Cloth Nappies: Storing, Washing & Drying

There are tonnes of conflicting views on how to care for cloth nappies. I’ve collated advise from experts and retailers into this useful guide to help you make the right decisions when caring for your reusable nappies.

how to clean your cloth nappies infographic

Storing Your Cloth Nappies

Storing Dry Reusable Nappies

Dry nappies can be stored in any way that you find convenient. We use a basket with two sections (from Ikea) keeping nappies and wraps in one side and inserts in the other side. We then have a separate basket for wipes, muslins, and bibs.

Here is some inspiration for your cloth nappy storage:

Cloth nappy storage
A great way to store and organise your nappy stash on the wall (out of reach)
cloth nappy trolly
Handle trolley that can be organised in a way that suits you best.

Storing Wet/Dirty Cloth Nappies

There are many conflicting opinions on the web about how to store dirty nappies, the main conflict of interest is whether or not to rinse the nappies before storing them.

Should You Rinse Your Nappies Prior To Storing?

I have never rinsed nappies before storing them, neither have i ever felt like I needed to.

If you wash your nappies regularly and they aren’t left to sit in the bucket for more than 2 days, I don’t think it is necessary to rinse them. In my mind, it just wastes time, water, and energy.

If you have a dirty nappy (poop) then its best to rinse of the poop before storing them as this could lead to stinks and stains as well as a bit of a mess in your nappy storage.

Scrape messes into the toilet and give the nappy a hose down with the showerhead or under a tap.

Should You Soak Your Cloth Nappies or Store Them Dry?

This is entirely up to you, but I find it easier to store the nappies dry! It has been said that soaking nappies for too long can damage them but whether or not this is a myth – I don’t know!

I always tell people to do what they can. If soaking seems like too much effort, just don’t do it. There’s no definite way to do things, it’s just a case of doing what works for you.

Storage Accessories for Cloth Nappies

There are a lot of cloth nappy storage accessories out there, mostly sold by retailers or reusable nappies. Again, don’t feel like you need to use this stuff – if you have something at home already that would do the trick there’s no point buying new things.

1. Nappy Bin/Bucket

Nappy buckets are the perfect storage companion for dirty nappies. With an airtight lid, you won’t notice any smells from dirty nappies.

cloth nappy bin

2. Laundry Bag

A laundry bag goes inside your nappy bucket/bin and makes it simple to transfer your nappies into the washing machine – keeps your hands clean too! These are definitely optional though.

cloth nappy laundry bag

3. Storage Bag

Storage bags are essential for when you are out and about. Most have two pockets so you can keep dirty nappies in one pocket and clean ones in another. You could also use them as an alternative to a nappy bin/bucket as the bag can be washed with the nappies.

storage bag

Washing Your Cloth Nappies

Preparing Your Nappies for Washing

Before you wash your nappies there are a few things you need to do to prepare them.

  1. Rinse off the poop

    If you use reusable liners you can easily scrape them off into the toilet or rinse them in your shower or bath. Otherwise, you can do the same with the whole nappy.
    This makes your nappies easier to wash, though it’s not always completely necessary – especially if you’ve got a really good washing machine.

  2. Fold over any velcro tabs

    Fold over any velcro tabs on your nappies or wraps. If your velcro snags on your nappies in the cycle they can easily get damaged.

  3. Remove inserts

    For a thorough clean, it’s advised that you remove inserts from your nappies. It’s easiest to do this as soon as the nappy is taken off your baby as then you don’t have to handle loads of stinky nappies before washing them.

Do You Need To Prewash Cloth Nappies?

If you are rinsing the poop from your nappies into the toilet, shower… you really don’t need to prewash your nappies too. Stick to a long wash and then if you feel your nappies need an extra cleanse, run an additional short wash without detergent afterwards.

The Best Way To Wash Your Nappies

So, your nappies are all tucked up in your washing machine and they’re ready to turn into clean bundles for you to put onto your babies bottom. What sort of wash do you need to do?

Most brands of cloth nappies recommend washing at 60 degrees Celsius, or 40 degrees if you prefer. If your baby has a tummy bug or you think your nappies need a deeper clean, it’s best to wash at 60.

A lot of modern washing machines have a baby hygiene or baby setting that operates at 60 degrees and runs for up to 2 hours. This is the best setting for your cloth nappies and will do a great job at keeping them clean.

Drying Your Cloth Nappies

Now that you have your sparkling, stink-free nappies its time to get them dry.

  1. Line is Best
    Line drying is always the optimal drying technique for cloth nappies. The combination of the fast air drying and bleaching element from the sun keep your nappies in tip-top condition.

  2. Tumble Drying
    If you live in a country where line drying isn’t always an option, like the UK, you may be thinking of tumble drying your cloth nappies. Whilst it is definitely okay for you to tumble dry inserts and nappies that have no PUL (like these little lamb nappies) you should never tumble dry your all-in-one nappies or nappy wraps.

    Tumble drying your nappies can damage the PUL on your nappies and cause them to leak. Only tumble dry your inserts. .

  3. Radiator Drying
    As with using a radiator to dry your nappies. Follow the advice above in the Tumble Drying section.

    You can dry your inserts on the radiator. Do not use a radiator to dry your nappies and wraps and direct heat can damage the PUL on your nappies.

Smelly Nappies? Strip Wash

Got a funky smell coming from your nappies, even after washing them? It’s time to do a strip wash.

Modern detergents are strong and can build up in your washing if you use even a little too much. When washing detergent builds up in your cloth nappies, they don’t clean effectively and the stinks are retained.

To strip wash your nappies, wash your nappies as you usually would, then run another wash but without detergent. Do this until the water in the machine is clear and free of bubbles.

Never use bleach to clean your nappies. Not only can this damage your nappies, but it is also not a chemical you want near your babies bottom.

Caring for your cloth nappies doesn’t have to be hard. Just as long as you follow the basic rules, there’s no need for much else. Most importantly, do what you can.



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