Tips for washing cloth diapers in hard water

Whenever I ask cloth diapering parents what their biggest struggle is, the answer is generally a nighttime diaper solution or a good wash routine.  When I started using cloth diapers, I went into it really naive and just assumed it would be easy.  Eventually, my diapers began to stink.  That led me to start researching to figure out how to get rid of the smell as soon as  one of the kids would pee in them.  If you are running into that problem, the first question you should ask yourself is what is your water type.  That answer will steer you in the right direction to fixing the problem.  To determine your water type, you can contact your local water supply company and ask, or, spend a couple of dollars and buy a test strip.


The results will be one of these:

  • 0-60 mg /L………Soft water
  • 61-120 mg /L…..Moderately hard water
  • 121-180 mg /L….Hard Water
  • 181+……………..Extremely hard water


If you have hard water, you could have fresh smelling diapers without too much trouble.  Here are some things you can do, but first, I suggest an overnight soak in detergent and then rinsing until all of the soap is out.  That will give you a fresh start with your diapers and you will know if your tweaks are fixing the problem or not.

Cloth Diapers and Hard Water

Try adding a water softener like Calgon or RLR.  This is relatively cheap, but because you have to add it to every load, over time, that cost will add up.


Put a water softener in your house.  We have looked into this.  It’s kind of spendy, but would save you money on soaps throughout the house.


Use a detergent designed to work with hard water.  This is going to be the most cost effective way to fix the problem.  You will be using detergent anyways, so there are no added costs.  We use Molly’s Suds Cloth Diaper Laundry Powder.


How effective your wash routine will be depends on five factors:







If you have stinky diapers, adjusting one or more of the factors will have you unplugging your nose in no time.


What are your tips for washing cloth diapers in hard water?  

One lucky Our Piece of Earth reader will win a bag of Molly’s Suds Cloth Diaper laundry powder & wool dryer balls.  Open to US only.  Giveaway will end at 11:59 pm EST on January 24, 2014.  Good luck!


*Giveaway Closed*  
Congratulations to Julie R 




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