How to Wash Reusable Nappies

If you’re reading this article, you’ve probably decided that reusable nappies are a good idea but you’re not sure about how practical and convenient they are.  You’re rightly concerned about the impact of disposable nappies on the environment, or perhaps you’ve read about all the chemicals contained within disposables that can lead to increased nappy rash.

Whatever your reasons for wanting to change, sooner or later you’ll have to answer the question about how to wash reusable nappies.  But there’s good news….. It’s really not difficult or time consuming.

If you’ve researched the subject at all, don’t worry if you’ve seen recommendations for types and brands of washing powder that you’ve never heard of.  Do you really need a different laundry routine for reusable nappies? How difficult is it to get reusable nappies clean?

Here’s our top tips on washing reusable nappies.

Choose Nappies That Wash Easily

A lot of the washing advice you read online probably won’t apply to you, because it has been written for one specific type of reusable nappy.  

Pocket nappies and all-in-one nappies with absorbent liners are at the bottom (pardon the pun) of all this advice, because the absorbent layer of the nappy is often made of microfleece.

Microfleece needs to be washed in a particular way. The good thing about microfleece is that it wicks moisture away from your baby’s skin, and it’s resistant to staining.

Those same properties lead to the material collecting residue from detergents. Occasionally, this can cause the liner to smell even after washing, and it can also become water-resistant instead of absorbent.  Unsurprisingly, this can cause the nappy to leak.

If you want to simplify things, avoid those reusable nappies which contain those materials and choose cotton nappies instead.  Pre-fold nappies won’t collect residue or retain a smell, and you can usually wash them in the same stuff you already use.

If this is your first baby, you might want to read up on washing powders and capsules anyway, as some are known to irritate baby skin more than others.

Read The Label of Your Washing Powder

You don’t necessarily need a special washing powder for reusable nappies, but you should read the label just in case it isn’t suitable. Babies’ skin is far more sensitive than ours, and perfumes and dyes can irritate their skin, whether it’s in their clothes or their nappies.

The main things to avoid are fragrances, dyes, enzymes, and optical brighteners.  Such things are known to irritate baby’s skin. Enzymes are designed specifically to react with organic material (wee and poo!) and if a trace of the enzymes are left behind in the nappy, it can react with your baby’s skin.

Fabric softeners are another thing to avoid as they can make reusable nappies water resistant.

Strip Your Nappies

Even with the best washing powder, it’s a good idea to strip your nappies regularly to make sure they aren’t collecting residue.

Stripping nappies is basically washing them several times in hot water to remove any residue or build-up.  Simply set your machine to 90 degrees and run the reusable part through several hot washes with no soap.

We recommend adding about a cupful of white vinegar for the final cycle.  White vinegar is great at neutralising smells.


Washing reusable nappies might sound a little complicated at first, but it isn’t difficult.

You may need to experiment with a few different systems until you find the method that works best for you and your baby, but in the long-run it will become second nature and you’ll also be saving the environment and your bank balance!