Cloth Nappy Washing Tips & Tricks

Here’s a little more detail about washing nappies plus some of our favourite washing tips and tricks.

Dry Pail (aka Diaper Pail / Nappy Bin): A dry pail is simply a nappy storage solution where dirty nappies are stored without any water (not soaked in a bucket). Your pail doesn’t have to be fancy or expensive. The most important thing is that the nappies have enough airflow to prevent a build-up of humidity and bacteria. Hot tip: Keep two dry pails in the laundry, one for daily drop-offs, and one for nappies that have already been pre-washed. 

Removing Solids: It’s important to remove the majority of solids prior to your pre-rinse cycle. This ensures that both the cycle and the detergent can be as effective as possible. Mess-free bamboo liners are a great option as they act as a barrier between the poo and the nappy. Alternatively, use a bidet, toilet sprayer, or dedicated rubber brush to remove the poo.

Rubber Brush: Keeping a rubber brush near the toilet or laundry room is a good idea to help remove any extra stuck-on poo. Rubber is easy to rinse and disinfect. This affordable brush is popular with many parents.

Night Nappies: If you use cloth nappies during the night, you’ll notice they’re a bit heavier and smellier than day time nappies. To prevent ammonia build-up, we recommend rinsing as soon as the nappy is changed. This is why our example washing routine includes a pre-wash cycle every morning. Alternatively, you can hand rinse the used night nappy in warm water with detergent, and run a spin-cycle in the washing machine.

Detergent Type: Choosing a detergent choice comes down to your values and what works best for your family. Mainstream detergents offer a more sterile clean while natural/plant-based detergents are kinder on the environment. There are plenty of resources online comparing detergents. This independent report by Choice compares detergent based on effectiveness as well as the brand’s ethical standards. 

Detergent Volume: We recommend using a half serve of detergent for your pre-wash cycle (too much detergent will lead to over-sudsing aka an extra bubby load). We recommend a full serve of detergent for your main wash to help clean heavily soiled items thoroughly. Follow the instructions on the detergent to see what a full serve is. 

Wash Cycle Length: For best results, choose a long wash cycle for both your pre-wash and main-wash stages. A 3 hours main-wash cycle is recommended.

Water Temperature: For best results, set both your pre-wash and main wash water temperature between 40-60 degrees. Cloth nappies can be washed in cold water if necessary, however detergents are more effective when used in warm water. For EcoNaps cloth nappies, ensure your wash temperature does not exceed 60 degrees as the PUL lining of your cloth nappy covers are heat sensitive, and exposing them to high heats could cause de-lamination. 

Mixed Washing Load: Can you wash cloth nappies with other regular items (like clothes and towels)? Yes you can. This is particularly relevant to families who use fewer nappies and only have a handful to wash at a time (perhaps you use cloth nappies part-time or your child is toilet-training). We recommend hand-washing them first or running them through a pre-wash cycle before adding to a larger load of washing. Be sure to follow our water temperature and wash cycle length guidelines. 

Clothes/Tumble Dryer: You can use a tumble dryer to dry your cloth nappies. Always separate the inserts and covers first. Nappy covers are heat-sensitive so dry on a low temperature until dry (they don’t need long). EcoNaps inserts can be dried on a medium temperature until fully dry.

Drying Nappy Covers: EcoNaps nappy covers are non-absorbent, fast-drying and heat-sensitive. They will dry quickly so their own. If you do need to use a clothes dryer, see instructions under ‘Clothes/Tumble Dryer’ section. 

Drying Nappy Inserts: EcoNaps’ bamboo inserts are extra thirsty making them some of the most absorbent nappies available. The downside of having really absorbent inserts is that they take longer to dry. 

Here are some insert drying tips:

  • Use a peg hanger to hang inserts. At the end of the day if they’re not quite dry, simply carry them inside for them to dry overnight without having to rehang everything. Hot tip: Put them in the hot water cupboard overnight to finish them.  
  • If your inserts take longer than 1 day to dry, consider adding an additional set of inserts to your stash. This is an economical way to build your cloth nappy supply and take the pressure off your washing turnaround time.
  • To enhance the longevity of the fabric, it’s important to make sure your inserts are 100% dry before putting them away. 
  • If you do need to use a clothes dryer, see instructions under ‘Clothes/Tumble Dryer’ section.