Real Nappies

It’s Nappy Washing Day

I am often asked how easy washing and drying nappies is. On a beautiful sunny day my garden is illuminated with white fluffiness, on a dark and rainy day my house soon resembles a Chinese laundry. But I LOVE it. I look at my nappies like little trophies, and feel very proud if someone pops over and sees the house decorated with all-things cotton. Here are a few questions I have been asked about the washing and drying of nappies recently, and I have answered them as brutally honest as possible.

nappies drying on the line

Why do it? There are disposables to be used in these modern days. Why make more work for yourself? Why? Because I love it! I love knowing that I am saving money, I love knowing that I am reducing the number of nappies ending up in landfills and I love the way I am reducing the amount of harsh, skin irritating chemicals I expose my child to. You wash your clothes? Ok, me too. I just have one extra load to put on. It’s no biggie.

Don’t they take ages to dry? Some take a little longer than other yes, But nothing takes longer than a day. I put the nappies on the line on a windy, sunny day and chances are it’s all dry within a few hours. The pocket nappies and wraps dry in next to no time. The cotton a little longer… about the amount of time it takes your jeans to dry.

How do you get the stains out? Baby poo… that amazing golden coloured, runny stuff. I breastfeed, so It is even more yellow than formula fed babies. Lucky Me! Well, the stains wash out. Some people like to wet pail dirty (bucket and water) nappies, as it doesn’t allow stains to set in so easily. I like to take ours off and put them straight into a nappy bucket, with no water- so dry, basically. I cant think of anything worse than messing around with poopy water. Those stains come out in the sunshine. The sun is nature’s whitener. If you dropped spaghetti bolognaise down your best white shirt, hang it on the line to dry in the open sunshine and watch that stain lift. Works the same on baby poo! I never use any harsh chemicals to lift stains, I just rely on nature. Leaving nappies out over night in the winter to get a good freeze, works just as well too. I don’t know the science, but I know it works!

What about when it’s raining? I just hang everything indoors. Pound shops sell some really good sock dryers. Perfect for nappy inserts and baby wipes! I hang the cotton prefolds on the radiator, the nappies I pop together and hang from trouser hangers, and the smaller bits onto the sock dryer, If I’m in a rush I do tumble dry, but that really is a last resort.

nappyinsterts drying

How much detergent and fabric softener must you go through?! Loads I bet! Errrmmm, hardly any actually. I just use the tiniest drop of liquid detergent, less than half of what I would ever use in a normal clothes wash. Using too much detergent can build up in the nappy fibres and make them less absorbent. And do not even go there with fabric softener, for the same reason. Also, I use cloth because it is gentler on my baby’s skin, why add chemicals to the mix? Nothing that a good wash with hot water can’t shift.

I bet it takes hours, all that washing and folding… and ironing! Any one who has come over for a cup of tea on nappy washing day can confirm that they have seen me put together enough nappies for both my kids in a matter of minutes (We have around 30 nappies for both kids combined) with no effort. I just fold everything into piles, and then make up each nappy, ready for use. It takes about enough time to drink that cup of tea. It doesn’t even feel like a chore. I just sit down with a cuppa and whip them out. So, I’d guess, about 10 minutes, If that.  And Ironing? Sorry, what’s that? I don’t even iron my clothes. my bad?

I bet that nappy bucket stinks. Well, it would if I let it. I wash every couple of days, so it doesn’t have a chance to get minging and smelly. Plus the bucket has a good seal on the lid and I keep it outside by the back door. I rarely ever smell it. Unless I have my head in it. Which is never. Our black bins get collected every 2 weeks, that is a long time for a poopy nappy to sit there smelling, waiting to be taken away.

Big kid poop. You touch that?! No, I do not touch that. I have fleece liners (made by myself from a blanket that cost me 99p in Ikea). I remove that from the worn nappy and hold it over the toilet. The poo just peels off and falls into the bowl. TMI… sorry, that’s how it works.


So, as you can see, it really all is very easy. Admittedly I have been doing this for 3 years now, and there are parents who have been doing it for hell of a lot longer, but it has become a second nature to me now. It requires no effort or thought. I have trialled-and-errored a lot, but I have perfected my technique.  Basically, what I am trying to say is… its really flipping easy! Its like washing your clothes… but a lot more interesting!

cloth nappy week 2015 pretty nappies

Hazel Newhouse

Hazel is a mum to 3 daughters and a son, she lives in Bedfordshire with her husband, kids and pets. Hazel has written for various publications, and regularly works alongside popular parenting and gardening brands.

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  1. I love this post! 😀
    We also cloth nappy and I love it. 😀 I recognise some of yours, we have them as well. haha

    1. Hehe! Fluffy bum bags are the best (my nan used to call them bum-bags lol!) x

  2. Motherhood says:

    An energy efficient washing machine will save you money washing your little one’s nappies. It’ll also help reduce your carbon footprint.

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