How to wash
How to prep cloth nappies:
Personal preference: Wash new cloth nappies before the first use (to ensure it's clean after being stored and transported).
Synthetic fibres like microfibre will be at full absorbency capacity from the start. Natural fibres like bamboo, hemp, cotton, flannel etc only reach max absorbency after 8-10 washes. In order to save water (and time!) we recommend prepping cloth nappies on the bum, so you prep cloth nappies as you use it. Just keep in mind that natural fibres' absorbency improve significantly after the first few washes (as the natural oils wash out). Change quicker the first few times you use the unprepped cloth to account for the compromised absorbency. All types of cloth nappies can be washed together.
Preloved Cloth Nappies: It's recommended to bleach/GSE strip your preloved cloth nappies to make sure there is no nasties on them.
Scroll down to see a good washing routine for machine or hand washing, as well as how to care for your front loader washing machine and some tips on how to adjust your washing routine with a front- and top loader.
Place pee nappies directly in your dry bucket. Poop nappies (where baby is already on solids) - flush the solids down the toilet or spray poop off with a diaper sprayer and then place nappy in your dry bucket. EBF poop nappies can be placed directly in your dry bucket. When your baby is older, you will probably need to rinse his/her overnight nappy in warm water immediately when it comes off the bum, before placing it in the dry bucket. Important: A wet pail or soaking is not recommended for modern cloth (any items that have elastics or PUL) as it will cause early deterioration (PUL delaminating, natural fibres breaking down, elastic deterioration etc).
Washing day! Move nappies from dry bucket into your washing machine. Run a cold rinse & spin cycle (or a short wash/prewash, depending on your machine) without any detergent to get rid of the urine. Important: Make sure your machine is 3/4th full to ensure optimum agitation.
Add your detergent - use the recommended amount as per the manufacturer for heavily soiled. You can use any regular detergent that do not contain softener (so no 2-in-1 detergents). Don't add softener. You can see our list of detergents and dosage indications here.
Now wash on the longest cycle with the most agitation (It’s usually the cotton cycle) on 40 degrees. (Cold water can also be used successfully or an occasional 60 degrees wash is also okay). If you wash cold, remember to increase one of the other washing elements (eg longer wash, more detergent etc). Important: Some suppliers have a maximum temperature restriction on their nappies, be sure to reference the guidelines if you want it to stay under warranty.
If there are no soap suds at the end of the long wash cycle, you can take your cloth out and line dry or tumble dry on low. A final rinse is usually necessary to get detergent out properly if you have soft water. If you use soap like Sunlight Gel you will also need extra rinses. Rinse until you see no more soap suds.
Dry your nappies. You can either hang them up outside, on a clothes horse or tumble dry them. Do not tumble dry PUL items on high though. Pro Tip: To remove stains, dry your nappies in the sun, it works like magic and gets rid of most stains.
Hand washing - bucket and plunger method
Flats and Covers
Submerge flats & covers in cold water and plunge 50 times to get rid of the urine.
Drain the water and remove the covers.
Fill the bucket (with flats in) with warm water (enough to cover your nappies),
Add about 100ml Sunlight Gel for 12-14 flats and plunge 100 times.
Drain and fill again with cold water.
Plunge another 50 times to ensure all the soap is rinsed out.
Drain and wring out.
Shake to get excess water off and hang to line dry.
Covers: Quickly wash with a little bit of soap and water, rinse, towel dry and then hang to dry.
For a visual, here you can see the bucket & plunger method in action.
How to clean your front loader
It's good practice to regularly clean your Front-loader to avoid build up of detergent and to ensure filters are clear and clean so that it washes your cloth nappies optimally. Follow cleaning instructions here:
Adjusting your wash routine with front- and top loaders
Front loader: For optimal agitation to keep your cloth nappies clean you need to make sure your machine is 3/4 full. You can add additional small items of laundry after the rinse cycle to fill up your machine if necessary
Top loader: With a top loader to have ideal agitation you should opt for a soupy consistency, this means your top loader shouldn't have too much or too little water, you should adjust the water level manually after your rinse (as the cloth nappies will be heavier due to being wet from the rinse so your machine will calculate too much water based on the current weight
See infographics below for more details.