A simple guide to washing reusable nappies

Updated: Jun 1

There is a lot of different advice out there for washing nappies. My routine has derived from the advice I received from the UK Nappy Network website. I have continuously tweaked the routine to fit it with our lifestyle, washing machine, drying facilities and nappy selection.

This is the routine I follow to clean our nappies which are a mix of bamboo, hemp, microfibre, all in one, all in two, pocket, shaped and wraps:

Fill the machine ¾ full - much less and my machine shortens the length of the cycle meaning it does not wash for long enough.

Run a rinse cycle - our machine reuses the water from the rinse within the wash cycle, so I run a separate rinse cycle first to ensure the dirty water is removed from the machine.

Add detergent - we use around half a dose of Sainsburys non-bio powder (start with a full dose and adjust as required, if you can still see bubbles or smell detergent at the end of the wash, reduce it a little until you can't, if your nappies don't smell clean, increase it).

Select the longest 60° cycle - for us this is around 2½ hours, which is enough to clean the nappies but not leave any detergent behind (once your baby is 6 months old and if you are only cloth bumming one child you can choose to reduce this to 40° if you wish)

Reduce your spin to 800 - this is plenty to get enough water out without rattling the nappies around too much and damaging them.

Hang to dry - hanging AIOs PUL side down and opening AI2s out allows them to dry faster. Any AIOs with an attached booster we hang by the booster so the weight of it doesn’t damage the PUL.

Top Tips:

  • You can top up your machine with tea towels, baby grows muslins, anything small which can withstand a 60° wash.

  • If your machine is shortening the wash cycle when it starts because of the weight, shorten or remove the spin from your rinse cycle, to leave the nappies wet and heavier.

  • The UK Nappy Network has a fab page on all the dos and don’ts of detergent use.

  • Always check any specific detergent notes on your nappies before washing them, for example, Motherease specifies no detergent with optical brighteners which most non-bios contain.

  • If you can still see bubbles at the end of the wash or your nappies are coming out smelling of detergent, you are either using too much or your wash cycle is too short and you may want to run an extra rinse.

  • Some nappies can be tumble dried on a low heat, personally I don’t take the risk - if you set a fan to blow through the middle of the airer it can reduce the drying time by half.

I hope you have found this helpful, this is just my routine which I’ve adjusted throughout my journey. Every machine, nappy combination, and detergent is different, there is no one way to get your nappies clean, troubleshoot any problems either by messaging me or ask your local library or cloth community group to find the routine which works best for you.

* Posts which include affiliate links may earn the author a small commission, at no extra cost to you, and in some cases may get you a little discount too

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