Caring for Cloth Nappies

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Time2Change Real Nappies and Accessories

Nappy Care

During nappy fabric manufacture a substance similar to fabric conditioner is added so the fabric moves smoothly through the looms; this is why you need to prewash new nappies 2 or 3 times before use (without fabric conditioner). Also some fabrics, like hemp have a natural oil in them that needs to be washed out before you see it's true potential.

With modern conveniences combined with fabrics chosen specifically for their ease of cleaning, cloth is not the chore it used to be. Simply empty any solid waste into the toilet and then put the nappy in the bucket. When you are ready to wash, throw them in the washing machine! Nappies only require a 40 degree regular wash, no special powder or work involved, and definitely no boiling!

1. No need to soak (unless you want to). Nappies with Velcro, elastic or waterproof lining should not be soaked (see Fabric Damage below).

Your nappies (once the solids have been dropped off into a toilet) can be stored in a bucket/tub/bag and just put in the wash when you're ready.

2. Fleece liners keep your babies bottom just as dry as a disposable would. Once your baby is weaned, the solids tend to just 'roll' off fleece into the toilet, it washes remarkably well (despite your baby’s best attempts at staining them) and are incredibly cheap.

3. Use ½ the amount of soap powder as you would use with your normal clothes. Your nappies will still be as clean. Excess soap will stay in the nappy and reduces absorption.

4. DON'T use fabric conditioner on your nappies or liners. It coats the fabric and makes them less absorbent. You can use clear distilled vinegar (about 2 tablespoonfuls) in the fabric conditioner compartment to keep your nappies soft, if required (& they don't come out smelling pickled). If you have a tumble dryer a 10 minute blast before or after hanging them on the line will also help soften them.

5. Should any stains appear on your nappies, just stick them out on your washing line in the sunshine and the sun should gently bleach those stains away. If you can lay them flat it is quicker. In the winter a sunny window sill will do.



After removing a nappy, carefully separate the liner from the nappy and cover. Try not to get solids on the cover. Covers are changed when necessary (if soiled or smelly), not at every nappy change. If we they can just be wiped down, aired and reused.


Flush down WC;

Soiled washable liners may need to be sluiced (by holding in WC whilst flushing) before washing.

The liner should catch the soiling, but it may be necessary to deal with soiling on the nappy too and sometimes even the cover.


Soiled covers should be rinsed, then washed gently by hand or machine (usually 40°C); covers need care to keep them waterproof.


 Soaking, bleach and some commercial nappy sanitizers all damage elastic, Velcro and waterproofed fabrics.

 Soiled nappies should be sluiced in the toilet and rinsed as for covers if necessary.

 Nappies can be dry pailed or soaked before washing at 40°C. Boiling will reduce their lifespan. Nappies can be washed with other whites; some parents’ machine rinse them first. Bleach and biological detergents will damage nappies. Fabric softeners reduce absorbency.


Collect nappies in a dry bucket until ready to wash, for up to 48 hours. A dry pail smells no worse than a bin full of used disposables. You can use a couple of drops of an essential oil on a wipe or cotton wool pad to maks any smells.


Allows for less frequent washing; soaking solution must be changed daily. Do not soak waterproofed fabrics, elastic or Velcro. Bleaches and nappy sanitizers damage elastic.


To half a bucket of water add 50ml distilled white vinegar OR five drops of tea tree oil OR one tablespoon domestic borax OR one tablespoon nappy fresh (eco-friendly nappy sanitizer).

 Nappies soaked in borax or nappy fresh do not need to be washed, they can just be machine rinsed, but this may lead to staining. Soaking covers is not recommended

as this may cause damage.


 Outdoor drying is free; sunshine gives natural bleaching and freshening. Indoor drying on an airer needs good heating/ventilation. Most covers dry quickly indoors. Most nappies can be tumble dried; some covers can't.

A 10 minute tumble occasionally (once a month-ish) will help keep PUL wraps waterproof.

Hopefully I have covered everything, but if you have any questions about care or use of your nappies, please do not hesitate to contact me

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