Updated on November 12, 2015
How to Prep Cloth Diapers
The moment is here. The mailman is walking up the path to your front door, and he’s bringing FLUFF MAIL!!!! In case you don’t know what fluff mail is, it’s what cloth diaper lovers call a shipment of cloth diapers. Of course all you want to do is get that new fluff on baby’s bum as soon as possible, but first, you need to prep the diapers. How on earth are you going to do that? Fear not, I’m here, and I’m going to tell you.
Prepping diapers is a necessary step in getting cloth diapers on your baby. Not only is it going to wash off any dust/dirt that may have gotten on the fabrics from manufacturing and shipping, but it’s also going to ensure that your diapers absorb as they should. Prepping requires that you wash the diapers with laundry detergent. How many times you wash and what other laundry can be in the prep washes depends on what kind of diapers you have.
Synthetic diapers are the easiest to prep. Synthetic materials include microfibre, fleece, suede cloth, and athletic wicking jersey (AWJ). These materials require just one prep wash to be ready for the bum. You can prep synthetic diapers with any other laundry or with a load of soiled diapers. Easy peasy.
The natural fibre diapers require a little more effort to prep fully. The reason for this is that bamboo, hemp, and cotton have naturally occurring oils that need to be washed out of the fibres. If you don’t wash those oils out, they can lead to repelling, and you don’t want that. The first step is to wash natural fibres separate from other diapers for two prep washes. That means they need to be washed separate from synthetic diapers, and separate from diapers that are already in the rotation in your stash. Once you’ve done two prep washes on them, they can be washed with any other diapers from then on.
To be fully prepped and ready for the bum, these natural fibre diapers require 3-5 prep washes. Whether it’s 3 or 5 depends on the brand of diaper, so check the packaging for the specific recommendation of the brand you’ve purchased. You do not need to dry the diapers in between prep washes. Natural fibre diapers will continue to increase in absorbency until they’ve been washed 8-10 times.
What Cycle for Prepping?
Now you’re probably wondering what wash cycle and water temperature to use for prep washes. Here’s the best part! Any wash cycle and any water temperature counts as a prep wash! Whether it’s a “rapid wash” cycle on cold or a “heavy duty” cycle on hot, both work just fine for prepping. Remember to always use detergent for prep wash cycles. You can do your prep washes with other laundry if you want to avoid running wash cycles for just a few diapers at a time. Just remember that natural fibres need to be prepped separate from other diapers for the first two prep washes, but you can wash them with regular laundry for those first two cycles if you want.
How Not to Prep
I have seen boiling recommended as a way to prep cloth diapers. Please do not boil your diapers. For starters, anything with PUL, snaps, aplix/velcro, and/or elastics should never be put in boiling water as it will damage those materials. Using your wash machine is more effective and so much safer than boiling diapers on the stove.
Do your best not to startle the mailman while you stalk him from behind the curtains in your front window! Happy diaper prepping!