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How to wash reusable nappies

Thinking about ditching disposable nappies for an eco-friendly alternative? Here is all you need to know about washing reusable nappies.

By Laura Cooke | Last updated Oct 19, 2023

baby in cloth nappy

Eco-friendly reusable nappies are becoming an increasingly popular choice among parents. 

Not only do they reduce environmental impact, but investing in the best reusable nappies can also save money in the long run. 

However, proper care and washing techniques are essential to ensure that reusable nappies remain effective, hygienic, and comfortable for your little one. From storage to stain removal, here is Mumsnet’s guide to washing reusable nappies.

How to store dirty reusable nappies

Bambino Mio Nappy Bucket

Before you start washing, establish a designated area for storing soiled nappies. Using a nappy bin with a lid will prevent unpleasant smells from escaping. You can also use a reusable liner to make cleaning up just that little bit easier. Just make sure that any dirty nappies aren’t left in the bin for too long to prevent stains from setting in.

And a word to the wise - don’t forget to take a waterproof storage bag with you when out and about. Empty the bag and rinse the nappies as soon as you are able to.

Read next: Best changing bags: the stylish and practical bags Mumsnetters love 

How to wash reusable nappies

After removing the nappy, give it a quick rinse with cold water to remove any wee or poo. Then pop the nappy into your washing machine and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for washing. Make sure you choose a laundry detergent that is specifically formulated for cloth nappies and avoid using fabric softeners, as they can reduce the absorbency of the nappies.

How to dry reusable nappies

A picture of clothes drying on an airer.

If the weather allows, line drying is the gentlest option and helps to preserve the longevity of the nappies. But of course we never know what the good old British weather has in store for us.

Some reusable nappies can be tumble dried on a low heat setting, while others need to be air dried. A heated airer can help this process along. It’s vital that you read and follow the instructions on the care label, otherwise you risk damaging the nappy. And it pretty much goes without saying that you must make sure nappies are completely dry before using them again.

Read next: Best tumble dryers 2023: heat pump and condenser dryers for every budget 

Getting rid of stains in reusable nappies

If the weather allows outdoor drying, sunlight is a great natural stain remover. Hanging stained nappies in direct sunlight will fade the stains. Alternatively, invest in a quality stain remover specifically designed for reusable nappies if required.

Read next: Best rotary washing lines: outdoor clothes dryers for fresh, clean-smelling laundry 

How to avoid common mistakes when washing reusable nappies

There are several common mistakes that you should try to avoid when washing reusable nappies.

  1. Overloading the washing machine: Avoid overcrowding the washing machine, as this can prevent proper agitation and rinsing. And of course the same goes for washing clothes.

  2. Using harsh detergents: Make sure you choose detergents that are free of fragrances, enzymes and any harsh chemicals that may irritate your baby's sensitive skin. The same goes for babygrows and bedding.

  3. Not picking the right nappy cream: There’s a misconception that you can’t use nappy rash cream alongside reusable nappies. Nappy creams can be used with reusable nappies, but you have to make sure you pick the right one. Some nappy creams are not recommended to be used with reusable nappies due to their composition and how they form a waterproof barrier, which is not what you need in a reusable nappy. Always check the label first.

  4. Not following the care instructions: Always, always, always follow the label! Different brands of nappies may have specific care instructions. Always refer to the manufacturer's guidelines for the best washing practices.

Read next: 9 best washing machines to buy in 2023 as recommended by families 

Baby laughing at camera

Washing reusable nappies might seem like a daunting task, but with the right routine, it can become a seamless part of your parenting journey. By following these steps, you'll ensure that your nappies remain clean, effective, and gentle on your baby's delicate skin. Embracing reusable nappies not only reduces your environmental footprint but also contributes to a sustainable and eco-friendly lifestyle for your family. 

Want to find out how to get the best out of your laundry routine? Check out our guide on How to do laundry: a step-by-step guide to fresh, clean clothes

About the author

Laura Cooke is a Content Editor at Mumsnet, with a special focus on home care content. She writes buyer's guides, cleaning and laundry articles, and tests products out in her family home to help our readers make informed choices when it comes to parting with their pennies. She is a mum of two and lives in Sussex.