So you’ve decided to go down the reusable nappy route and suddenly you hit a wall of confusion when it comes to washing your nappies. Your cloth nappy journey is in danger of grinding to a halt. Should you use detergent, how much, which one? We talk you through all the options and pitfalls when it comes to the best washing detergent for cloth nappies.
Should I use detergent in my cloth nappies?
Yes! A few years ago many myths erupted about not using washing powder on your nappies. This combined with the genuine problems many people were experiencing with washing powder build-up meant gurus were wrongly telling people to use no powder or just a teaspoon… Your nappies are dirty, they need washing powder to clean them. Period.
How much washing powder should I use?
This can be a tricky one as it’s actually not that easy to definitely tell you how much as it depends on your load, your washing machine, your water and how dirty the nappies are. Generally follow your washing powder guidelines and follow our cloth nappy washing guide for the best advice on cleaning nappies in general.
Can I use liquid detergent to wash nappies?
No! Over many years we have found that liquid detergents are one of the biggest causes of powder build-up, they just don’t rinse out properly. This can lead to problems with nappies repelling or causing rashes. Use the right washing powder for your nappies, keep them clean and you’ll be fine!
How do I choose detergent for washing nappies?
You may just want to start with what you are using in your normal family wash which is probably a bio washing powder. I’m a big believer in using what is to hand and not buying anything special for your nappy wash. I know I go against the grain here, but honestly keep it simple and affordable.
Many nappy manufacturers recommend not using biological powder, but this is just in use with bamboo nappies. It’s fine for other nappies and in fact, you can wash your nappies better at a lower temperature using biological detergents. Read our full guide on bio vs non bio for nappies here.
If you choose to use non-bio for your nappies instead of using a biological detergent wash then there are many options out there. The last few years have seen a big surge in detergents formulated specifically for nappies, which can be used on any load and does not contain enzymes so will work perfectly with cloth nappy laundry too!
If you particularly want to use bio detergents instead of non bio washing powder then just remember modern washing machines don’t rinse them out well so always put on an extra rinse cycle when doing your wash cycle.
What washing powder is best for cloth nappies?
With super water efficient modern machines you need a washing detergent that will effectively clean your nappies, but not level any residue. After years of testing, we have found the best eco-friendly washing powder is Violets Magic Laundry Powder. Violets cloth nappy laundry detergent is a non-toxic, low-sudsing detergent that is gentle yet effective. It cleans effectively and is ideal for washing clothing and diapers as it rinses out really well.
Violets powder is Vegan society authorized, botanical and natural minerals, biodegradable, and devoid of synthetic chemicals and brighteners. This one is ideal for washing baby clothes or nappies, as well as being gentle on sensitive skin and eczema. There are no dangerous chemicals in this product, so it’s perfect for people with sensitive skin or eczema.
Because it rinses out so well on the wash cycle and extra rinse cycle, we have found there is much less need for a strip wash when using Violets.
Whilst it’s not a bio detergent it’s proved great at cleaning dirty nappies, as good as any biological detergents wash we have seen.
Can I use Napisan on cloth nappies?
Yes, if you really really need to, but avoid it. Only use Napisan when you need to deep clean your nappies. You don’t need to use it in every wash and in fact, it is harmful to the fabrics if used too frequently. You can use it occasionally but do so sparingly. In 5 years of washing cloth nappies, I never once used it!
Can I use fabric softener on cloth nappies?
No! Never never never put fabric conditioner in with your washing nappies or any other clothes for that matter. Laundry detergent and fabric softeners are two very different things and you should keep them that way.
The reason for not using fabric softener is because it coats the nappies and basically stops them from absorbing! This is fine for the wraps but you really need the actual nappies to absorb.
If you have accidentally used fabric softener or used a powder detergent that contained fabric softener then you will probably need to strip wash your nappies!
Can I use Dettol on reusable nappies?
Yes, you can but… Dettol is a very harsh disinfectant with lots of chemicals that are too strong for use on your nappies and may not rinse out properly. Using the correct quantity of detergent, and a long, hot wash will completely clean nappies. It’s possible that they have no cleaning benefit and may even have negative environmental consequences. Dettol themselves advise:
You can wash cloth nappies with Dettol Antiseptic Liquid (1 tbsp in 500ml of water) to keep them hygienic and safeguard your baby from germs.
Can I use an eco egg to wash cloth nappies.
Honestly, no. Much as we would love to say this great environmentally friendly option is good for cleaning nappies, sadly it’s just not. It just doesn’t clean them well enough and you soon end up with dirty smelly nappies.
What washing powder is safe for newborns?
The NHS has recently changed their advice on what washing powder is safe for newborn babies and they now recommend any washing powder. Always look for a safe one, eco friendly ones usually contain the least amount of nasties. Violets is the best eco-friendly washing powder we have found.
What’s in VIOLETS cloth nappy laundry detergent? – natural minerals, botanical and plant-based ingredients (no synthetic chemicals), biodegradable formula with no enzymes or optical brighteners.
It’s a great product for anyone wanting an effective but gentle wash.
Cloth nappies are an eco-friendly alternative for parents who want to do their part in reducing the environmental impact of disposable diapers. These clothes require special care when washing them, and it’s important not to use too many chemicals or fabric softeners that can ruin your wash cycle. Violets is a low-sudsing detergent that does not contain any toxic ingredients–perfect for sensitive skin. We recommend using this product on all baby clothes because of its gentle formula but also how well it rinses out with no residue left behind! You’ll find there’s less need for stripping cycles with our products than other brands due to its effective cleaning ability.
When washing nappies remember to do a pre-wash, then the main wash and a cold rinse. The use of bio powder or non-bio powder really is your choice unless you are using bamboo nappies. We recommend to dry pail in either a nappy bucket or a wet bag.