How to wash reusable nappies

Washing cloth nappies can seem a little daunting to start off with but once you get into the groove it will become a lot clearer. With a good wash routine your nappies will stay sparkling clean and last through multiple children.

If you are finding problems or having trouble with your wash routine please reach out to us, we would love to help!


Prepping new nappies

Before using new nappies on your baby we recommend giving them a warm wash on a normal cycle at 40°-60° MAX with detergent. Line or tumble dry on LOW only. 

Our nappies are absorbent from the get go and will get even better wash after wash.

Washing basics

There are 4 main steps to washing cloth nappies:

  1. Store dirty nappies
    Remove poo into the loo and store in a basket with good air flow, no need to rinse wee. No need to rinse poo if baby is on a milk only diet.
    DO NOT soak nappies.

  2. Prewash
    At the end of each day, wash dirty nappies on a short cycle 30 - 60 mins using half the recommended dose of mainstream detergent at 40° - 60° then store in a clean basket, no need to dry. Repeat this step for 2-3 days.

  3. Mainwash
    Place all previous 2-3 days prewashed nappies into the machine and run the longest cycle 2.5 - 3 hours - usually Cotton/Heavy Duty on 40°- 60° using a full dose of good quality detergent.

  4. Dry
    Line dry nappy covers/shells and wetbags. Line or tumble dry inserts on LOW - MED.
    Once dry your nappies are ready to use again.


Wash routine examples

Once you get started you will start to develop your own routine, if it seems a little overwhelming, don't worry, as soon as you start it will become a lot easier! Here are some examples of washing routines:

Daily Prewash
Each morning, after the night nappy comes off prewash the previous days nappies along with the night nappy. Repeat each day for 2-3 days then Mainwash all nappies. This is a good routine to get into if you are using night nappies.

Back to Back Prewash and Mainwash
Every 2-3 days prewash all nappies and then mainwash straight after. This is a common routine however we do recommend a daily prewash as we have found better results, especially if you are using night nappies.


Washing Tips and Tricks

Here’s a little more detail about washing nappies plus some of our favourite washing tips and tricks.

Dry Pail (aka Diaper Pail / Nappy Bin)
A dry pail is simply a nappy storage solution where dirty nappies are stored without any water (not soaked in a bucket). Your pail doesn’t have to be fancy or expensive. The most important thing is that the nappies have enough airflow to prevent a build-up of humidity and bacteria. Hot tip: Keep two dry pails in the laundry, one for daily drop-offs, and one for nappies that have already been pre-washed. 

Dealing with poo
It’s important to remove the majority of solids prior to your pre-rinse cycle. This ensures that both the cycle and the detergent can be as effective as possible. Mess-free bamboo liners are a great option as they act as a barrier between the poo and the nappy. Alternatively, use a bidet, toilet sprayer, or dedicated rubber brush to remove the poo.

Rubber Brush
Keeping a rubber brush near the toilet or laundry room is a good idea to help remove any extra stuck-on poo. Rubber is easy to rinse and disinfect. This affordable brush is popular with many cloth parents.

Night Nappies
If you use cloth nappies during the night, you’ll notice they’re a bit heavier and smellier than day time nappies. To prevent ammonia build-up, we recommend rinsing as soon as the nappy is changed. This is why our example washing routine includes a pre-wash cycle every morning. Alternatively, you can hand rinse the used night nappy in warm water with detergent, and run a spin-cycle in the washing machine.

Detergent Type
Choosing a detergent choice comes down to your values and what works best for your family. Mainstream detergents offer a more sterile clean while natural/plant-based detergents are kinder on the environment. There are plenty of resources online comparing detergents. This independent report by Choice compares detergent based on effectiveness as well as the brand’s ethical standards. 

Detergent Volume
We recommend using a half serve of detergent for your pre-wash cycle (too much detergent will lead to over-sudsing aka an extra bubbly load). We recommend a full serve of detergent for your main wash to help clean heavily soiled items thoroughly. Follow the instructions on the detergent according to your washing machine size to see what a full serve is. 

Wash Cycle Length
For best results, we recommend ensuring your mainwash cycle is at least 2.5 hours.

Water Temperature: For best results, set both your pre-wash and main wash water temperature between 40-60 degrees. Cloth nappies can be washed in cold water if necessary, however detergents are more effective when used in warm water. Ensure your wash temperature does not exceed 60 degrees as the PUL lining of your cloth nappy covers are heat sensitive, and exposing them to high heats could cause de-lamination. 

Washing only a few nappies
Can you wash cloth nappies with other regular items (like clothes and towels)? Yes you can. This is particularly relevant to families who use fewer nappies and only have a handful to wash at a time (perhaps you use cloth nappies part-time or your child is toilet-training). We recommend hand-washing them first or running them through a pre-wash cycle before adding to a larger load of washing. Be sure to follow our water temperature and wash cycle length guidelines. 

Clothes/Tumble Dryer
You can use a tumble dryer to dry your cloth nappies. Always separate the inserts and covers first. Nappy covers are heat-sensitive so dry on a low temperature until dry (they don’t need long). Inserts can be dried on a medium temperature until fully dry.

Drying Nappy Inserts
Tushie is home to some of the most absorbent nappies on the market, the downside of having really absorbent inserts is that they take longer to dry. 

Here are some insert drying tips:

  • Use a peg hanger to hang inserts. At the end of the day if they’re not quite dry, simply carry them inside for them to dry overnight without having to rehang everything. Put them in the hot water cupboard overnight to finish them or hang close to the ceiling.
  • If your inserts take longer than 1 day to dry, consider adding an additional set of inserts to your stash. This is an economical way to build your cloth nappy supply and take the pressure off your washing turnaround time.
  • To enhance the longevity of the fabric, it’s important to make sure your inserts are 100% dry before putting them away. 


If you are finding problems or having trouble with your wash routine please reach out to us, we would love to help!


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