Common Cloth Diapering Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Posted 08-2-2013 at 10:08 AM by whitneywalters

I have been a cloth diaper user for over five years now. I know I have made some mistakes along the way and thought I would share some the mistakes I have made, along with the mistakes I have heard others make.

1. Washing mistakes
– This is the biggest issue I had when I first started my cloth diaper adventure. I had read that I needed to use a certain kind of laundry soap and not to use dryer sheets, but that was about it. I ended up using way to much laundry soap and it did not take long before my diapers started to stink. I had to strip all my diapers, quickly changed my washing routine and we have not had any stink issues since.

– I am making all my own laundry soap after having allergic reactions to several store brands. My recipe is pretty simple. I mix a box of borax, washing soda, a small thing of oxiclean, a large box of baking soda and half a bar of laundry soap. I use the scoop from the container of oxiclean and it takes one scoop to wash my diapers.  I always run my diapers through an extra rinse as well.

2. Drying mistakes
- This is not from my personal experience but from someone I know. When she first started using cloth diapers, she was drying all of her diapers on high hea and over drying them. Some of her diapers delaminated and others wore out long before they should have.

– The best way to dry cloth diapers is outside on a clothes line. The sun will naturally bleach out stains and line drying will extend the life of your diapers.
– If you do need to dry in the diaper, never over dry your diapers. I always check mid cycle and take out the pocket shells out since they are dry. I will then finish drying anything else that is wet.

3. Not changing diapers soon enough
- This is a mistake that I have heard several people talk about making. After switching from disposables, they were waiting until the cloth diaper was very wet before changing. This lead to their baby getting rashes.

– You should change a diaper as soon as it is soiled and never go longer then a few hours ( over night is an exception in most cases ) between changes.

4. Rash ointments
- This is another mistake that I made when I first started using cloth. My oldest daughter had horrible rashes from disposable diapers. They got a lot better after switching to cloth but when she did get a flare up, I made the mistake of using a store bought cream. It stained my diaper. I am lucky that all that happened was a stain. Other people have reported loss of absorbency as well.

– There are several places online that you can buy a natural diapering cream that is cloth diaper safe. I have found through my own experience that these creams work much better and I always like knowing that what I am putting on my babies skin is natural.

5. Not having a large enough stash
– I started out with two in cloth. I bought way to few diapers for both kids and I was washing diapers once and sometimes twice a day to keep up. I quickly saw this was not working and I needed more diapers.

– A larger stash will make it so you are not washing diapers every day. This will help extend the life of your diapers and make you life easier. A good rule of thumb is to have enough diapers for 38 changes ( some people do okay with less and others prefer a lot more. )

Filed Under: Cloth Diapering, General

Comments

12 Responses to “Common Cloth Diapering Mistakes and How to Avoid Them”

  1. vatblack on August 2nd, 2013 10:59 am


    This is very good advice, but as far as your first point goes, I think it is a very personal aspect of diapering. I used regular Tide, a quarter of the recommended amount for a load. I did a short, cold pre-wash, a regular hot wash and two rinses per load. I never had stink problems.

    The next person to post, might probably say that my way didn’t work for her etc. etc. etc.

    My point is that your washing mistake isn’t necessarily the same for every diapering person.

  2. kbum on August 2nd, 2013 1:07 pm


    Be careful with using oxiclean…it may be alright or even recommended for some diapers (synthetics) but it will destroy natural fibers, especially bamboo. The damage won’t show up right away…usually a month or so down the road though the diapers will begin to develop holes and they will just keep spreading. Bleach has the same consequences.

  3. yabaiby on August 2nd, 2013 6:16 pm


    How much is “way too much soap” and why does it make the diapers stink?

  4. New cloth lover on August 3rd, 2013 11:44 am


    About drying on the line- if you live in a very hot climate (we hit 100 almost everyday in the summer) be sure to not leave the diapers out too long. It can have the same affect as over-drying in the dryer. 3 hours in the very hot sun and some of the elastic in my cheaper diapers was ruined

  5. GreenChristine on August 4th, 2013 7:08 am


    Thank you for the tips! I am venturing into the world of cloth dipes now that my daughter isnt having ridiculous liquid poops all the time, and goes longer between soiling them. I just had two things to ask-about the detergent-have you tried Celadon Road? It is safe for cloth diapers, only requires 1 tablespoon per HE load, and was formulated for a child with eczema. You dont need softener, as it contains vinegar, and cost per load works out to only 16 cents! Most people dont realize that TIDE is the #1 cause of skin irritations from a detergent. I’d love to share a sample with you. Of course, you may be just fine with making your own, but lots of people just dont have the time or energy to do so. I’d love for you to have a brand that you could recommend! Also, about line-drying, my clothes line does not get much sun, and I dont have a good way to put up another one in a spot that does. Do they absolutely need full sun? How long do they need? I’d really rather not buy a contraption that I’ll have to store, I dont have much storage space. Thanks! :-)

  6. Shannyn2829 on August 4th, 2013 7:35 pm


    Love your stash :)

    My dryer also melted some snaps making it so they won’t stay shut. This happened to diapers made by WAHMs. ;)

  7. ChicagoGillotts on August 5th, 2013 3:09 pm


    Thanks for the tips! I’m about 2 months into cloth diaper with my second child – it was a good reminder, but thankfully, so far, I haven’t made any of those mistakes! Wish I could line dry…but our neighborhood doesn’t allow it…so dumb.

  8. Melinda29 on August 8th, 2013 11:33 am


    As someone who has cloth diapered 4 children over more than 8 years, using every different type of CD available in many different types of machines and waters (hard, soft, high pH, low pH), I wholeheartedly disagree with your first 2 points.

    1) The absolute most common cause of diaper stink is using too little detergent or too weak detergent (usually those touted as “CD-safe”), or both. These things are made of fabric, just like our clothes, and they get pooped in. They need strong detergent and plenty of it. It sounds like you have found the perfect kind and amount for your water, but for MOST people, homemade detergent isn’t strong enough and “using too much detergent” is a scare tactic. Yes, too much detergent can cause ocassionally some repelling on synthetic inners, but stink = bacteria = dipes that are not getting washed clean.

    2) I have used literally hundreds of clo diapers over the years. Some have been dried on high heat every week for 6+ years and are still going strong.

    I appreciate your article but PLEASE do not make CDing seem more complicated than it is. That is why I see people time and time again get scared away from it, or end up with not-clean stinky diapers from

  9. Melinda29 on August 8th, 2013 11:37 am


    As someone who has cloth diapered 4 children over more than 8 years, using every different type of CD available in many different types of machines and waters (hard, soft, high pH, low pH), I wholeheartedly disagree with your first 2 points.

    1) The absolute most common cause of diaper stink is using too little detergent or too weak detergent (usually those touted as “CD-safe”), or both. These things are made of fabric, just like our clothes, and they get pooped in. They need strong detergent and plenty of it. It sounds like you have found the perfect kind and amount for your water, but for MOST people, homemade detergent isn’t strong enough and “using too much detergent” is a scare tactic. Yes, too much detergent can cause ocassionally some repelling on synthetic inners, but stink = bacteria = dipes that are not getting washed clean. Wash them the same way you would wash sheets that got puked on: A prerinse to get out the gunk, then a hot heavy wash with a strong detergent–however much you would use in your particular water and machine for a load of clothes.

    2) I have used literally hundreds of clo diapers over the years. Some have been dried on high heat every week for 6+ years and are still going strong. Some were washed on gentle and line dried and delaminated after 6 months. Same brands, different results, no rhyme or reason. I wish I could pinpoint it, but dryers aren’t the cause.

    I appreciate your article but PLEASE do not make CDing seem more complicated than it is.

  10. amandajiggles on August 10th, 2013 7:47 pm


    Line drying does not have to be in the direct sun for the stain removing benefits. I often sunned mine on a drying rack in a sunny window and the stains come out…even on dreary canada winter days. You can use a drying rack hang on hangers, drape on furniture etc to avoid neighbourhood restrictions. A drying rack in your yard may not draw any attention

  11. babyleon on August 13th, 2013 9:18 am


    Nice post :)

  12. KendallShawn on August 18th, 2013 6:24 pm


    I really like everything in this post, except the soap bit. If someone’s having reactions to the stuff they’re buying that’s one thing, but the reason for not using actual “soap,” oxyclean, or many others is that it not only can wear the diapers but also voids most warranties. And I have personally found that the “use less soap” advice led to *stinkier* diapers for me, because they just plain weren’t getting clean! I think the key truly is using the WATCH acronym, like it talks about in this article: http://www.realdiaperassociation.org/wash/laundry-science.php

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