If you have bought your nappies new wash them, with any boosters or inserts,  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 brand new nappies on as low a temperature as you can and do not use any powder or detergent for this pre-wash and definitely NO SOFTENER!    You do not need to dry them in between washes.   

New PUL nappy wraps can be washed just once before use and should NEVER be soaked. 

Please remember we cannot refund or exchange washed products.  So if you purchased a large number of nappies wash and try just a few in the first instance, particularly if you are unsure.  

YOUR DIRTY NAPPY – to soak or not to soak? 

Not soaking – You do not have to soak your nappies.  When you take off a wet nappy take out any inserts and fold down any Velcro onto the laundry tabs or do the velcro up on itself and turn it inside out, and the put the whole nappy inside the storage bag or bucket. (Mesh bags can be used to line the bucket, this makes putting the dirty nappies into the washing machine easy and quick and means you don’t have to handle dirty nappies again.)  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 or rinse it quickly by hand as this does help keep stains down) and then place your soiled nappy inside the bucket or storage bag. Leave until you have enough nappies for a wash (normally between 15 to 18 but this varies depending on the size of your nappies and the size of your washing machine drum).  Do not over fill your machine drum,  or the nappies will not get a good wash, ideally the drum should be 3/4 full of washing and you should have a small space above the load inside the drum.   If you are not soaking your nappies then your bucket will not smell, sometimes there is a smell of ammonia when you lift the lid, but you can put a couple of drops of tea tree or lavender oil on a paper liner at the bottom of your bucket if you are worried about smells, tea tree oil is a powerful natural antiseptic and does helps avoid nasty smells! 

Soaking – We DO NOT recommend soaking nappies,  but if you would prefer to soak your nappies occasionally,  you would, as above, place soiled and wet nappies into the mesh bag inside the bucket.  The bucket should be filled with only plain water.  Never soak with harsh stain removers, bleach, napisan, vinegar or bicarbonate of soda as these can damage the nappy’s fabric, bamboo in particular.  You should not leave the water in the bucket for more than 1 day, you should never leave PUL wraps in to soak at all, and this includes nappies with PUL shells attached to them, like Bumgenius Freetime, Totsbots Easyfit Star or other all in one or pocket nappies.  Soaking will not really get your nappies any cleaner, is quite a bit of extra work as you have to get rid of the dirty water each day and the bucket gets quite smelly,  so in my opinion you are always better to dry pail.  And please be aware that if you soak with any harsh chemicals the nappy manufacturers guarantee will be invalid.


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).  Most manufacturers’ now recommend you wash at 40°, but to make sure your nappies are completely sanitized you should wash at 60° (washing at  60° will kill of any microbes that may be lurking there) You can wash at 40° once your baby is a bit older, if you are only washing wet rather than soiled nappies (not sure that will happen very often if at all!) 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. Wash at 60° for newborns under 3 months, when you are washing nappies from more than one child or if your baby has very sensitive skin or anyone in your family is unwell. 

Start off with a rinse cycle with no detergent, and this can be a cold rinse if you have that option on your machine.  Then run a regular wash cycle at between 40° to 60°.  A rinse cycle is better than using prewash, as most modern machines re-use the water from a prewash cycle in the main wash cycle,  and with nappies it is better to be rid of the rinse water as it will be full of urine!   If you do not have a full load you can wash nappies with other colourfast clothes, bedding or towels.  Run the rinse cycle with just the nappies and then add the other items and the detergent at the washing stage.  If your machine has the option to ‘water plus’ definitely use this, nappies need lots of water to clean them effectively.   Eco balls are not recommended for washable nappies; they do not get the nappies clean enough and can damage the nappy fibres because of the agitation.  I had a customer with threadbare bamboo nappies after 6 months of using eco balls.  


Use non-biological washing powder (check it does not contain bleach).   You can also use a special powder designed for cloth nappies like Rockin Green or Totsbots Potion Powder,  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) Your nappies should not smell of anything once they have been washed.  If they smell of washing powder you are using too much.  If you want to add lavender oil or tea tree oil to the final rinse water you can do, but just a few drops.


The best option is to line dry outside.  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 freetime or totsbots 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.  You can tumble dry for the first 10 or last 10 minutes of drying time if you want to soften your nappies a bit.


  • Don’t use fabric condition, it reduces absorbency by coating the fabric and therefore increases leaks
  • Don’t soak your nappies in anything other than plain water
  • Don’t use a nappy sanitizer when washing your wraps.
  • Don’t wash or dry your wraps at high temperatures. Nothing over 60° 
  • 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, 1/3 – 1/4 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 baby’s nappies begin to smell strongly of ammonia when wet!  Strip washing your nappies 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.

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