Washing Your Nappies

Washing Reusable Nappies


If you have bought your nappies brand new wash them with any boosters 2 or 3 times before you use them, this will remove residues from the manufacturing process and increase absorbency by fluffing up the fibres.   Wash on as low a temperature as you can and do not use any powder or detergent.  You do not need to dry them in between washes 

(If your nappies are cotton or bamboo, for example little lamb bamboo or totsbots bamboozle and are not attached to a waterproof outer layer, you can soak your nappies in a bucket or sink full of water for 12 to 24 hours and then wash through once in your machine)  

Nappy wraps can be washed just once.  Please remember we cannot refund or exchange washed products.  So if in doubt, wash and try one nappy to start with.  

YOUR DIRTY NAPPY - to soak or not to soak? 

Not soaking - You do not have to soak your nappies.  Put a couple of drops of tea tree or lavender oil in the bottom of your bucket; tea tree oil is a powerful natural antiseptic and also helps avoid nasty smells!  When you take off a wet nappy just put the whole nappy inside the mesh bag which is lining the bucket, take out any inserts and fold down any Velcro onto the laundry tabs if necessary.  When you take off a soiled nappy either remove and flush away the disposable liner or shake any solids off the nappy down the toilet (if the nappy itself is very dirty hold it under the flush so it gets wet).  Place your soiled nappy inside the mesh bag which is lining the bucket. Leave until you have enough nappies for a wash (normally between 15 to 18).    

Soaking - if you would prefer to soak your nappies you would, as above, place soiled and wet nappies into the mesh inside the bucket.  The bucket will be filled with either water and a nappy soak solution or water and a few drops of tea tree or lavender oil.  You should not leave the water in the bucket for more than 1 day, you should never leave the wraps in to soak at all,  and this includes the shells on nappies like Bumgenius Freetime, Totsbots Easyfit Star or other all in one or pocket nappies..  Soaking will not get your nappies any cleaner than not soaking and is quite a bit of extra work so in my opinion you are always better to dry pail.


When you are ready to wash your dirty nappies, remove the mesh bag (if you are using one) from the bucket with all the soiled nappies inside and place in the washing machine.  Leave the mesh bag open (so that all the nappies tumble out in the wash). Manufacturers’ recommend you wash at 60° to make sure your nappies are sanitized (i.e. kill of any microbes that may be lurking there). You can wash at 40° some of the time if you prefer particularly if you are only washing wet rather than soiled nappies or are using one of the special nappy detergents like Rockin Green or Totsbots Potion Powder which are both designed to clean nappies and do so very well at lower temperatures.  However you should wash at 60° when;

  • your baby is under 3 months old;
  • has repeated nappy rash;
  • your baby is unwell. 

You can either wash on a long cycle at between 40° to 60, or alternatively rinse on cold with no detergent and then wash at between 40 to 60° on a quicker cycle with detergent.  If you do not have a full load you can wash nappies with other colourfast clothes, bedding or towels. Eco balls are not recommended for washable nappies; they do not get the nappies clean enough and can damage the nappies because of the agitation. 


Use non-biological washing powder (check it does not contain bleach).   You can also use a special powder designed for cloth nappies like or your normal non bio powder, Bio-D,  ECOS and Clearspring are all great too. ECOVER IS NOT RECOMMENDED TO USE WITH CLOTH NAPPIES for some reason ecover causes cloth nappies to smell of ammonia and it is not recommended you wash your nappies with this detergent.  Use only 1/4 - 1/3 of the recommended amount of powder/liquid.  And NEVER use softener as this coats the nappy fabric and gradually reduces absorbency.  (One of the main causes of nappy rash in babies using real nappies is a build up of washing powder residue in the fibres of the nappy – occasionally (every 6 months or so) put your nappies through an extra rinse at the end of the washing cycle without powder) 


The best option is to line dry.  However it is not always sunny and not everyone has access to a garden.  A drying rack works very well. If you dry nappies over a radiator please bear in mind that they may get quite stiff, although you can shake them out a bit to soften them up.  Never dry wraps, outer shells of nappies like bumgenius and totbsots easyfit on a radiator.  Tumble drying on a low heat is another option, environmentally not so great – but fantastic in an emergency.   Tumble-drying will make your nappies feel nice and soft but can shorten their life slightly


  • Don’t use fabric condition, it reduces absorbency by coating the fabric and therefore increases leaks
  • Don’t regularly soak your nappies in chemical sanitizers
  • Don’t use a nappy sanitizer when washing your wraps.
  • Don’t wash or dry your wraps at high temperatures.  Do not dry your wraps on a radiator
  • Don’t stretch the elastic on your nappies and wraps after tumble drying, until they have cooled down as this can lead to the elastic breaking or becoming lax
  • Don’t use too much washing powder when you wash your nappies, ? - ¼ of recommended amount.
  • Don’t use a barrier/nappy rash cream unless you place a paper liner between your baby’s bottom and the nappy.  These creams can affect the absorbency of the nappy by coating it with a waterproof film.


Strip washing means washing all your nappies at a low temperatures with no powder/detergent and running the cycle 2 to 4 times until the water is completely clear and you can see no detergent bubbles in the machine during the wash. You should strip wash your nappies about once a year.  Due to a chemical reaction between the ammonia, detergents and the heat with which the nappies are washed some parents find that their nappies begin to smell strongly when wet!  This usually sorts out the smell in the short term but going forward you should think about reducing the amount of detergent you use on each wash and even run a rinse cycle water only no detergent at the beginning of each wash.


    Washing Accessory Kit                     Rockin Green Detergent           TotsBots Potion Powder