A Complete Guide to Washing Reusable Nappies

Washing reusable nappies is easy! Find out more in our washing guide.

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

  1. Store used nappies in a bucket or wet bag – no need to soak. Put any poop down the loo. Pull out inserts or boosters
  2. 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
  3. Add powdered detergent, use the full dose, either Non Bio or *Bio
  4. If you wish, add a nappy sanitiser (such as violets mineral bleach)
  5. Pre wash on cold rinse
  6. 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 
  7. If there are visible bubbles at the end of the wash do an extra rinse
  8. Hang your nappies out to dry whenever possible, UV is fab for stains!
  9. Most nappies can be tumble dried but please refer to individual manufacturers guidelines 
  10. 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.

Freshly washed and prepared Baba & Boo reusable nappies.


  • 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.

Dry your reusable nappies on the washing line.

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.

Cloth nappies drying on the line
Reusable nappies on the washing line – a beautiful sight! Image credit: Hannah Allen

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…!

Strip Wash

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<.

Tots Bots x Frugi reusable nappies. Image credit Sarah Ojar


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8 Responses

  1. April 23, 2018

    […] Looking after your cloth nappies is pretty simple once you know the basic dos and don’ts, and trust me, after a while of using them you’ll find your own way of caring for and maintaining them. It really did seem so complicated when I first begun, but now I do it on autopilot and don’t give it much thought. If you want to know more about how to wash cloth nappies, you can find all the info here. […]

  2. April 23, 2018

    […] This is a common misconception and the answer is no! In fact, people often comment that they smell less than disposables. If your nappies do acquire a smell, it may be down to your wash routine so they may require a little more attention in that department. See our nappy washing guide here. […]

  3. April 23, 2018

    […] Oh yes, babies love to poo! Both breastfed and formula fed babies will still have very soft poo, which you can rinse off in the toilet, though usually it’s fine to go straight in the washing machine. Once babies start eating solid food and doing ‘proper’ poos, you can flick the poo off the paper or fleece liner into a toilet. Nappy buckets can be handy for a quick swill of those delightful teething nappies. You can read our Nappy Washing Guide here […]

  4. April 23, 2018

    […] If the nappy is mostly dry or wet with obvious dry patches and you are happy that it has been fitted snuggly then something could be preventing your nappies from absorbing.  Detergent residue, fabric softeners and nappy creams (especially those containing petroleum) can all clog up your nappies and stop them absorbing properly.  If this is the case, you can un-clog the nappies by giving them a strip-wash (see instructions below) make sure you don’t use any fabric softener in the future and use a fleece liner to prevent any nappy cream from getting on to the nappies. If you aren’t sure about washing cloth nappies you can find our Washing Guide here. […]

  5. May 11, 2018

    […] isn’t needed, it builds up and reduces absorbency. You can find in depth washing guidelines here if you want more […]

  6. September 8, 2018

    […] then rinse wash in washing machine before putting in a 40 or 60 degree wash (you can find a helpful nappy washing guide here). I then rinse wash 2-3 times every couple of washes to remove any washing powder residue. I […]

  7. March 27, 2019

    […] How do I wash reusable nappies? […]

  8. May 2, 2019

    […] – full nappy bucket, so put on a wash. We do a prewash, then full wash at 40 degrees – 5 […]

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