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How To Store Dirty Reusable Nappies

The main reasons that we hear from parents for not using reusable nappies is that they don't want loads of extra washing and drying and are unsure where to store dirty nappies.

However having cloth nappied 4 children, I can absolutely guarantee you that it's not that much additional work you just need to be a little bit organised.  Here we cover some of the questions which come up most often regarding reusable nappy storage and laundry:


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How to store dirty reusable nappies:

  • Wet diapers or nappies are easy. Just take it off your baby and pop it in your nappy bucket, diaper pail, diaper bag or pail liner. There's no need to soak the nappy in water, this is known as 'Dry-pailing'
  • For a dirty nappy, just shake the poo off the nappy into the toilet
  • If it's a squishy poo, hold the end of the fleece liner (or top layer of your nappy) and put the other end in the toilet and then flush
  • The running flushing water will wash off the worst of the poo
  • If it's a REALLY mucky nappy and you're close to your shower, then use the shower to 'power-hose' the poo off


How long can dirty cloth diapers be stored?

You can store dirty cloth diapers for a maximum of 3 days until wash day, however ideally you would wash on alternate days, when you've got a nappy bin full. Pocket nappies should have the inserts removed for better washing.

Can you wash reusable nappies at 40c?

Yes, you can wash reusable nappies at 40c. It's worthwhile to do a COLD rinse wash first. By rinsing them in cold water, you're stopping the stains from being set by the warmer water and washing away any solids (poo) from your washing machine.

Our Cheeky bamboo cloth nappies are recommended to be washed at 40c and this should leave them sparkling clean on a long wash cycle.

If your nappy manufacturer allows, you can also wash very soiled diapers at 60 degrees. I try to line dry them in the sun where possible which also helps keep them clean.

Can you wash reusable nappies at 90c?

No, you shouldn't wash reusable nappies at 90c. The ONLY exception to this rule is terry cotton cloth squares which could be washed at 90c, however there is absolutely no reason why you would need to. This is a legacy from decades ago, when washing machines weren't as powerful and efficient as they are nowadays and nappies would need to be boiled to get them clean.

Bamboo nappies should definitely NEVER be washed at 90c.

What detergent should I use to wash cloth nappies?

You should use your normal washing detergent to wash cloth nappies. The nappy alliance recommends non-bio powder only because it can be kinder on baby's sensitive skin. Fabric conditioner should be avoided as it can damage some cloth nappies. As should household bleach. Oxi type cleaning boosters are generally acceptable.

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How to dry cloth nappies

Which brings me to the trickiest part of using cloth nappies - how to dry them?

To dry cloth nappies:

  • Line-drying in the open air is best
  • Indoor airing rack it takes about 24 hours for my nappies to dry like this
  • Indoor airing rack plus dehumidifier - takes 5 or 6 hours
  • Most cloth nappies can be tumble dried, but the manufacturers usually say to avoid repeated tumble drying as it can shorten the life of your nappies. Wraps / covers should never be tumble dried


Getting organised for cloth nappies

Washing and drying your cloth nappies isn't difficult. The difficult part is that you're adding an extra 3 loads of washing per week to your already busy 'to-do' list. So how can you make it easier? The timing of when you wash your cloth nappies makes a big impact and we find this easier to do at night-time.  Here's how to get organised for cloth nappies:

  • Put your nappy wash on every other evening after you've put your little one to bed
  • Then, just before bed (if you're drying indoors) hang the nappies on the airer to dry. That way they're drying overnight while you're tucked up in bed
  • If you're drying outdoors, your nappies will be ready to hang out first thing in the morning, meaning they get all day to dry outside
  • And every other evening, you can fold your dry nappies for use the next day

Easy...or at least not that difficult if you're just a little bit organised. Would love to hear if anyone has any other top-tips to share?

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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.