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How To Clean Reusable Nappies

Updated December 2023

We understand that cleaning cloth nappies can seem like a bit of a minefield.  The Nappy Alliance who are a group of the largest reusable nappy manufacturers and retailers have come together to agree these simple washing instructions which will leave your nappies clean whilst maintaining their longevity.   Our ultimate list of clean nappy FAQ's covers:

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How to clean a dirty reusable nappy

Cleaning reusable nappies isn't complicated. Here's how you clean a dirty reusable nappy as recommended by the Nappy Alliance:

  • Prewash your nappies before use
  • Remove any poo
  • 'Dry pail' nappies in a bucket or strucket without water until washing
  • Rinse before full washing
  • Wash in a full wash cycle
  • Dry without heat if possible - line drying is best

Do I need to Prewash reusable nappies before use

Yes, you do need to prewash Reusable Nappies 3 or 4 times before use as this increases absorbency. Nappy wraps only need to be pre-washed once. You can wash them as part of a mixed wash load at your usual washing temperature (max 40c), no problems at all to save on energy.

How to remove poo from cloth nappies

Sounds gross but it's actually really easy.  Here's how to remove poo from cloth nappies:

  • Under 6 months, poo tends to be runny and water soluble, so will just wash out in the washing machine.
  • If you're using fleece liners or a built in liner with your cloth nappy, hold one other end tightly with the soiled end in the loo. Flush the toilet and the poo will flush away if your baby is over 6 months and has been weaned.
  • If you're using disposable liners, please don't flush. Even though they are biodegradable, they still cause sewer blockages as they take 12 weeks to biodegrade!

Where do you put dirty cloth nappies?

You can put your dirty cloth or reusable nappies in a dry nappy bucket or a Strucket until you have a wash going on. A large wet bag will also work for the same purpose. Take a look at the Cheeky range of wetbags and nappy storage solutions.

Do you need to rinse cloth nappies?

Yes, you need to rinse all cloth nappies before washing, whether they are all-in-one type, two parters or pocket nappies. It's best to run your nappies through a cold rinse cycle before washing. Not a pre-wash as this often uses the same water for the main wash. A rinse cycle rinses and drains the dirtiest water away, so fresh water will be used for the main wash.

Can you put reusable nappies in the washing machine?

Yes, you can put reusable nappies in the washing machine.  Wash your real nappies in a full wash cycle, not a rapid wash and at the manufacturers recommended wash temperature. In the case of Cheeky Doodoo bamboo nappies, that's 40c.

What's the best washing powder for cloth nappies?

The best washing powder for cloth or reusable nappies is non-bio as it's also kind on delicate skin. Bio detergent can also be used for tough stains, although it can sometimes impact the longevity of your nappies.  Powder detergent is best, avoiding washing capsules or liquid which can leave a residue on nappies. It's fine to use oxygen based stain removers on heavily soiled nappies too.

Don't be tempted to add fabric softener, this can impact the absorbency of your nappies over time.

DO NOT be tempted to wash your cloth nappies with chlorine or household bleach to any nappy wash, no matter what you read online, it isn't necessary and will damage your nappies and invalidate your warranty.

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Can you put cloth nappies in the dryer?

Yes, you can put cloth nappies in the dryer and tumble dry on low heat if essential. High direct heat can damage your nappies, so only use tumble driers if you have this low heat setting.  

Wraps shouldn't be tumble dried.

However the best way to dry your nappies is on the clothes line which has the added benefit of 'sunning out' any lingering stains. Not that this is an issue with Cheeky Doodoo as our nappies are coloured grey!

It's not always practical to line dry in winter. Some people have recommended a dehumidifier and airer in one room which is much cheaper than a tumble dryer and has no direct heat.

'Very pleased with the nappy. Stay soft even after several washes. Good absorbency and good fit in my baby.' Viktorija, product review

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Can You Wash Reusable Nappies With Clothes? 

Yes you can wash real nappies with other clothes.  If you think about it logically, baby clothing from newborn to potty training is also covered in puke, pee and poo, so washing your nappies alongside makes no odds and you will have rinsed the nappies already. Just wash at the temperature specified by your nappy manufacturer, 40c for all Cheeky Doodoo nappies. See our Cheeky Doodoo Nappy washing guide for more details.

We hope that helps answer any questions you have about washing reusable nappies. We've got lots more information to help you make the switch to reusable nappies:

Lastly, our blog has more articles all about reusable nappies, however if you have any more questions, please feel free to contact us.  The team are experts in cloth nappies and love to chat pee and poo!




About the author:  Helen Rankin is the founder of Cheeky Wipes and used cloth nappies with her 4 children over a period of 10 years!  She launched Cheeky Doodoo nappies after customers asked for Cheeky Nappies and worked with designer Penny Broderick to develop the range super absorbent, slim fitting nappies. 

The company won a Queens Award for Enterprise in the sustainable development category in 2021 in recognition of their work bringing 'Simple Reusables' to the UK since 2008.