How do I wash cloth nappies?

Had a browse, hung out in groups and seen a dozen different recommendations?

We know the feeling! So, why is that? Well, the short story is that there are no fixed washing instructions because no single machine behaves the exact same way in every household ?‍♀️

Ugh ? Right?! You see, every single machine behaves different in each and every water hardness with each and every powder. So it’d be nigh on impossible to standardise the washing advice.

Here’s what we do know:

  • manufacturers advise to use non bio powder
  • bio washes better than non bio (another debate for another day)
  • absolutely no softener
  • nappies are the dirtiest thing you’ll ever wash
  • the longest cycle you can find on your machine is needed

So where does this leave you? Well, our washing advice for our hire kits has a step by step guide that allows for some troubleshooting to figure the exact routine for you. Here’s what we advise:

  1. Remove as much surplus poop as you can (it may be easier to do this as you go with each nappy before you pop it in your bag/bucket)
  2. Cold rinse, no powder
  3. LONGEST cycle you can find; usually a cottons wash, with extra water if that’s an option (especially if your machine is an eco one)
  4. FULL dose of powder as per instructions on the box; so if it says X amount, plus Y if soiled, plus Z if full load = ALL of it!
  5. ONLY rinse if there are still suds at the end of your wash and next time reduce the powder until you no longer need a rinse.

Load size?! Full enough to agitate, not so much that they can’t move, or so little that they bypass each other. If you can put your hand in the top of the load and gently press down enough to create a gap at the top of the drum, you’re about there. We have a handy video in our community group The PoD Community Support Group that shows more detail on loading your machine and preparing your nappies. Head on over…

Finally, it is important to clarify that all manufacturers have their own wash guidelines and going against them will void your warranty. We feel it is important to feel fully informed in your decision. We advise bio powder in our own wash routine simply because of the science behind it washing better, and that we have a different insurance as a library. If your manufacturer advises no bio, then we would encourage to follow it if you need your warranty.

Our Nappy Library washing instructions:

As we run a nappy library, we do have a washing routine that we ask our users to follow. This is to support our own insurance, and because it’s been pretty successful for us for the last 5 years! That said, it may need a little tweaking so do get in touch if you have any issue. We recommend following the above with these added details:

* Wash with POWDERS only. We have powders that are generally considered amongst libraries, to wash better. These include Ariel, Persil, Asda tropical, Bold 2 in 1, and most non-bio’s (there are more) but it is important to be fully informed that use of bio powders may void your warranties if you purchase your own nappies new.

*Strictly no liquids, no softeners or eco powders (such as ecover, Bio D, Miocare as these contain soap). These add a ‘coating’ to the nappies, which affects their absorbency and creates a build up.

*Only rinse if there are still suds at the very end of the wash cycle. If there are, next time reduce the amount of powder slightly until you no longer have suds, and do not need a rinse.

* Air dry, but not directly on the radiators. Some nappies indicate on the labels they can be tumble dried, see each nappy’s label.

This is a list of strict no-no’s and use of them will void your hire agreement with us, as well as the above mentioned no-no’s:

This list of things to avoid with cloth nappies is taken from manufacturers’ and retailers’ websites.

  • Detergents with “cellulase” in the ingredients
  • Vinegar
  • Calgon
  • Any fabric conditioner
  • Bleach (apart from where listed as safe)
  • Napisan
  • “Vanish” and other harsh stain removers
  • Oxy-action stain removers
  • bumGenius/Cotton Babies specifically say, “Use non-bio washing powder which does not contacting any perfumes, dyes, whiteners, brighteners or enzymes” (It is possible that your warranty could be void if your nappies prematurely degrade and you are found to be using a harsh detergent or something else on the “DO NOT USE” list)

We are also asked very often about nappy creams. The UK Cloth Nappy Network lists the following as cloth nappy friendly as long as they are used sparingly and rubbed in well:

  • Angel Baby Botty Balm
  • Arbonne Baby range of products
  • Badger Balm (questionable)
  • Balmy Notions
  • Bio Baby Eco Spray
  • Breastmilk
  • Burt Bees (questionable)
  • California Baby Diaper Rash Cream
  • Chamomile tea (NOT chamomile essential oils)
  • Cavilon (cream or spray)
  • CJ’s BUTTer (all variants including tubs, tubes and spritz)
  • Coconut oil (solid or cold pressed)
  • Eco Sprout Bum Salve
  • Lanisoh
  • Little Violet’s Baby Balm
  • Neal’s Yards Baby CREAM (NOT baby balm)
  • Punkin Butt
  • Purepotions Lav Salve
  • Sheepish Grins Bottom Balm
  • Thirsties Booty Love
  • Waitrose Bottom Butter
  • Weleda Baby

When you hire a kit from us, you sign an agreement which includes information on the washing instructions. It is important that these are followed as not doing so will result in a breach, and may incur costs to repair them. As a library, we have a level of care and hygiene expected that may not be as you prefer in your own home. As our nappies are loaned out to multiple users, it is important that you trust the depth in which our nappies are cared for. In order to help more baby bottoms into fluff, we trust that you follow our guidance and contact us if there are any issues.

For information on how to fit a cloth nappy, see our leaflet here.


Nappy Demonstration

Still feeling confused? A face to face demonstration often helps & includes one weeks hire.

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We reinvest all profits to support parents and children across our city. We appreciate every sale, which is personally packaged and lovingly sent!

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Call us on 07368450874

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The PoD, Liversage Street, Castleward Boulevard, DE1 2LH

Cariad Babi Ltd. All rights reserved. Reg 12331130