The Saturday Question: How often do you wash cloth diapers?

Some of you wash every other day while others let the loads build up for over a week before tossing them in the wash.  What would you recommend as a washing schedule for those just getting started?  How frequently do you have to launder them so that smell isn’t an issue?  We all have different tricks for keeping those diapers clean while cutting down our workload.  What are yours?


  1. We diaper our 6 week old with prefolds, and wash every three days. We have 36 diapers, so running out is not the issue. Three days is when the pail (target garbage can + Wammies liner) gets full and a touch smelly.
    I know people sprinkle baking soda in the pail when things get a little smelly and chemically I know is should work (it also makes washing a little more effective)

  2. I’m really glad you posted this question. We’re expecting our 1st in May and planning on cloth diapering. I’m not quite sure what our routine is going to be, so I’m curious what everybody does. Right now, I think our plan is every 2-3 days but that is mostly due to the number of diapers we have at the moment.

  3. We have 2 under 2 (I can only say that for 3 more weeks, sigh…) both in cloth diapers….we wash every 2 days. We use 2 wet bags in the bathroom & by that point, the bags are overflowing…some times, we get out of sync and one uses more diapers than normal (ie: teething, sick tummies, etc…) and we end up washing every day for a couple days…

    i try to go 2-3, I found if I went more than 3, the stink (even after washing) was horrible and the hardest thing to get rid of…

  4. Every other day. I don’t have enough diapers to go longer, but I think even if I did I would still wash every other day. The thought of letting it sit longer than that is kinda grossing me out right now…

  5. Every other day. And I do ’em after bedtime to get as many as I can in the load.

  6. I just started cloth diapering my 19 month old four weeks ago for four days a week. I work three days a week so we use disposables at the babysitter’s house. I wash every two days typically Saturday night and Monday night. I don’t have a lot of diapers yet and I am still trying to figure out what works for us and what doesn’t. Washing every two days seems to be pretty good for us. It really has not been a big deal to wash them. I thought it would be so much more difficult than it is. We had our first blow out today (but that can happen with any diaper). Other than the blow out it has been great and I never knew how addicting it could be. I am trying to figure cloth diapering out now so when our third child (three and under) arrives this summer we will be ready. 🙂

  7. Veggiemomma says

    I use all pocket diapers and I have quite a large amount. I usually wash every 2-3 days, but I do have some back up diapers to use if I run out before the wash.

  8. We use BG pocket 1 size diapers and wash every other day. I usually run out by then and do the load right after bedtime. I’m planning on adding more to our stash so that we don’t “run out” anymore and can wash with out needing to use the dryer, air drying is so much nicer and cheaper! Honestly by that time the pail starts to smell iffy anyway so i wouldn’t want to wait any longer…especially if their was a diaper that had had a #2 in it.

  9. I was so happy to see this post! I am due to have a baby TODAY and have all of my cloth diapers ready to go (a girlfriend of mine MAKES them in a sewing circle with other like-minded moms, from scraps of material!). I was planning on washing daily and can now see that’s not going to be necessary. Thanks for the great question and the tips!

  10. We have 30 diapers, I wash them every three days (three and half days if its a busy week). Any longer than that and they start to smell and I start to worry about whats growing in them.

  11. Thanks for all the feedback so far!

    We had three dozen prefolds and washed every four days. Some have said that letting them sit longer than two days is questionable. I know that if you use a diaper service, they pick up the diapers once a week, so I felt fine about every four days.

    I did not let diapers sit around with #2 on them–that goes in the toilet (after your child is eating solid foods). If the diapers get too messy and the poop does not just fall off the diaper and into the toilet, you can always get flushable diaper liners if you want to avoid dunking your diapers. I had to dunk a few times and I did not enjoy it! If it had been a regular thing I’d have ordered the diaper liners without hesitation.

    The idea of buying more diapers than you need so you have the time to line dry them between loads is a good one!

  12. This is fabulous advice! Does anyone have advice on different kinds of cloth diapers: all in ones, pocket diapers, etc, or brands? Or is there another post already about this topic? Thanks!!

  13. We have loads of great diaper posts! Check out our diaper duel between prefolds and pocket diapers and look over our favorite eco-friendly diaper websites. You can also find cost comparisons between disposables and cloth. And there’s more where all of that came from! Simply use the blue search box right below the ad in the top right corner. Thanks for visiting!

  14. To add to Joy’s comment, you could also just click on “Diapers” under “categories” on the left to read all of our diaper posts.

  15. I usually do a load of diapers on Tuesdays and Fridays. I hang them to dry and never have a problem running out of diapers. I use pockets and have a decent amount. I always dump and rinse the poopy diapers and really have never noticed an odor problem. However, once it starts to get more humid and we don’t have the heat on, I will probably need to add an extra wash per week so the dipes have longer to dry.

  16. I have BG OS and I just added some FB OS to the mix. I do laundry about every other day. No Smell issues really. I use a regular trash can with the wahmies pail liner and it works great.

    Baby number two is on the way and I am going to using a mix of prefolds, fitteds, and AIO’s. I think I may have to do laundry loads more often just bc I will have two in cloth and I do not want the loads to be too large, I do not see myself running out of diapers.

    I live in the northeast so it is COLD! But I can not wait until it warms up a little bit bc I want to try to start drying the diapers outside, in the sun–this will be an exciting event in my life;)

  17. we wash every three days. we use a dry pail and just rinse the soiled ones, and we actually leave the lid open–the air combined with sprinkled baking soda actually keeps odors at bay.

  18. I wash about every 3 days. Sometimes more like 3 1/2 to 4 days. I haven’t had smell issues. My kid eats A LOT of fruit and does not have poops that fall into the toilet, so I use liners, but that still doesn’t always prevent poop from getting on the diapers. I rarely toilet dunk though. My sister toilet dunks and says she often goes as long as a week without problems. If you are just starting, I would try every other day, and then go from there. I started every other day, and quickly realized I could stretch to 3 days without problem. I do have lots of diapers, though, and am able to line dry when the weather is nice, which also helps with smell issues, by the way.

  19. I wash diapers every other day. We put solid poops in the toilet, and then always wash poopy diapers out in the sink before we put them in the diaper pail. We sprinkle baking soda into the pail after every few diapers, and don’t have odor problems. Our little guy is 10 months old and has been in cloth diapers since he was born. It’s been so much easier than we had thought it would be!

  20. We have 36 prefolds and now that baby is almost 3 months we wash every 5 days. But I have to say, I prewash them at home by hand to get rid of smell and hang to dry until it’s laundry day.-

  21. I’ve never heard of anyone else doing this so maybe there’s a reason, but after a few weeks of using cloth diapers I started washing the wet-only diapers with the rest of our laundry (I do a wash every 2-3 days anyway). I keep the #2 diapers (after dumping & rinsing if necessary) in a closed bucket until I had enough for a small load. After 2 years I’ve never had any issues. If I wasn’t going to do a wash in more than a day or so I’d usually rinse the wet #1 diapers in used bathwater or something similar. When I got close to a load with the #2 diapers (usually a week to 10 days) I’d throw the #1 diapers in also.

    Especially in summer I’d sometimes air dry the rinsed diapers on branches in the backyard before tossing them in bucket or hamper. (In Texas they’d be completely dry in an hour or 2)

  22. We use pocket diapers and I wash them every 3 days, sometimes 4. Basically when I run out of clean ones, I throw them in the machine.

    We do use disposables at night because my kids are super soakers at night. I am not brave enough to use cloth at night because I value my sleep and would hate for a leak to wake them (and me) up.

    We do what has been said above: poop goes into the toilet and rinse in sink, ones with just pee go directly into the pail.

  23. I am so glad I saw this – I just started cloth diapering regularly, I was very unorganized at first and would use cloth them disposable. I just washed diapers yesterday and threw in another load today. My little wet bag wouldn’t hold any more and I thought I needed to wash more often. I am so glad to read that I can go 2 or 3 days without problems. I will need to get more covers – I have 4 covers and 16 prefolds. I have never used them all as I am just getting started. Here goes to full-time cloth diapering!

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