How to wash cloth nappies

Want to know more about how to wash cloth nappies? Read our top tips:

  • When the nappy is dirty put it into a nappy bucket.
  • You can soak your washable nappies if you want to, but most people find it easier just to dry pail their cloth nappies.
  • If your bucket gets a bit smelly then a drop of lavender, tea tree or similar oil on a sanitary towel stuck to the lid. Or on a piece of cloth in the top of the bucket, works wonders.
  • You don’t need to buy a specific nappy bucket. Any large plastic container with a lid will do the job, and will probably be a bit cheaper than a bucket sold as a nappy bucket.
  • Try to wash cloth nappies at least every other day, so that they are not sitting dirty for a long time.
  • Check out our Guarantee page for what not to do.

How to wash cloth nappies

  • It’s not necessary to boil wash cloth nappies. A warm wash should be enough. If you use a nappy sanitiser, you can even wash them on cold.
  • Don’t use fabric conditioner, as this will make your nappies less absorbent, and build up in the fibres.
  • The water in New Zealand is generally fairly soft, so stiff nappies aren’t usually a problem. If you are finding that they dry a bit stiff then give them a bit of a rub before and after you dry them.
  • Use a full scoop of powder to wash cloth nappies.
  • The key thing is to check that all suds are rinsed out when you wash them.
  • In some cases, people find that they need to use a little more powder. Don’t be afraid to experiment and get the right amount for you and your water type.
  • You do not need to buy a special type of washing powder. Avoid those with softeners in them, as these can cause build-ups and smelly nappies.

Dealing with stains

  • If you have any stains on them, particularly the yellow, newborn poo stains, which generally won’t come out in the wash, the best way to clear them is to hang them in the sunshine, it really works!!
  • You shouldn’t need to rub or scrub your nappies in order to get them nice and clean.
  • If you rinse your nappies either before putting them in your nappy bucket, or in the machine before washing, it can help to remove stains, and stop smells from building up.
  • Some stains may take a little longer to come out, but after a few washes they should look nice and clean again.

18 thoughts on “How to wash cloth nappies

  1. I’m just wondering, what do you know when the baby does poos? Just put on some gloves and wash it by hand???

    1. Hi Lily
      When babies are newborn, their poo isn’t really like poo and can be washed away in the machine. It is water soluble. It may leave some yellow stains, but these are easily removed with a bit of sunshine. As your child gets older and starts to eat solid foods, poo changes. When your child reaches this stage then you will want to flush any solids away, you can do this by stretching the nappy over the toilet. Some people prefer to use our flushable liners, which can be flushed away along with any poo. Another option is to use a nappy sprayer that attaches to the cold water supply for your toilet. You use it to spray the nappy and spray away any poo into the toilet bowl before washing.

  2. is it ok to use vinegar or baking soda with the bamboo and hemp products? What does the manufacterer say?

    1. No, vinegar and baking soda can break down bamboo fibres so are not recommended to be used.


    1. Hi,
      I would suggest using your usual powder or liquid. Just make sure that everything is well rinsed out. I don’t have a particular brand that I recommend as different ones work best for different babies. As long as there is not a fabric softener in it, then your usual brand should be fine.

  4. hello can you use lux soap flakes to wash the nappies in?

    1. Hi, no we don’t recommend using lux flakes. You don’t actually need to use anything to soak the nappies in, but a few drops of tea tree oil can work well if you want to use something. Lux flakes can build up in the fibres and will make them less absorbent. Thanks

  5. I dont buy washing powder i make my own it had baking soda in it.. is this not okay to wash my bamboo nappies with?

    1. Personally, I’d be avoiding baking soda if possible. If you do use it, just be aware that it may cause your nappies break down faster.

  6. Heya! What is your recommendation on prepping inserts? I have just purchased and received your pull up cloth nappies and just want to know what you recommend for prepping prior to their first use? Thanks!=)

    1. You can either soak them overnight in cold water or wash them on a normal wash. Thanks

  7. Hi, do you ever strip wash your nappies? Mine are starting to get a bit of a urea smell build up. Any recommendations?

    1. Hi Jill, thanks for getting in touch. When it comes to stripping nappies because of a build up of odours I usually recommend that you add more water to the washing process and soak the nappies in water initially to help with the build-up. There should be more info here:

  8. Hi there, How do you recommend washing the nappy covers?
    Regards Grace

    1. They can be washed with the nappy inserts. You can wash them warm or hot. I wouldn’t recommend soaking them, but they really don’t need that. Thanks

  9. Hello I’m wanting to make the switch to cloth nappies but I’m unsure on how many nappies I will need to start out with?

    1. Hi Holly
      If you are planning to use them day and night then around 20 is a good place to start. If you just want a few to begin with and make the switch slowly, then four or five will be enough to get you started. Thanks

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