How to wash Cloth Nappies

How to wash cloth nappies – this is probably the first thing I get asked!

I love love love talking abut cloth nappies! Sad I know but it is probably one of the things I feel most passionate about especially now we are working towards zero waste and knowing what I know about the effects of disposables on landfill.

I have decided to run posts along side videos topics for easy referencing and so you will be able to reference to this at any time.Lets just get right into it all!.

CLOTH DIAPERS,cloth nappies, how to use cloth nappies

Washing cloth nappies is often seen as something that is super hard, time consuming and a lot of effort. Let me tell you now that I am a pretty lazy person. When I first started cloth, I wasn’t working towards zero waste at the time and I did not know much about the effects of them on land fill.

Long gone are the days where we have to boil them over a large pan, and yes someone asked me not so long ago if I boil my nappies when I wash them!!


I know what you are probably thinking..what about the poo? Well I have done a video about it here. But I will write a post about it another time.

1. Load the washing machine

All dirty nappies go in a wet bag/pail. We use one that lines a flip top bin. It is by the brand Planetwise which is elasticated around the top and large like a bin liner. I can’t seem to find it now but they do this one which has a zip so could be hung which will save space. We use smaller ones when out and about.

Once it is full with all your dirty nappies you can go ahead and put all into the machine. You do not need to touch any dirty nappies to do this, just tip the bag into the machine. I use around 5/6 nappies a day and have a very heavy wetting child and so wash every other day sometimes 3 days at a push.

You don’t need a fancy machine or anything that is new. Though I will add our first washing machine was a cheap one. With the amount we used it, the bearings  went after only 4 years. We invested in a direct drive  washing machine by LG. Sometimes when you pay less, you pay twice so its worth investing in a good machine.

2.Rince cycle

Your washing machine ideally should have a rinse cycle and you should do this first. Sometimes machines have  pre wash cycles. You can use this, however on newer machines the water from pre wash cycles can be used again to make things more economical. Where as a normal rinse cycle will rinse out and drain away first.

Also a pre wash can be  a little hotter. This is ok but be mindful that hot water can set stains. If using a fleece liner, this shouldn’t be an issue. Otherwise the sun is the best way to get stains out. Check your machine.

3. The main wash

Generally all cloth nappies can be washed at around the same temperature which is either 40 – 60 degrees centigrade. Some all fabric nappies such as Terry towelling, prefolds, shapped cotton nappies can even go hotter. (Hence the boiling of them)

washing at 60 is essential if the following applies to you

  • You have a baby under 3 months (Very young and still has an immature immune system)
  • Your child is unwell or has had any skin issue or irritations
  • You are using Eco Eggs (I discuss this further below)
  • You have more than 1 child sharing nappies

You can otherwise wash at 40. I do if its a small load.

Our machine has a ‘Baby Wash’ cycle. This cycle includes a pre wash that is drained ,60 degree wash and final rinse.



This is one I feel is down to personal preference. However, studies have been done on this believe it or not by the nappy science gang.  on various detergents and laundry eggs.

As someone who uses laundry eggs for a lot of my washing I feel the need to discuss these first. The findings of the lab tests showed that while it did well on smell, softness etc etc it scored badly on the pathogenic bacteria, which is more likely to cause disease and is most likely from the gut. However the Sainsburys non bio and mio fresh had no colony counts at all.

Getting nappies washed and stripped of as many pathogens as possible is important, this will never be 100% ofcourse but over time these build up. I have chosen to use my eco egg for my normal cloths and lightly soiled washing and normal non bio washing powder for the nappies.

I have to say I just guesstimate my dose of powder, but it is a pretty generous dose! If you live in a hard water area, you can use some soda crystals to soften the water meaning you may not need to use as much detergent.

It is not recommended to use Ecover as this has been known to irritate skin when used with nappies, causes build up  and effect nappies elasticity.

NEVER use softeners as they also coat fibres and affect absorbency. However you can use a clay based softener and these are found in products like Bold 2in1.

4. Final Rinse

At the end of your main wash, you need to do a rinse cycle. This will ensure that there is no detergent left in the nappies. If this builds up over time, the absorbency will be affected as well as the smell! They will start to smell as soon as your child urinates in them. It is like ammonia or some people say its a sort of fish smell. Not pleasant at all! If this happens you will need to strip the nappies. I will do a video/post about this, but if it ever rains hard, stick them on the line! Rain will strip out any nasties!

cloth diapers,cloth nappies, cloth diapers on washing line

5. Drying

I only recently owned a tumble dryer and even so I don’t often use it at all! I don’t use them for nappies now however you can use them. Be mindful of the temperature if you have PUL nappies going in. If you use a 2 part system and nappies that are all fibre then you don’t have to worry.

You can dry your nappies however you like. But be mindful to not put any wraps or wet bags on direct heat incase its melts the PUL.

We have used pretty much every system under the sun but the only one that really works for us are 2 parter systems. These are 100% natural fabric nappies that then require a waterproof wrap. We are currently using Tots Bots Stretchies and as they are all fabric. I can lay them directly on to the radiator. I put as many as I can on there, and if there are more then they go onto our Drysoon Heated Airer

On sunny and dry days, then they all go on the line and I absolutely love the look of them once they are on! However some nappies may dry slower this way so make sure you have enough.

6 Folding away

Unlike normal washing, you don’t have to put these into different piles for ironing, whites, who’s is who’s etc. This bit can be as easy or as hard as you make it!

I know some people who chuck all the nappies in a large basket in the corner, right out of the dryer and take them as and when. Meaning no folding or stuffing. As we use a 2 part system, I pre line them with our fleece liners and thats it. I stack them up and put them away. If you use pockets, you will need to stuff these. I used to love sitting in front of the TV doing this and I know many people who enjoy it. I stopped enjoying it soon enough though, especially as we didn’t even get an hour out of them once worn ( did I mention my 2 heavy wetting boys!)

So I soon went for the 2 parters and thus no stuffing required! I still enjoy folding them up though and love how they look.

I really hope that this helped.

Please feel free to email me any questions you have. it really is simple once your get into it.

Yammy 🙂


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