What is Cloth Diaper Stew?

By April Duffy •  Updated: 04/30/24 •  2 min read

There is plenty of cloth diapering lingo, labels, and acronyms to drive you crazy, but maybe one of the weirdest is “cloth diaper stew.” If you’re a beginner to cloth diapering and hear this term, you might panic thinking you have to boil your diapers with onions or something crazy. Rest assured that is not the case.

So, what is cloth diaper stew? Cloth diaper stew is simply the way the cloth diaper community describes the perfect ratio of cloth diapers to water in a washing machine (or bucket if you’re using a hand-washer).

Do Need to “Make” Cloth Diaper Stew?

Usually no. It’s important to note that, cloth diaper stew is only for older, non-HE washing machines. Modern HE machines, and HE detergent for those machines, are made to operate with less water than regular machines.

If you have a washer that’s from this century (and not every one does, and that’s ok, those 90’s machienes work great too when maintained), it’s most likely not going to be HE and getting a stew consistency won’t be necessary or even possible most of the time.

For modern machenes, a measure method cloth diaper wash routine will be best.

How Do I Know I’ve Made a Diaper Stew?

If you do have an older, manual Non-HE washer, and need to make cloth diaper stew, here’s a quick video showing you what that should look like:

April Duffy

April is the founder of Cloth Diapers for Beginners and author of The Cloth Diaper Wash & Care Handbook. Since 2015, April has helped well over 75,000 parents and caregivers cloth diaper their children through this website, her book, her YouTube Channel, and the Cloth Diapers for Beginners Facebook Group.