapers when you’re on vacation. There are few things as frustrating as being unable to take care of your child, especially while you’re traveling for fun!

Step by Step Guide: How to Wash Cloth Diapers by Hand

Step 1: Pre-Wash

Before washing, you first want to prep the diapers and your washer. Prepping the diapers is easy: separate the soiled diapers from the rest of your diaper laundry. We wash our diapers every other day but separate them immediately if you have a particularly soiled load. If your wash routine consists of washing every day, you may not have to separate at all. Add a tablespoon of washing soda or borax if your diapers are dry. This helps soften the water before the wash cycle begins and ensures a thorough clean for your diapers.

Step 2: Wash Cycle

Fill up your washer with hot water. We have a top loader, so, you’ll want to separate your diapers by putting them in a wet bag or pail liner. Next, get your washer ready for the main wash cycle. Make sure there are no remaining items in the washer that could get caught up in the agitation of the diaper laundry (like leftover fuzzies from towels). If you have a washer, make sure the machine is filled to the proper line for your load.

Step 3: Detergent

Start the washer. If you have a front loader, start it once it’s filled to the proper line with water. For top loaders, tap the button and wait for your machine to begin. Now is your chance to add your detergent to your wash cycle! Your diapers will need a little bit of extra care in this step.

If your washer has a setting for HE, use this setting and add an extra rinse to make sure all of the detergents are gone from the diapers. All in ones and pocket diapers should be set to regular wash and heavy-duty cycle with 2-3 rinses in between to ensure detergent is all well and washed away. For all other cloth diapers, two rinses with no detergent are sufficient.

Step 4: Soaking

This step is not entirely necessary, but it does help your clean diapers come out cleaner. In a separate container, fill with hot water and add 1/4 cup laundry detergent or 1/2 cup baking soda. Let the diapers soak for about half an hour. You can use this time to take care of other things (like washing bottles or loading your dishwasher!)

Step 5: Agitation

Once that thirty minutes is up, pull out your diapers and drain the water. At this point, if you have any items in your washer (like towels), you can put them through another rinse cycle to remove excess soap. Now it’s time to start the agitation process! This step is simple: make sure you have enough water to cover the diapers in your machine.

Use Agitation to Remove Excess Soap

You’ll begin a regular cycle without detergent. If you have an HE washer, set it on heavy-duty and do a short wash cycle with no detergent. If you have a top loader, start it once enough water goes through the machine to cover the diapers. If you have a front loader, make sure there’s enough water to cover them and start it up!

Step 6: Rinse and Drying

This step is simple too! Just fill your washer back up with cold water and rinse until there are no suds left. You can do one more short cycle for an HE washer or one full cycle for any other type of washer. Just be sure to use cold water! Once the rinse is finished, dry however you’d like (on low heat with no-heat air fluff on high heat with standard heat or line dry).

This is just one method on how to wash cloth diapers by hand. There are several variations to washing. Do you have a different way of washing diapers? Let us know in the comments!

Why Will You Need To Hand-Wash Cloth Diapers?

If you have a top-loading washing machine, it will not accommodate cloth diapers. This is because cloth diaper laundry needs to be done in a circular motion, which regular machines cannot do. If you have a front-loading washing machine that is Energy Star rated, you may use them with cloth diapers as long as the machine can accommodate the size and weight of your cloth diapers.

However, emptying a front-loading machine is a more involved than an older top-loading machine. Front-loaders also tend to use much less water per cycle, and therefore if the environment is essential to you, you will probably choose a top loader. On the other hand, if convenience is more valuable to you than either the environment or money, then a front-loader may be your best bet.

How Long Are Disposable Diapers Good for?

It would help if you changed your child’s disposable diapers every 2-3 hours. The diapers start out fairly dry, but they get moist pretty quickly due to the amount of urine and bowel movements your child makes. The moistness is what allows the bacteria to grow quickly on disposable diapers. If you can’t change them fast enough, it will just collect up on the diapers, and you will have a smelly time ahead of you.

Bacteria Grow Quickly on Disposable Diapers

You should never keep your child’s disposable diapers for more than 2-3 hours without changing them. If you do, then the bacteria will start to grow and give your child a rash. The diaper itself also gets very moist without being changed often enough so it causes discomfort to your child as well. This is a severe health risk for your child because it can cause sores and other medical conditions to form on their skin from the fecal matter on disposable diapers.


Washing cloth diapers by hand is an excellent alternative to the expense and work of using a machine. This blog post will discuss how to wash cloth diapers by hand at home with some common household items without buying any special equipment or detergent. You first want to get out all the necessary supplies: dish soap, water in two containers, a soft scrub brush, nails clippers, paper towels/dish towels.

If desired, you can also use baking soda instead of laundry detergent; just add about one tablespoon per load, but this may not be as good an idea if you have hard well water that contains minerals that could interact with these ingredients. We hope this blog post on how to wash cloth diapers by hand has been helpful. If you have any questions or want to know more, then feel free to comment below!

Jennifer Branett
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