A Complete Guide to Washing Reusable Nappies
Forget the days of nappies soaking in a bucket, followed by fearfully boiling them. Thanks to modern detergents and efficient washing machines, washing cloth nappies these days is wonderfully straightforward: cold rinse, hot wash, line dry, done!
Washing cloth nappies – quick beginners guide
- Store used nappies in a bucket or wet bag – no need to soak. Put any poop down the loo. Pull out inserts or boosters
- Once you are ready to wash, usually every 2-3 days, put all the nappies (put cloth wipes in a mesh bag) in the machine
- Add powdered detergent, use the full dose, either Non Bio or *Bio
- If you wish, add a nappy sanitiser (such as violets mineral bleach)
- Pre wash on cold rinse
- Use a long cotton cycle which is usually between 2-3 hours at 60 degrees. You may find lower temperatures adequate depending on water hardness and efficiency of your machine
- If there are visible bubbles at the end of the wash do an extra rinse
- Hang your nappies out to dry whenever possible, UV is fab for stains!
- Most nappies can be tumble dried but please refer to individual manufacturers guidelines
- Keep your washing machine clean – you can use Violets washing machine ‘clean, refresh and descale’ once a month. Put the empty machine on 90 degrees cotton wash (2-3 hours), then repeat on 30 degrees with nothing added until no bubbles are left
*please be aware that some manufacturers do not recommend Bio and it may affect your warranty.
- Washing liquid
- Adding fabric softener (this will leave a residue and affect the absorbency of your nappies)
- Using heated towel rails or put your nappies on radiators
Washing top tips
A scoop of Violets mineral bleach will add some pizzazz to help remove stains. This hero of the laundry world can also rescue school uniform, reusable period pads, towels – anything that needs a stain sorting. Or, you can try some magic in your wash, with Tots Bots Potion: non-toxic and enzyme-free detergent that is anti-bacterial, allowing you to wash cloth nappies as low as 30 degrees! They also come in a yummy choice of bubblegum or mint humbug, or you can stick to unscented if you don’t have a sweet tooth.
Most detergent will clean your nappies, and there is no need to choose an Eco-detergent if you don’t want to. However they are safe for marine life, they don’t have plastics and other toxins that harm ocean and river life, so are much better for the environment. And, they don’t cover your clothing and washing machine with fragrances that mask smells.
Once the wash has finished, it’s time to enjoy the wonderful sight of freshly washed nappies on your washing line. Fresh air and sunshine are best to keep stains at bay, but don’t worry if you don’t have the space or weather, air drying on a clothes horse is grand, too. A multi-peg sock hanger is fab for your wipes, liners and boosters.
Drying cloth nappies
Generally, it’s best to steer clear of the tumble drier (think of the electricity you’ll save!). But in a time-saving emergency, anything without PUL can be tumbled on a low/cool heat (boosters, prefolds, fitted nappies, wipes).
Drying times differ according to each nappy: bamboo and hemp take the longest, microfibre and milovia inserts are super quick, and terry towelling and prefolds are somewhere in the middle. In the winter, nappies shouldn’t be placed directly onto a radiator. This will affect the PUL and reduce the waterproof quality and lifespan of your nappies. We find putting your clothes airer right next to a radiator can make a huge difference in speeding up the drying time.
Before you know it, you’ll have the timing of washing cloth nappies sorted. Believe us when we say the delight in seeing those wee nappies drying on the line is so compelling, you’ll soon be sharing photos on our Facebook hangout page. There is also something highly satisfying and therapeutic in folding them, too…!
You will find many people advising all kinds of methods to ‘strip wash’ nappies. We believe this shouldn’t be necessary if you start out with a good washing routine. Simply leaving your nappies on the washing line works wonders, without risking damage to your precious nappies. If you do want to find out more we have a simple guide on the ‘Why are my nappies leaking’ blog >HERE<.