How to clean and wash your cloth nappies

How long can I store dirty nappies?

Maximum three days. If you are only doing part time cloth, follow the washing directions below and just bulk up your main wash load.

Never soak nappies in water/any chemicals/Sterri nappy/Milton/stain removers ever.

How to store details look here.

Prepping nappies before use

We wash nappies once before using them.
Prepping is done to get rid of natural oils.
Wash all nappies and boosters once before using (only the items made of actual absorbent fabric). Not covers or liners. No fabric softener, ever.

You can use a shorter wash for this prep cycle. One hour is enough.
No pre rinse needed.
Cold or 30`C maximum. Warmer water is better for nappies if possible.
Use half the amount of recommended detergent.
Never soak nappies in water/any chemicals/Sterri nappy/Milton/stain removers ever.


Use one of our recommended ones. No fabric softener. Fabric softener covers the fibers of the fabric which inhibits absorption. Baby detergents and 2 in 1 detergents are not suitable. 

Tried and tested detergents.

Machine washing

Newborn nappies and Day time nappies 6kg+ : wash as per guidelines below.

Night nappies worn all night from 6kg, require a little more care. See night nappy washing section below.

    Top loaders

    If considering buying a machine, front loaders are favoured for cloth nappies.

    Front loaders

    1. Add dirty nappies to machine. Load must be three quarters full otherwise nappies don`t get cleaned properly.
    2. Machine rinse dirty nappies.No detergent. Oxygen bleach can be added to the rinse cycle for deep cleaning once a week.
    3. Add smaller items such as baby clothes after the rinse if you need to bulk up the load (bend down and you should fit your hand on top of the pile in the machine). If the load is too full or too empty the nappies, will not get cleaned properly. Do not use towels or linen.
    4. Main long wash: Usually cotton/ fuzzy cycle. Add detergent. No softner. Cold or 30`C degrees. Min time two hours.
    5. Dry.
    6. Tumble drying nappies is fine but NOT covers.

    Watch our washing video

    Night nappies from 6kg (Siesta nappies/ flats at night)

    Night nappies that have been on for longer than six hours, ideally need to be prewashed or main washed the day they come off the bum to minimise any chance of stinks. Night nappies hold alot of urine so need to be washed sooner, if possible.
    Simply throw the nappy (alone) into the machine and follow the short prewash directions below, then airdry over a basket/ bathroom rail until main wash day of your day nappies.

    Prewash night nappy the day it comes off.
    1. Throw nappy into the machine.
    2. Short 40 minute - 60 minute prewash cycle - cold or 30`C is better. Half the amount of usual detergent.
    3. Hang over rail to airdry.
    4. Wash again with the main wash with your dirty day nappies the next day.

    If you do not manage the prewash as above, rinse the night nappy by hand well, under warm water, within the hour it comes off.
    Air dry.
    Add to main wash with day nappies.
    If night nappies start to smell consider doing the prewash daily rather.

    Hard water washing

    Can reduce the ability of detergent to clean nappies which can lead to smells.
    Wash nappies on 40 degrees. Do not wash our covers at 40`C. Wash them on cold with clothes or linen.
    Use only a powder detergent. Nurturer detergent is very good with hard water.

    Handwashing (camping or going away)

    A bucket and plunger works brilliantly (makes for strong arms too):

    1. Add your nappies to the bucket filled with cold (grey) water. Plunge 40 – 50 times.
    2. Fill bucket with warm (grey) water.
    3. Add detergent and plunge about 90 – 100 times.
    4. Refill the bucket with cold (grey) water and plunge another 50 odd times to get rid of the soap.
    5. Drain, squeeze out the water and line dry.
    6. Wash covers separately until clean, then dry.


      Wash in a mesh bag or our Wash Buddy. If nappy covers are washed above 30`C, the waterproofing will get damaged and they will leak.


      Fold flats in half over the line.
      Tumble drying - low only. Do not tumble waterproof covers or nursing pads it will damage them.

      How to clean poop

      Using a bidet sprayer

      We recommend installing a bidet sprayer. It`s affordable, easy and a total game changer when cleaning your cloth. You do not need to spend a lot of money. Get one for about R350 from Takealot, CTM or a bathroom shop.

      Breastfed babies: poop is water soluble and can go straight into the washing machine (or rinse off in the sink first) or spray off using the sprayer. The yellow "stains" can be rubbed with  some soap and nappies hung in the sun - the sun gets rid of "stains".

      Formula fed babies: rinse the nappy before adding to the machine.

      Eating solids stage: Poop must be sprayed off/ discarded into the toilet before washing. Use our fleece liners (as poop falls off the liner much easier than the cloth) with all nappies. 

      How to attach a sprayer

      Get a T joint (see image labelled 1) and an extra pipe (see image labelled 2) from a hardware store. This then can be easily hooked up to a toilet at the wall. No need for a plumber. 

      How to clean a poop nappy without a diaper sprayer


      Hang nappies in the sun to get rid of stains (yes, it really works).
      Use a bit of Oxygen bleach/ boerseep to get rid of "stains".
      Poop does not stain nappies permanently. Use fleece liners once baby starts solids.

      Is washing hard work?

      Modern cloth is easy to clean. Read our blog post.

      Happy parents sharing their cloth nappy joy