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Washing Instructions

The Cotton Nappy Company advises that you wash and use just a couple of your nappies initially to ensure that you are happy with the absorbency and fit. If you are happy, then wash the rest and use them. If you are not happy, please contact us for advice or help.

Initial Wash:

Wash your nappies and boosters 2-3 times before you use them, this will remove residues from the manufacturing process and increase absorbency. You do not need to dry them in between washes. If you do not do this you will probably find your nappies are not very absorbent the first couple of times you use them. You do not need to pre-wash your wraps.

To soak or not to soak?

Not soaking

You do not have to soak your nappies, actually we advise against soaking modern cloth nappies to help prolong the life of the elastic and velcro / aplix. We have always used a dry bucket and laundry mesh. Take off the nappy and flush away the disposable liner or shake any solids down the toilet. Place your nappy inside the mesh bag inside the bucket. Leave until you have enough nappies for a wash. We advise AGAINST using Napisan and other bleaching agents that can damage velcro / aplix fastenings and elastic. Please check the ingredients of your laundry powder / liquid to ensure that it doesn't contain bleaching agents and optical brighteners which can damage modern cloth nappies.


Remove the mesh bag with the nappies inside and place in the washing machine with mesh bag open (so that all the nappies tumble out in the wash). Different manufacturers' recommend you wash at certain temperatures (mainly for environmental reasons), however nappies are designed to withstand a 60°c wash to ensure your nappies are sanitized (i.e. kill any microbes that may be lurking there). It is not necessary to sterilize your nappies at this temperature every wash and you can adequately wash at 40°c most of the time if you prefer. However you should wash at 60°c when; your baby has repeated nappy rash; your baby is unwell; you are using eco balls. If you do not have a full load you can wash nappies with other colourfast clothes. If you have velcro or aplix fastenings, turn the nappies or wraps inside out and shut the Velcro to stop the Velcro catching on other materials in the wash.


Use non-biological washing powder or better still 'Tots Bots Nappy Potion' - this is specifically designed to sanitise cloth nappies at lower temperatures (and smells lovely too :) It is important to ensure that your washing powder doesn't contain bleach or bleaching agents. Tots Bots Potion, Surcare and Filetti are powders, which are probably less likely to cause allergic reactions in your child. You can also use eco-friendly powder or liquid such as Bio D and Sonett. We do not recommend 'ecover' as we have had reports that this has damaged some PUL outers. Alternatively, you could use eco-balls. If using powder / liquid use only 1/2 - 1/4 of the recommended amount as too much can cause a build-up in the nappy reducing its absorbency.

Never use fabric softener / conditioner as this coats the fabric and gradually reduces the absorbency.


The best option is to line dry as it is free and the sunlight is a natural bleach. However it is not always sunny and not everyone has access to a garden. A drying rack or airer works very well. If you dry nappies over a radiator please bear in mind that they may get quite stiff, although you can shake them out a bit to soften them up. Do not dry wraps on a radiator as this may damage the waterproof membrane. Tumble drying on a low heat, is another option, more expensive and environmentally not so great – but fantastic in an emergency. Tumble-drying will make your nappies feel nice and soft but can shorten their life. Please check the care label of the nappies you are using prior to tumble drying them.


  • Don't soak your nappies in chemical sanitizers
  • Don't use nappy sanitiser / Napisan when washing your wraps.
  • Don't wash or dry your wraps at high temperatures. Do not dry your wraps on a radiator
  • Don't stretch the elastic on your nappies and wraps after tumble drying, until they have cooled down as this can lead to the elastic breaking or becoming lax.
  • Don't use fabric conditioner / softener as it reduces the absorbency by coating the fabric and increasing the chance of leaks.
  • Don't use a barrier or nappy rash cream on your baby unless you place a paper disposable liner between your baby's bottom and the nappy. These creams can affect the absorbency of the nappy by coating it with a waterproof film.

Problem Solving

Stiff Nappies

If your water is hard, this can result in your nappies becoming stiff (a particular problem with nappies made from 100% cotton terry towelling or hemp). To help with this you can:

  • Rub your nappies together
  • Put a couple of tablespoons of white vinegar to your final rinse
  • After washing soak your nappies in a bucket of rain water, then spin and dry as usual
  • Tumble dry for 10 minutes before hang drying

Stains or Smells

Generally most nappies do not stain, especially if fleece is involved in the lining or liner. However sometimes they do. If you do have a stubborn stain not removed by washing try:

  • Hanging out to dry on a sunny day, sunshine is natural bleach and often removes the most stubborn stains. This even works indoors by leaving on a sunny window sill.
  • Wash at 60 degrees with Tots Bots Nappy Potion.


The most common reasons for a leak is that there is not enough absorbency in the nappy or the nappy / wrap is the incorrect size. We have also listed other reasons:

  • Check that the nappy or the booster is not poking out of the wrap at any point, as this will cause a wet patch where the wet nappy touches clothing.
  • Try using a booster, bamboo in particular is excellent for mopping up and holding large amounts of liquid.
  • Don't use barrier or nappy rash cream without using a paper liner.
  • Try washing all your nappies and wraps in one cycle without powder, there might be a build up of detergent in the fibres of the nappies and wraps which can affect their absorbency.
  • You can use a treatment on your wraps to put some waterproofing back into them, particularly around the legs and waste.
  • Check the fit is right for your child


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