A Guide to Washing Nappies

Changing Time

You may decide to use liners in your nappies- either disposable or reusable ones. Disposable liners can be popped in the bin at change time, and reusable ones can be washed alongside your nappies. If you are changing a poopy nappy, the disposable liner should catch the worst of this. A reusable one can be stretched over the toilet bowl to release any solids.

Nappies can then be placed in a bucket or hanging pail bag ready for wash day. Soaking nappies in not necessary or recommended. DO ensure that any hook & loop fastenings are closed before washing- the "Twist & Stick" method will help your nappies looking great.


Loading your machine

If using a bucket lined with a mesh bag, you can simply place the bag and nappies into your machine. Same with a hanging pail- simply undo the bag and shimmy the nappies out into the machine, washing the bag alongside them.

We recommend having your machine no more than 3/4 full. Modern washing machines are designed to have lower water consumption, and as the fibres of your nappies are designed to absorb, having your machine too full will mean that there is just not enough water to effectively clean them.


Rinse Cycle

Always run a cold rinse cycle before your wash. This helps to remove any solids and flushes away urine, and will also help to prevent any stains from setting in. Run a rinse cycle rather than a pre-wash cycle, as this ensures that the water from the rinse is drained and no re-used in the hot wash cycle.


Wash Cycle

Run your hot wash. It is important to follow the manufacturers care guidelines when washing your nappies, and each brand will have it's own temperature guide. As a general rule you will be looking at either a 40° or 60° wash cycle. Use a non-bio powder (not liquid) and NO fabric softener. Use your machines longest wash cycle to ensure a thorough clean.

If your machine has an "extra water" function, do use it. As mentioned above, modern machines are designed to be very water efficient, but this is not a great thing when it comes to washing super absorbent nappies!


Drying Nappies

Nappies can be line dried, dried on an airer or in a tumble drier on a low heat.

Line Drying - this will help to extend the longevity of your nappies over tumble drying, and the sun is a very effective stain remover!

Non-heated airer - ensure the room is well ventilated. These work great for microfibre based nappies and wraps, but more absorbent fibres such as bamboo and hemp will take a long time to dry.

Heated airer - this will help to speed up the drying process, and microfibre nappies can be placed directly on the airer. Nappies made of bambo fibre and waterproof PUL layers should not be placed on direct heat, so consider placing a towel on the rails first.

Tumble Dryer - on a low heat, this is the most time effective way of drying your nappies. But it will also shorten the lifespan of your nappies over time. If you live in a hard water area, your nappies can feel very stiff after line drying, so a quick 10 minute blast in a dryer will help to soften them up.


Indoor Drying Tips:

  • Think about ventilation. It's not always possible, but if you can open a window near your hanging nappies that will help to circulate fresh air and tackle moisture. 
  • If you want those windows to stay firmly closed, a dehumidifer will help to achieve similar results. Just pop one near your drying nappies.
  • Invest in a heated airer. These will really help to speed up drying times - just remember not to place any PUL (the waterproof layer) directly onto the heated rails.
  • Time your laundry. Aim for early morning cycles to maximise the benefit of the suns warmth throughout the day.
  • Use a peg dryer (or 'Socktopus') to peg up your inserts and boosters, and hang as high as possible- ideally above a radiator.



  • Do NOT use fabric softener
  • Eco Balls can be effective for washing nappies (at 60°) for some, but others have not got on well with them.
  • Soap Nuts can be effective for washing nappies for some, but others have not got on well with them.
  • Ecover detergent has a history of leaving heavy residue on cloth nappies and is not recommended
  • Laundry liquid is more prone to leaving residue on fibres and is not recommended
  • Bio detergents that contain the "cellulase" enzyme is not recommended as it can have degrading effects on bamboo and cotton fibres
  • Run a machine maintenence cycle once per month. If your machine is not clean, then your nappies won't be either!
  • Nappies and washable wipes can be washed together. It is a good idea to wash wipes inside a mesh bag to ensure they don't end up in your machines filter!


Nappies smelling after washing?

No one wants stinky nappies. With cloth nappies you don't get that tell-tale wet nappy & chemical combo smell that disposables are infamous for. But every so often, cloth nappy parents will experience an unpleasant ammonia stink. There can be a number of reasons that our nappies suddenly start to make our eyes water:

  • detergent build up
  • chemical ammonia build up
  • ammonia caused by bacteria

Detergent build up

If you have followed our advice above, then detergent build up shouldn't be an issue, but it can happen. Check the rinse cycle in the machine- are there bubbles and suds? If so, then chances are your nappies are not being rinsed effectively. If this is a persistant issue, add an extra rinse cycle to your routine.

To actually solve the build up already present, you will need to strip them. There are 2 ways of doing this that we recommend.

1) after washing, hang your nappies out in the rain and leave them for 24 hours. Rinse them in the machine after bring them in and dry as usual. (this method is particularly suited to British weather!)

2) run a long wash cycle with no detergent, and a couple of extra rinse cycles at the end.

Chemical ammonia build up

This can occur over time where the urine in the dirty nappies converts to ammonia. Because ammonia is not water soluble, washing is not enough to keep on top of the problem. Running a strip wash as above is a good idea, but you will need to look at preventing the

There are some tips to help keep the urine from converting to ammonia:

  • keep the dirty nappies as cool as possible - consider removing any bucket lids, and positioning the bucket/bag in a cooler space with more air circulation
  • give the nappies a quick cold water rinse before placing in the bucket

Bacteria build up

Has your little one just started to eat solids? This can sometimes trigger a change in your nappies as toddler poo is quite different to newborn poo and this added bacteria can cause the ammonia conversion more quickly.

You need to ensure that you nappies are getting cleaned thoroughly.

  • wash as hot as the manufacturer guidelines allow, and if using separate nappies and covers this can help as the temperate you can wash the nappies at will usually be higher.
  • rinsing the nappies before placing the bucket can help
  • disposable liners are an easy way to get rid of as much poo as possible before the wash. When things are more solid, a washable liner can be used and stretched over the toilet bowl to remove it.
  • adding a laundry sanitiser to the wash can help


During the teething stage you might find that the nappies are particularly bad. This is normal. Teething poo can be especially acidic, so it is a good idea to rinse the nappies or liners off before washing. This can be done by holding them in the toilet and flushing. Run a cold rinse cycle on your machine, wash at as high a temperature as the nappies allow (as per manufacturer guidelines) and on the longest setting, and add an extra rinse at the end.