There are two categories of diapers: Synthetic fabrics and natural fibers, and they both need different preparation. Read your labels and find out which kind your diaper is made from. Here is a guide to help.
This includes anything that is a man-made material like microfiber and stay-dry. Look for labels like polyester, nylon or polymide. If you’re entire diaper is composed of this material only wash it once prior to your first use. This doesn’t do anything to the diaper except clean it and give you the peace of mind that any factory yuck is removed before it goes on your baby. This is the same process that you would use before putting a brand new t-shirt or onesie on your little one.
These fabrics need to be washed repeatedly prior to the first use to strip the natural oils and make them absorbent. Bamboo needs the least with 2-3 washes, cotton 4-5 washes, and hemp needs the most at 5-6 washes. All natural fiber diapers will peak out their maximum absorbency at 10 washes.
If you already cloth diaper, simply throw in a few new diapers in your current diaper laundry. Repeat this process until it is ready to use.
Run a hot wash on a long heavy duty cycle and add detergent. Skip the cold rinse and start the cycle over on another hot wash skipping the detergent this time. Repeat the hot wash (no detergent) until you have enough washes then allow the cycle to complete and dry them according the manufactures instructions. It is important to use the dyer a few times to shrink your diaper to the correct size. Most natural fibers will shrink about 10%. This is accounted for when they are made.