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Cloth 101: Do not use a sanitize cycle when washing cloth diapers
November 7, 2011 2:56 am | by
Sanitize cycles on newer washing machines superheat the water within the machine. These high temperatures can cause elements of the diaper to break down.
We suggest washing your diapers on a hot cycle setting for best results. If you have other brands of modern cloth diapers, we suggest you check with the manufacturer for their best laundry practices.
If you ever have any questions about your laundry routine, contact us by phone at 1-314-892-1855, by e-mail at or via live chat at We’re always glad to assist you.


About the Author

Heather is mom to four, born within 40 months (single, twins, single). She writes transparently about her chaotic household to encourage others through the twists and turns of parenting.



  • Tyler & Rose-Ellen said...
    November 6, 2012 at 6:42 pm

    I have cloth diapered 3 kids over the past 5 years and have dealt with all kinds of washing issues. The sanitize cycle on my new (awesome!!) Kenmore HE top loader has saved me a ton of hassle. Every month or two I do my regular diaper wash (warm wash w 1/2 detergent, “whitest whites” wash w 1/2 dtg and extra rinse). Then I take out all the covers, pocket shells, AIOs, pail liners, etc, and hang them to dry. I add 1/4 c bleach to the inserts and prefolds that are left and run the sanitize cycle, and the dryer sanitize cycle. My diapers come out fluffy and soft and smelling good! My baby can even wear them overnight which I haven’t been able to do since I had brand new diapers on my first kid.

  • Sultan@igmarston said...
    June 26, 2012 at 12:34 am

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  • Diane said...
    March 2, 2012 at 11:38 am

    I have a Kemmore HE Front loader and I wash my BG’s on the sanitize cycle and I have no problems with my diapers. I had major stink issues especially with poopy diapers until i started doing this. My washer doesnt have a pre-wash cycle so this is what I do. I spray the poopy diapers with bumgenius odor remover then I put all the diapers in the washer and do a cold wash with no detergent and no spin so that it makes the diapers heavier and my machine will add more water to the next wash. Then i wash on sanitize with rockin green detergent ( 1 1/2 tablespoons) and add a second rinse. I also have hard water so I add a lid of calgon water softener to the fabric softener slot too. My diapers come out fresh every time with no smell. I also air dry my covers and just put the inserts in the dryer. From what Ive read and heard its the dryer that does most of the damage to the elastic on your diapers. I also put an 1/8 cup of bleach through the wash once a month per bumgenius’s recommendation.

  • Anonymous said...
    January 4, 2012 at 5:17 pm

    If you have an HE front loader be sure to leave to the door open after washing. They seal so tight that bacteria can grow in the washer, and also use a cleaner (Tide has one) every month or so.

  • Nancy Yi said...
    December 22, 2011 at 1:33 pm

    I’ve tried the recommened stripping method once every 6 weeks, whether my diapers needed them or not. The beautiful bright colors faded. I am so sad.

    Anyway, I’ve tried the following, which works great. Prewash cold. 30 minutes hot soak with 3 TBLS of Rocking Green. I simply stop the machine to allow for soaking. Then I run the wash as normal. End with 2 cycles of cold rinse.

    I don’t have odor issues, but I do have stain issues and this method has worked great. PP is correct about using less detergent on a regular basis.

  • Skip Liquid Detergent said...
    November 9, 2011 at 2:59 am

    Hey friends,
    I am curious what others do who have a similar machine. When doing just the rinse, regular wash, rinse, my diapers had an odor that they have never had before so now I do rinse,Thanks

  • Anonymous said...
    November 8, 2011 at 7:38 am

    Learn from my $100 service call from the applicance repair man:

    If you are having lots of stink issues try cutting back by half on the amount of detergent you are using. Too much will build up in your diapers and cause the odor to cling to the fabric. This applies to all clothes and stains— sometimes less is more. Also, if you are using too much in a HE machine, the machine will continue to wash until it senses all the detergent is gone (hence losing the High Effeciency part of HE).

    If you have an HE washer you need to purchase the HE cleaner detergent and run that through your machine once a month— all the mirco poo pieces can build up on your machine’s drum, pipes, ect and cause some issues that will spread to all your laundry.

  • Anonymous said...
    November 8, 2011 at 7:26 am

    I’m a rebel. I’ve used the sanitary setting on my HE washer since day one. I also use the prewash setting with powdered BumGenius diaper detergent, wash cycle with allergen free All liquid detergent, and a second rised cycle. Once a month I bleach. It’s 18 months later and my diapers are still fine; however, by doing this I’ve voided all warrenties and recommendations by the company.

  • Melissa Houston said...
    November 7, 2011 at 9:23 pm

    We’ve had a stink issue with our front loader as well. Our best method has been to use powder detergent (we use Nellie’s) with a prewash-wash-rinse cycle and then bleach once a month. The very BEST odor eater has been sun bleaching/drying our diapers. And we do now split the diapers to wash the stuffers separate from the covers because they tend to need different rinse times and it minimizes the number of items in the washer. It’s not perfect but it works for us – and we are sun drying on 40 degree days up here in New England.

  • Anonymous said...
    November 7, 2011 at 8:47 pm

    I’ve been dealing with funky diaper stink using my front loader as well…diapers look fresh, bright and clean but there is that weird smell and my son has had diaper rash this week. I think we are going to purchase a top loader off craigs list to use for washing our diapers and continue to do the rest of our laundry in the front loader. The whole point of us purchasing a front loader in the first place was to be more energy efficient and I feel like washing my diapers 5X for one load is defeating the purpose, not to mention time consuming as I wash my diapers at the end of every day.

    Something that might be helpful to others out there with front loaders is…it is possible to add additional water to your front loading washing machine while it’s in midcycle which does help to rise the diapers. Just wait until your washer has finished filling itself and begins to wash, then use a large pitch to pour water into the washer through the detergent dispenser. I have added up to 3 additional gallons of water to both the wash and the rise cycle which has really seemed to help.

  • Nancy Yi said...
    November 7, 2011 at 7:04 pm

    I use Rockin Green detergent. Have never had an odor issue. Could be due to mineral build up from hard water. RG has detergents for hard water.

  • Anonymous said...
    November 7, 2011 at 5:29 pm

    What about just using the sanitize cycle on the inserts only? I’ve got major microfiber stink if I don’t. I’ve got a front loader and have tried three different detergents from bg. I’ve stripped with dawn and a little bleach. Still stink.

  • Anonymous said...
    November 7, 2011 at 5:25 pm

    I have used this setting twice. Should I be concerned for my diapers?

  • Anonymous said...
    November 7, 2011 at 4:59 pm

    I have an older HE front load washer. It has no bells and whistles 🙂 I do a full cold/cold permanent press cycle to rinse, a full hot/cold heavy cotton wash cycle, and three full permanent press cold/cold cycles to rinse. I’m sure I could do one less rinse at the end, but I have problems with ammonia and stink that have caused rashes in the past. It’s extensive, but to remain rash free, I’m happy to do it. I use Allens Laundry Detergent.

  • Monica said...
    November 7, 2011 at 4:07 pm

    I just recently purchased a high efficiency front loading washing machine and I have had to play with the settings to get my diapers clean and smell free. I am curious what others do who have a similar machine. When doing just the rinse, regular wash, rinse, my diapers had an odor that they have never had before so now I do rinse, pre-wash, heavy-duty wash, rinse, and that seems to do the trick.