How-To: Washing Instructions
Washing your cloth diapers does not need to be a horrible, time-consuming chore. Modern washers and dryers make it a quick and relatively painless task.
Note: These are general washing instructions. Check your diapers for care instructions - almost all diapers have a tag on them with washing instructions.
Step one: Get rid of any solids or liners
Make sure you knock any solids in to the toilet before you wash. If the stool isn't completely solid, use a spatula (for diapering only please!) or a diaper sprayer to get as much off as you can. If you were using a flushable liner, flush it - do not wash paper liners.
Step two: Pre-wash
With diapers, you want to run a pre-wash before actually washing them. Using cold water (to keep stains from setting), run a pre-wash (or if you washer is missing this option, run it through a plain 'light' wash). Make sure it agitates, spins, and drains. Many people use a small amount of detergent in their pre-wash to help lift off the soil.
Why run a pre-wash? When you don't run a pre-wash, you are washing your diapers in water that is already full of feces and urine. A pre-wash spins all of the gross stuff out so that the regular wash can really get down in there and clean the fibers with fresh water.
Step three: Hot, heavy wash, high agitation, and spin
Make sure you've selected a heavy wash option with lots of agitation. The agitation, in combination with detergent, is really what gets your diapers clean. Use the recommended amount of detergent for a "heavily soiled load" (check the bottle or box for amounts) and take a peek in your washer to make sure the diapers are at a "stew" consistancy. If they are floating around, you have too much water. If they aren't moving at all, you have too little.
Step four: Drying
Contrary to rumor, PUL is perfectly fine to put in a residential dryer. It was originally designed to withstand autoclave temperatures. If you put your diapers in a dryer, do NOT stretch the elastic until it is fully cooled. Stretching hot elastic can wear them out.
If you are worried about the dryer hurting the waterproof lining, you can hang dry any PUL items. Hang them sideways so the elastic doesn't get stretched out.