The Cloth Diaper Prep Guide!

New or Pre-Loved, cloth diapers need a good prepping before the first use. Although many can be intimidated by prepping, The Cloth Diaper Prep Guide!  will help you to make prepping your cloth diapers a piece of cake.  Everyone loves cake!


Here is the handy dandy guide!


  1. Are the diapers brand new, never used?
  • Diapers with microfiber inserts, these diapers are the easiest to prep!
    1. Take all diapers and remove the insert from the pocket if it has a pocket. If there is no pocket no big deal.
    2. Throw them into a hot wash, no need for detergent.


    1. Throw them into your existing diaper wash with your usual cloth diaper detergent.
    2. Complete the wash cycle.
    3. Dry.


  • Natural fiber diapers (Cotton, Hemp, Bamboo) Prefolds, Flats, Fitteds,  and some AIO diapers.


      • Natural Fibers need 3-6 washes to reach full absorbency.


  • Prefolds
    1. Wash on hot with detergent in the first wash, 2 other washes without any detergent.
    2. Dry in between washes, this will help fluff up and quilt the prefolds. (you want them nice a fluffy!)


    1. Get a huge pot and boil them with a drop or two of dawn dish soap
    2. Be Prepared for it to be a long process, because unless you have a giant cauldron you have to do these 1-2 at a time for 15-20 minutes at a time.
    3. Rinse in the sink
    4. Throw into the washer and do 2 hot rinses
    5. Dry, and you are done!


Do Not boil anything that has snaps, PUL or Elastic


  • Flats
    1. Wash on hot twice. First wash with detergent, second wash without
    2. Dry.


  • Fitteds
    1. Wash on hot with detergent for the first wash, 2 other washes without detergent.  No need to dry between washes.
    2. Dry.
    3. There is the exception of some WAHM fitteds that may come half-way prepped. Ask the maker how you should go about prepping.
  • AIO
    1. Wash 3 times, once with detergent and twice without. No need to dry between washes.
    2. Dry.

 With all new diapers, after the initial 3 washes you may begin to use the diapers but please be diligent with changes as they will need at 2-3 more washes to reach FULL absorbency. So just change a little earlier than usual.

    2.Pre-Loved Diapers


  • With Pre-Loved diapers, sometimes they aren’t so “loved” and are more “mistreated”. Find out what the wash routine of the previous owner was; What type/brand of detergent, were there any problems like repelling, leaking, ammonia, yeast, UTI or  Did they use any rash creams. Did they use a lot of bleach or strip often.
    1. First thing you want to do is run 2-3 hot washes without any other diapers, just the pre-loved diapers, with no detergent. Usually this works without any other steps.
    2. You can wash with your own detergent after the initial 2-3 washes with no detergent if you want, the diaper should be well enough to wear by now.
    3. If the diapers were particularly used, a questionable detergent/cream was used or there was ammonia, yeast, UTI, repelling or leaking – Skip the wash with your detergent and  add Calgon water softener to the next to the last wash.
    4. Same as above, you may need to add 1/4th of a cup or 2-4 tablespoons of bleach in a wash after the Calgon wash and then run an extra rinse to rinse out any bleach.
    5. Use the sun. Sun the diapers while they are still wet. This will also help remove any stains that may be present.


This is pretty much the same for all pre-loved diapers. If a pre-loved diapers are leaking after you wash out any kind of funk that may have been in there from the previous owner, turn the diaper inside out and inspect the PUL. If the diapers smell bad after you wash out any funk, run the same wash steps 1-4 as listed above.  You may need to contact the previous owner if problems aren’t fixed by washing and if the diaper was possibly misrepresented when it was put up for sale.


Here are a few other tips you may find helpful

  • Only use 1-2 TEASPOONS of detergent while prepping new diapers
  • Cloth diaper covers don’t need prepped, although you may want to clean them before use. You can just throw them into your usual wash routine.
  • Sometimes its easier to just get all the prepping washes on new diapers done before using them.
  • Once everything is washed and prepped, synthetic microfiber and natural fibers may be washed all together.
  • Natural fibers are the only diapers that need a bit of detergent in the first wash to break up the natural oils in the fiber.







2 thoughts on “The Cloth Diaper Prep Guide!

  1. I often stick my new dipes to be prepped with my regular laundry, since I use the same detergent for both. That way, I’m not wasting water/electricity/time on just loads of diapers to be prepped.

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