How to Prep Your Cloth Diapers

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by Kinsey Marie

How to Prep Synthetic Materials: Wash once with detergent. Dry. Use.

Synthetic materials include, but are not limited to: Microfiber, microfleece, microsuede, polyester, etc.

How to Prep Bamboo: Bamboo is actually rayon after it is heavily processed. Prep all bamboo, charcoal bamboo, and bamboo/microfiber blends just like synthetics: Wash once with detergent.

Please read the following article from the U.S. Federal Trade Commission regarding the processing of bamboo:

It is only the manufacturer’s marketing that tries to bolster our opinion of bamboo as a natural fiber that leads us to think it has natural oils it does not. Any increase in absorbency you note with a second wash is due to the heavy processing, not natural oils.  Please read this absorbency test explaining why more than two washes is unnecessary:

Note: Some brands of Charcoal Bamboo inserts may contain a light gray dye. Alva CBI have been known to bleed onto other parts of diapers during prep. It comes out of any affected parts after a few more washes with detergent, so don’t be alarmed if you notice this– it is not permanent. Some people may want to wash their CBI once separately prior to use for this reason.

How to Prep Hemp and Cotton: Wash twice with detergent, with hot water if possible. No need to dry until after both washes are complete. The drying process only fluffs up the fibers and changes the shape, it does not affect oil removal. Hemp and cotton DO have natural oils, but a good detergent will get them out sufficiently in two washes. Many find that using after one wash causes no issues with leaks.

How to Prep PRE-LOVED diapers: Some people like to do an RLR soak first, it’s optional. As long as you do the bleach soak, you can choose to do an RLR soak later if you run into problems. See How to Strip Your Cloth Diapers. You definitely want to make sure you bleach immediately to remove any bacteria and germs from the fabric. Even if you got them from a trusted friend. Different baby, different germs. See How to Bleach Your Cloth Diapers.

Then wash once. Dry. Use.

Q: Can I prep all my diapers together?


Q: Can or should I BOIL my cloth diapers?
Boiling is not necessary for natural fabrics and can harm synthetics, melt snaps, etc. and can generally ruin modern cloth diapers. Boiling is NOT advised.

Q: What about the natural oils coating synthetic fibers??

AS LONG AS YOU USE A GOOD MAINSTREAM DETERGENT, THE OILS WILL NOT REDEPOSIT ONTO OTHER FABRICS. The role of a detergent is to DETER oil transfer from one fabric to another. You will not have any repelling issues if you add the synthetics to the second prep wash for the natural fibers so that everything is done by the second wash cycle. Please see the above Cloth Diaper Testing link for further confirmation.

THERE IS NO REASON WHY YOU COULD NOT USE YOUR DIAPERS AFTER JUST ONE WASH.  You may notice the absorbency may increase slightly after the first wash cycle, but it is not enough to waste water and time to continue washing them before their very first use. Manufacturer chemicals and any natural oils will be sufficiently out of the materials after a good wash with detergent.


There is a whole lot of wasted water these days, and a good portion of that is due to “prepping” our cloth diapers. It’s got to stop. We are wasting precious time that we as moms don’t have, not to mention the resources! It’s unnecessary and horribly wasteful.Wash your diapers like the laundry they are, and be on your way!