Let’s Talk about Cloth, Baby: Prepping your Cloth Diapers

May 24th, 2012 | Posted by Bryn in SF

No matter what type of diapers you chose, it’s a good idea to pre-wash them because you want only the cleanest fabric possible next to your baby’s sensitive areas.

What is prepping?

Depending on which type of diapers you purchase, you may need to “prep” (pre-wash or boil) your diapers to achieve maximum absorbancy.


  • Unbleached flat and prefold diapers are made of natural cotton, and this cotton contains natural wax, which needs to be stripped off before the diapers will be really absorbent.
  • When many flat or prefold diapers are brand new, they are pretty stiff in texture, and they will continually get softer and fluffier with each wash.
  • These diapers will also shrink in the wash–flats look like tablecloths when they arrive, but they shrink to a manageable size after a few washes.
  • Any type of diaper you purchase may have been sitting in a warehouse awhile and may have a little dust in the fabric.


Synthetic fibers–such as microfiber inserts–just need one hot wash with a cloth-friendly detergent, and you’re good to go!

Natural fibers–such as cotton flats or prefolds–will need to be washed at least 3-5 times on the hottest setting possible.

An alternative to all those wash cycles is to boil them, like this:

This method also works for stripping diapers after they’ve been used for awhile and are retaining smells.

Pocket diapers, All-in-One diapers, and diaper covers–follow the manufacturers instructions, usually just one hot wash.

For more information on which diaper is right for you, see Let’s Talk about Cloth, Baby: Getting Started

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