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How To Wash Cloth Nappies

The Nappy Lady’s Top Tips for washing nappies

As you can imagine, Cloth Nappies undergo quite a bit of laundering in their lifetime, a good

quality nappy will be washed around 300 times or perhaps more. Washable nappies will spend a lot of in time wet acidic or alkaline solutions, they go through high wash temperatures and may be tumble dried from time to time. All of these things will all take their toll and can shorten the lifespan of your nappies.

The instructions below are a general set of washing instructions; you must always check the care label on your nappies before you use them because the manufacturer will have tested different washing scenarios. To get the most out of your cloth nappies follow The Nappy Lady’s guide to washing cloth nappies and extend the life of your nappies.


  • ALWAYS follow the wash care instructions on the manufacturer’s label.

  • Soak your nappies for 24 hours in cold water only, to kick start your nappies absorbency and then pop them through a normal wash and they will be good to go!

  • ALWAYS Fold back the hook and loop laundry tab’s otherwise they will damage your nappies in the wash. Unfolded laundry tabs are a major cause of fabric balding so please, please use them.

  • Use a one-way liner if you are using barrier creams. This will protect your baby’s bottom by keeping it dry and it will protect your nappy from residue. It won't keep it out 100% but it will prevent it from building up.

  • Liners can help prevent your nappies from staining especially from the dreaded bright yellow breastfed poo! It also makes getting rid of poo easier, not to be underestimated.

  • If you are not using a liner get as much poo off the nappies as you can before putting them into the nappy bucket by sluicing i.e. holding in the flush of the toilet.

  • Use non-biological powders as they are better for both baby and the environment. There is also an enzyme present in some bio detergents, which is corrosive to bamboo fiber and cotton. It works by digesting the stains out of your nappies but unfortunately takes the fabric with it! From the supermarket, I suggest liquid or anything that you find currently works best with your clothes. I personally look for more earth friendly choices.

  • Line-dry whenever you can. Not only will sunlight bleach stains out of your nappies but the UV radiation will help kill bacteria too.

  • Some brands say you can tumble dry the nappies on a cool setting if needed but buy some pegs and save your pennies unless it is the middle of winter, then save your sanity.

  • If your nappies are smelly or if you have been using a lot of nappy creams and notice that they are not as absorbent as what they were before, you may need to strip wash your nappy.

  • if you continuously use nappy creams, I suggest that you wash your nappies in a warm / hot wash.

  • If you don’t have laundry liquid, you can hot soak (60 degrees but check with manufacturer) using laundry powder, but this won’t be as effective as using the liquid.

Do not's

  • IMPORTANT: Barrier creams, oils and bottom balms will coat the fibers in your nappy reducing their absorbency and will cause them to leak. When using a barrier cream you must always use a liner but this does not guarantee that your nappies will not suffer from a build up. If you notice your nappies begin to leak or liquid just runs across the top and does not get absorbed, you will need to strip the nappies. Check out my website for more information.

  • Don’t leave them for more than 2 days before washing if you want to reduce the chance of nappies staying stained or getting really smelly. Daily washing is best for the nappies.

  • Don’t use fabric softeners as this leaves a residue, which coats the fabric fibers and decreases the absorbency of the nappy.

  • Don’t soak your nappies in harsh stain removers. If you do have a pile of very stinky nappies and want to soak, use either water or a mild solution of your washing liquid and only soak for a short period of time.

  • Don’t use bleach or other harsh stain removers. They will shorten the lifespan of your nappies and will void your guarantee.

  • Don’t use pastes of wash powder and apply direct to stains, this is too concentrated.

  • Don’t wash your nappies in dishwasher tabs!!

  • Don’t boil wash. If you are worried about bacteria, leave your nappies in bright sunlight, even a frost in winter-time is fantastic.

  • Don't use Bicarbonate of Soda and Vinegar to wash your nappies as it can dissolve cotton and bamboo fibers. Whilst a lot of nappy websites recommend using them to sanitize and soften nappies they will drastically shorten their lifespan and render some guarantee’s void.

A final note:

I have seen some very sad over laundered nappies and it just amazes me what some people do to them to keep them white or stain free. Repeat after me “Whiter than white simply ain’t right”! The nappies are there to catch waste and over time they may become stained.

Also they are a fabric garment so eventually they will wear out - they will not last forever!

If you have any questions about the nappies, contact the Nappy Lady via Face Book or

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