Cleaning Cloth Diapers in a Top Load Washer

Diapers in Washing MachineThe topic of washing cloth diapers has come up recently in one of the many cloth diaper groups to which I belong. Some moms have front loaders. Some moms have high efficiency washers. I personally have an older model top load washer. I also have a pretty good wash routine that keeps my diapers clean and fresh. Although the way that I clean my cloth diapers is different from the routines that a lot of other moms use, my method works great for me, my daughter, and my diapers.

When I first started cloth diapering, I did diaper laundry every day. Now that I have a pretty extensive stash of Best Bottom Diapers and a few other brands, I wash my diapers only every three days. Between washes, I keep the clean diapers in a basket and the dirty diapers in a wet bag in a garbage can with a lid.

On diaper laundry day, I begin by rinsing the dirty diapers in the washing machine. I use the cold rinse setting and fill the machine up full. I also add 1/2 tablespoon of Dreft to the rinse cycle. I also throw a few dirty towels into the washer to create a fuller load with better agitation.

After the rinse cycle is complete, I set my washer to the warm wash/cold rinse setting, keep the size on full, and use the heavy wash cycle. I also add 2 to 3 tablespoons of Classic Rock Rockin’ Green Laundry Detergent to the load. I use 2 if I have a smaller load and 3 for bigger loads. I then let the washing machine do its thing. If I have used Dawn on any of my diapers to strip away an errant diaper rash cream, I may add in an extra cold rinse cycle after the regular wash cycle, but, for the most part, I generally just do one rinse cycle followed by a regular wash cycle.

Once the wash cycle is complete, I throw all of the inserts into my dryer and hang up all of my Best Bottom shells and Flip covers. I let the shells and covers air dry to make the PUL and elastic last longer. Since I have a dehumidifier in my basement next to my laundry room, the covers dry in a few hours. I set my dryer to permanent press and put the timer on 90 minutes. By the end of the day, all my inserts and diapers are clean and dry.

What is your cloth diaper laundry routine?

Heather Johnson is a blogger and cloth diapering mama. To learn more about her and her cloth diaper addiction, check out The Parenting Patch.

Image Credits

Diapers in Washing Machine © 2013 Heather Johnson


  1. I have bookmarked this for very near future use. #3 is due in 16 days and will be our first cd baby so this will definitely help! Thanks for sharing!

  2. My sister would love this article as she is battleing the same issue. Thanks for sharing

  3. This is how we do ours too, but I do need to strip ours this week. Yay old top loaders!!

  4. Rachel n says:

    I have an older top loader. Your routine is similar to mine. I do a warm prewash with no soap, a hot wash with 1 scoop of Country Save, and a extra warm rinse. Works great for me:)

  5. Carissa Whaatt says:

    I’ll have to try this. I’m moving and will finally have a washer and dryer (can’t have one where I live now) My son is 11 months tomorrow and I’ve been washing by hand since I’ve started Cloth Diapering. I usually run out of Diapers because they take a eternity to dry as I can’t put them outside either!

    I’m kind of nervous to start to use a washing machine as I have never been able to with them so far!

  6. Tracy Adler says:

    We have top loading machines as well and since I have yet to have our first, I can’t say what our routine will be as of yet. I read many blogs about washing routines, and pick and choose different things that sound like they will work for us when the time comes. This is another set of I structions that I will add to my compilation, lol. Thanks!

  7. Carrie Barron says:

    Thanks for sharing this. I’m currently pregnant with my first and plan to cloth diaper. I’ve been doing my research in preparation.

  8. Thanks for sharing! This is frequently a big topic of conversation!


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