How to Wash Modern Cloth Nappies

  1. RINSE. Thoroughly after use.
  2.  DRY PAIL. Drop rinsed nappy in a dry pail until a full machine load is ready.
  3.  WASH. Load washing machine, slightly less than a full load for best agitation. Prewash the load using your machine’s rinse or ‘Quick Wash’ cycle then wash as you would for any heavily soiled load with an extra rinse cycle at the end if possible. For both cycles use detergent measure as recommended by the detergent manufacturer for load size and heavy soiling.
  4. DRY. Hang, being mindful not to stretch elastics. Most nappies can be dried on a low heat in an electric dryer, you can hang nappies to air dry and then ‘finish them off’ in the dryer to soften them up.

Recommended detergents for washing cloth nappies

  • Biozet Powder and Liquid Detergents (Supermarket)
  • Coles Smartbuy Liquid or Sensitive Powder (Supermarket)
  • Duo Front & Top Loader Powder (Supermarket)
  • Eco Store Powder (Supermarket) – Vegan, Cruelty Free
  • OMO Sensitive, Powder and Liquid Detergents (Supermarket)
  • Rockin Green Platinum Powder or Liquid Detergent – Vegan, Cruelty Free
  • Trimat Advanced Liquid, Powder or Sensitive Detergents (Aldi)
  • Trinature Pre Wash Soaker (for soaking, also mix with equal parts Trinature Alpha Plus Washing Detergent in main wash for best results) – Vegan, Cruelty Free

We always recommend using the most gentle and effective methods for cleaning soiled cloth nappies and this is generally achieved by rinsing well, using a long warm-hot (but not above 60°C) main wash cycle with prewash and rinse, a good quality detergent in a clean modern washing machine.

As a more hands on walk through on how to wash modern cloth nappies, our personal MCN routine looks like this:

  1. We thoroughly rinse each nappy, spray stains with pre wash stain remover, separate inserts from shells and dry pail in a large wetbag inside a flip top bin. Note. We live in a very cool mostly dry climate with little to no mould worries. (If mould was a concern for us we may instead use a dry pail or basket which allows more airflow),
  2. When we have enough used nappies for just under a full load in our 8kg front loader (about 2.5 days worth) I empty them into the machine, throwing the dirty pail liner in with it all and slam that door shut! If the load is not quite large enough I add a towel, if load is too large then I will exclude the last couple of nappies and put them in the new pail liner for the next wash.
  3. I set the machine to do a ‘Quick Wash’ cycle with a scoop of washing detergent. When that has finished, without opening the door I add another scoop of the detergent then select the ‘Cottons’ cycle with an extra prewash and rinse+ added. This is a 60°C cycle and I reduce the spin speed to 800rpm.
  4. When the washing machine has worked its magic I hang everything in the sun (if it’s out) on a large laundry airer. I personally like the inners to be white without resorting to bleaches or synthetic whiteners – so if there’s room on the airer I will lay with inners flat for a sun bake. See image above.

I try to avoid detergents that contain:

  • Bleaching agents/whiteners or brighteners (these can cause rashes and prematurely age fabric),
  • Enzymes (specifically cellulase as it is an enzyme added to some detergents which works on the fabric rather than the stains. It is added to de-pill, soften and keep fabrics looking new – what it does to fabrics containing organic cotton is de-pill their unprotected fibres right out of existence).

The reason I suggest avoiding detergents containing these compounds is because they wear the organic fibres in our nappies faster, we use organic blends where possible and the less processed the fibres = the less protection they have from harsh compounds. This means you would be reducing the usable lifetime of your nappies, aside from the obvious nappy rash and allergy risks they pose.

Of course, you wash your nappies in whatever you choose! I am just sharing this information based on my RAWr Nappies-specific customer feedback and 13 years of washing cloth nappies in just about every laundry detergent available. My children have had reactions to both laundry detergents and synthetic fabrics. Because of these experiences, RAWr has been built on offering the most gentle fabrics to be worn against baby’s most sensitive skin. So, in line with this vision it makes sense to recommend washing them in sensitive (but effective) detergents that won’t irritate their delicate skin.

Washing cloth nappies is not the same for everyone and may need tweaking from time to time, but it is certainly not difficult. If you find that your nappies are smelly or not getting clean – check you are rinsing them thoroughly before dry pailing, increase the amount of detergent, try a different detergent, increase the water temp (but not above 60) and/or check the size of your load is the right size to achieve the best agitation in the machine.

Remember to rinse after each wear (especially for night nappies) for stain removal, better cleaning and longevity of MCN fabrics… you can even delegate that step to the nappy wearer like we do – here is Leo rinsing his own night nappy in the shower!

Click here to read RAWr Nappies full care instructions (also included with purchase).