How NOT to Wash and Dry your Cloth Diapers

How do I wash and dry my Lil Helper cloth diapers? Why do my cloth diapers smell badWe are often asked, “how do we wash and dry our Lil Helper cloth diapers and inserts?” It’s not as straightforward as you’d think. A bit of water and too little detergent is what most people new to cloth diapering think is the magic formula. Then they end up with the dreaded Funk.

For those who are goal-oriented and don’t have the time to whip through this blog, we have made you an “infographic” explaining the proper washing and drying routine for your Lil Helper Cloth Diapers. Click here to view it. Otherwise, read on! It’s Hump Day and we feel like having some fun!

What’s The Funk?

a) The whiff of a ripe dipe (aka your cloth diapers smell bad)

b) A 1960s music genre.

c) How you feel on Monday morning.

d) All of the above.

If you chose d), you’d be bang-on, and you’ve probably experienced The Funk.

We feel there are enough sites out there telling you NOT to get The Funk. We’re a lil different here at Lil Helper Cloth Diapers. We think it’s better for you to know how you DO get it (think of this as “positive reinforcement”).

Top Ten List of How to GET The Funk

For those who feel they’re missing out.

10. Wash too many of your inserts at a time. Too many dirty dipes and inserts is like a big fish in a small pond. There’s just not enough water to go around.

cloth diapers smell bad9. Do not spray or shake off solids (ew) from the diaper. Who wants to get their hands icky? Not me. Just dump that full diaper into the pot. (Of course this is a prime time for me to plug our Stay Dry Liners but that would be self-serving to post a link here. Or here.)

8. Do not use a lot of water when washing. See notes above. Little water, no shaking, and lots of inserts and covers make for a yummy poo stew.

7. Use non-cloth friendly detergents or softeners. These will coat the fibres, inhibiting absorption. Less absorption means more leaks for you! (And we know what THAT means… your baby goes through more clothes and well, it’s time for some retail therapy and a few episodes of Glee thereafter).

6. Wash your covers in HOT water. This will ruin the waterproof barrier which is heat-bonded to the cover.

5. Wash your inserts in stone cold water. Most of the time, cold water is fine to wash your cloth diapers in. But if you’ve been making errors in your wash routine, you might need to switch to using hot water to get rid of The Funk.
4. Don’t use enough detergent You’ll find lots of cloth diaper washing instructions online that tell you to use less detergent to wash your diapers (we even used to recommend it ourselves 😱). This is not good advice. How much you use is determined by what kind of detergent you are using. We recommend you use Tide Original powder – line 1 in the prewash and a full scoop in your main wash. Read more here.

3. Use soap. Soap is not your friend. Detergent is your bestie. Read more about why soap is not recommended for washing cloth diapers here.
cloth diapers smell bad lil helper

2. Dry your covers in a hot dryer. This is particularly effective because the waterproof barrier is heat-bonded to the shell. Too much heat will cause the PUL to detach and deteriorate.

1. Let ’em stew. Don’t wash your cloth diapers quickly after they are soiled. Let the microbes grow if you want a good Funk. If you let them sit for longer than 3 days the uric acid will cause ammonia build up and they will be much harder to clean properly and they will have long lasting “funk” issues.

For those who are more visual (as opposed to the link at the top for the “goal-oriented”), we have made you an “infographic” explaining the proper washing and drying routine for your Lil Helper Cloth Diapers. Click here to view it.

12 thoughts on “How NOT to Wash and Dry your Cloth Diapers

    1. Hi Michelle,

      We are so sorry for confusing you! That was certainly not our intentions!

      If you have specific questions about how to wash your diapers, please email us at and we will gladly walk through all things cloth laundry with you!


  1. I am glad I decided to read it. I’ve learnt a thing or two. The way it is written is in keeping with the spirit of Lil Helpers’ lil Helpers’. ☺️

    1. Thank you for the feedback, Alicia! I can certainly see how this post might have been a bit confusing. We will certainly try to keep things more clear in the future. Thank you for taking the time to read & share your thoughts 🙂

  2. I agree with Michelle above, this is so confusing. I like the sense of humor you have about things, and I get trying to keep things fun, but I am lost.

    1. Hi Cassandra! Tamara with the Content Team here! I’m sorry to hear that this post left you scratching your head. We will certainly try to be more clear in the future. Please know that if you ever have any questions regarding the care of your LilHelper diapers you can reach out to us at at any time and a team member will be happy to help.

  3. This post is ridiculous, you need to write a clear post on how to wash these diapers. Couldn’t be more confusing the way you wrote this.

  4. Hi, I want to know if it is convenient to let the pooed diapers inside a bucket with water until we get them in the washer machine. My baby’s poo is not solid yet and we do the washing every night. Thanks!

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