Washing (and Using) Real Nappies

Washing instructions:

  • Store nappies in a wet bag and/or bucket until wash day.
  • Wash day:
  1. First run a cold rinse or cold quick wash for around 30 minutes. This is with no detergent, and helps to remove protein based stains (poo).

  2. Next you can add other items of washing in the machine until it is roughly three quarters full. For example baby clothes, muslin cloths, or other small items. No dark colours!

  3. Add non-bio powder detergent and run a long cotton wash at 40 or 60 degrees. This should last 2-3 hours.

  4. Optional! Finally you can run an extra rinse to ensure all detergent has been cleaned from the nappies. This  can be useful in preventing problems associated with detergent build-up until you're sure you have the right dose of detergent for your machine.

  • Use any non-bio powder for washing except Ecover, which experience shows us does not give a good enough clean.
  • Do not use any optical brighteners or harsh cleaning products (Vanish, Napisan, chlorine bleach etc.)
  • Do not use fabric conditioner
  • Eco eggs and soap nuts are not recommended as they do not effectively kill bacteria
  • Do not wash hotter than 60 degrees
  • Nappies do not need to be soaked prior to washing
  • Stains are quite common, so don't worry. {If you are hiring a kit, please don't try anything outside of the normal washing instructions. I will remove any stains once they are returned to me}. 
  • Do a maintenance wash once a month – an empty wash at 90 degrees, and a wipe around the door, seals and filter. (Advised even if not washing cloth nappies)

This article is peer reviewed scientific evidence that washing on a long cycle at 60 degrees with a powder detergent containing AOB (activated oxygen bleach) is effective at removing all possible nasty bugs from nappies, with no need for chlorine bleach. 

This is reassuring to know if dealing with infections such as thrush or using preloved nappies. 

All hire nappies are washed at least once by the previous hirer, plus once by Real Nappy Life following the above method. New hires are advised to wash before use, which totals three washes between bottoms. 



  • The best thing is to dry outside on a line, but indoors on an airer is also fine. 
  • Do not place the nappies (especially not the wraps) directly on a radiator or anything hot as this will damage them.
  • To speed up drying indoors, you can point a dehumidifier at your airer, or a fan with an open window . These can halve your drying time.
  • Any parts of a nappy not containing  bamboo or PUL can be tumble dried on cool. Bamboo and PUL must be hung to dry away from any heat source to optimise longevity. 


 General Guidance for use

  • Change your baby's nappy every 2 - 4 hours or immediately after a poo.
  • At night if your baby sleeps for longer periods, change them when they wake.
  • You may want to use a natural nappy cream such as lanolin or Weleda Calendula cream. If using any other cream, please protect the nappy with a fleece or disposable liner, as these creams can coat the fibres and be very tough to remove.
  • When changing your baby, always clean the whole bottom well.
  • Put used nappies and wipes in a wet bag or bucket and store until wash day.
  • Make sure you have folded back the hook and loop (Aplix/Velcro) tabs so that they don’t snag on each other or collect lint. If a wrap has hook and loop but no tabs, fasten it loosely and wash inside out.
  • Try not to leave it more that two days between washes, as this will prevent damage to the nappies and reduce staining.
  • Before your baby is weaned, everything can go in the washing machine, poo and all – no need to flush anything. When your baby is eating food, all poo needs to be knocked off into the toilet. Liners can help with removal if not 'ploppable'.
  • Before washing, disassemble the nappy. Pull out any inserts and boosters to ensure a thorough clean, and secure any hook and loop.
  • All in one and pocket nappies need to be washed after every change. For all in 2, shaped and flat nappies - wipe down the wrap and wash after roughly 3 uses (if poo gets on the wrap do not re-use). 
  • To avoid leaks, check your fit, and make sure all of the absorbent parts of the nappy are tucked inside the waterproof outer so no wet can escape