Washing Cloth Nappies:
Washing Cloth Nappies > Very Simple Washing Method

Very Simple Method For Washing Cloth Nappies


1. A note about washing machines

Top loaders are great for washing cloth nappies!

High efficiency front loading machines are great because they don’t use much water, but they can cause a big problem because of that too. Not using enough water to wash and rinse your nappies can cause serious residue problems. Please see our info sheet on residues for further information.

Set your machine manually to maximum water level to wash your nappies. If this is impossible, call the manufacturer and ask them how to adjust your water level manually. If it is still impossible, use the wet towel trick! Reduce the number of nappies per load and add a wet towel or two to trick the machine into adding more water.

Multiple rinses are not necessary if you are using enough water to wash and rinse your nappies clean.


2. Before You Start Using Your Nappies – Very Important!

Wash nappies in hot water with a small amount of zero residue detergent before first use in order to make them absorbent. If your nappies are made of unbleached cotton, bamboo or hemp, you will need to wash and dry them at least three times to remove natural oils and waxes that will inhibit absorption.

Test your nappies for absorbency before you use them! If your nappies are made of natural fabrics, you can test their absorbency by pouring a small amount of warm water onto the fabric. It should be absorbed immediately. If your nappies have any sort of ‘stay dry’ synthetic layer, you will have to apply light pressure before liquid absorbs. If the water beads on your nappies, they are not ready to use! If your cotton nappies do not absorb properly after 3 washes and your synthetic nappies after 1 wash, please refer back to the previous “note about washing machines”, as you probably need to increase the water level in your washing machine.

Please check the washing instructions for the specific product you have purchased as they may be different!


3. What To Do With Dirty Nappies

Remove nappy and nappy cover from baby. Flush away flushable liner or shake off excess poop into the toilet. If your baby is exclusively breastfed, there is no need to shake excess poop into the toilet as it will wash out easily.

Unfold your nappies to ensure thorough cleaning and remove liners or inserts. Secure velcro type tabs by sticking them to the fold back tabs (on the inside back of the nappy cover or nappy).

Put wet or soiled nappies in a pail or a hanging diaper bag. Dirty nappy covers can be stored with your dirty nappies (never soak them!). Wash every 2-3 days. Polyester nappy covers can be washed with your nappies; nylon and wool nappy covers should be washed separately.


4. Washing Nappies

  • First run a cold pre-wash (or a short cycle with no detergent).
  • Then do a regular wash in hot water (60C/140F max) Do not use a sanitize cycle on any products with velcro type closures or elastic. See detergent information below please!
  • Rinse nappies in lots of water to avoid build-up of detergent, bacteria and urine.
  • Dry in the dryer or outside on a clothesline (check the label of your product, as some products should only be hung to dry). Sunlight is a natural brightener and disinfectant!
  • Once washed, your nappies should not smell like urine or detergent! If they do, chances are you have a residue problem. Please see our info sheet on residues!


5. Detergent

We recommend using a zero residue detergent! If you have a top loader, you can use the full recommended amount of a zero residue detergent. If you have a front loader or HE machine, stick to the lower end of the recommended amount of detergent.

If you are using anything other than a zero residue detergent, use maximum half of what the detergent package tells you to use and one quarter of the recommended amount if you have a front loader or HE machine.

Choose a detergent that does not contain any of the following additives, as they can create residue problems. Detergent residue will lead to leaking, absorbency issues and stinky covers.

  • Fabric softeners
  • Natural oils
  • Perfumes
  • Dyes
  • UV brighteners
  • Stain guard ingredients
  • Enzymes (they will not affect performance, but may cause rashes on some babies’ skin)

Please be cautious about using vinegar and/or baking soda, as they can together or individually cause problems with some nappy products. We recommend that you do not use either of these unless specifically suggested by the manufacturer of your nappy or nappy cover.

A bleach alternative can be used on an occasional basis for stain removal. It should contain no ingredients beyond sodium carbonate or sodium percarbonate.