1. Pre-Wash: Pre-wash cold or warm to ensure you are not trying to clean in soiled water. Some people use the pre-rinse setting and spin out the water prior to the main wash. If you live in an area with hard water (most of Reno and Surrounding areas) should consider using a pre-wash or quick wash with line 1+ of detergent.
2. Wash: Heavy Duty wash with full amount of detergent (what the manufacturer suggests). Use from Line 2 to the full scoop of detergent in the main wash, and add any water softeners or boosters as necessary at this time. (You can find out if you need water softeners by testing your water, homedepot carries strips to test your water) Select the wash cycle that will give you the hardest agitation for the longest time.
3. Rinse: Follow with 1-2 extra rinses
4. Dry. Dry in the dryer or hang dry.
It's perfectly safe for the PUL to dry in the dryer. WARNING: Do not to stretch elastic while it's hot as it will relax it. Let your diapers cool before stuffing them. Wool Dryerballs will help keep them soft and dry them faster too!
If you hang dry, do so in a way that puts less stress on the elastics, as the weight of a heavy wet diaper pulling them down can prematurely relax them (especially if drying in the heat.) Hanging by the middle or by the sides will help relieve the elastics from the full weight of the wet diaper. If your diapers feel stiff after hanging to dry, you can throw them in the dryer for 10-15 minutes to fluff them (wool dryer balls will help with this process).
DO NOT USE fabric softeners: This can cause repelling among other issues with your diapers. However, if a dryer sheet accidentally makes its way into a load of diapers, don't be alarmed. A single exposure to synthetic fabric softener or a dryer sheet will not ruin your diapers. Test an insert to see if it will properly absorb (if it's synthetic, just press your hand down on it and let the water run through.) If there is repelling, simply wash the diapers again with a hot wash and detergent.
Properly cleaning your cloth diapers is very simple and easy. You should not be using too little detergent in too much water. Properly cleaned diapers will never smell after washing, will not repel liquids, and will not cause rashes or burns on your baby. If you find yourself needing to strip or bleach your diapers due to any of these issues, it is an indicator that they are not properly cleaned and you need to change your wash routine. Properly cleaned diapers will not require stripping or bleaching.
§ When hand-washing cloth diapers, sometimes keeping it simple is better. What I mean by this is go back to the basics – prefolds, flats, and covers. These types of diapers are the easiest to hand wash and tend to dry quicker than All in One’s or Pocket diapers
§ Try making your own washer with a 10 gallon bucket and plunger. This can be done indoors or outdoors. You could even fill up your tub with water and plunge the diapers in the tub. I have found that the plunger is the best way to agitate the diapers and get them clean.
§ No need to substitute your cloth diaper detergent, use the same amount of detergent and you are good to go. If you are however washing fewer diapers at a time while hand washing, you may want to adjust the amount of detergent you are using for each wash accordingly.
§ My typical washing machine routine consists of 3 washes (cold rinse, hot wash with detergent, and hot rinse). When hand washing cloth diapers, you may not have access to hot water, or even have enough water to do 3 washes. You may need to adjust your wash routine to fit your needs. I found it best to use this routine while hand washing my diapers: