Washing cloth nappies is really quite simple. It's about a good, strong detergent at the right temperature, for the right amount of time, but what makes a good detergent for washing your nappies?
Advice on washing cloth nappies has come along way, thanks largely to scientific based group Clean Cloth Nappies who this advice is largely taken from along with our own experience of 20 years in the washing nappies. It has actually totally changed the way I wash everything over the last few years and seriously gives me confidence to send my messy daughter out into the world wearing white clothes, knowing I have the tools to get things white again!
Why good detergent is so important.
Think about what exactly you are washing is for a second and how much bacteria there would be in your nappies. A gentle wash cycle or gentle detergent doesn’t cut it for removing bacteria. You need to bring out the big guns for washing cloth nappies so that means typically enzyme based detergents are the way to go. There are some good natural detergents and main stream detergents that fit the criteria and make the recommended list so keeping reading to find out what brands do and don’t make the list.
What to look for when picking a detergent
Firstly take a look at what you currently use as it might be perfectly fine to use. The key ingredients you want to see are listed here
SURFACTANTS – this is the ingredient that lifts soiling from fabrics and crucial for washing cloth nappies.
ENZYMES – enzymes help remove stains, prevents piling and maintains effective procedures throughout the wash cycle. Different enzymes target different purposes in your washing cycle so ideally a blend of enzymes is what you’re looking for the perfect detergent.
So what do we recommend? If you're like us, part of your reason for choosing cloth nappies was environmental so our preference is for naturally derived or plant based formulas but not all good enough for nappies.
Best Plant Based Detergents
Plant based, home made or sensitive detergents often don’t have enough surfactants (sometimes none) to lift and remove the bacteria. So what makes our cut for plant based detergents that give you a good deep clean? For all plant based detergents your optimum temperature is 40-60 degrees, some may need to double dose as we have mentioned below.
Formulated specifically for cloth nappies and general washing after years of experience in the industry, this is the ultimate plant based detergent for washing reusable nappies. Loaded with 4 enzymes, plant based surfactants and deep cleaning for clean cloth nappies. Can also be used as a soaker and for general laundry, Sold in our washing section, shop here
Ecostore Lemon Powder
Available in supermarkets this is easily accessible. We recommend tweaking with 1.5 x 2 doses depending on the size of your machine.
Kin Kin Laundry Liquid. If you prefer liquid, then this is a great plant based option. A bit harder to find but a really good option.
Plant based with added Softener (great for keeping Fitted Nappies and inserts super soft)
SOFT by b clean co
A plant based washing detergent with inbuilt softener so it cleans and softens natural fabrics that often get crunchy when line drying. Unlike normal fabric softeners, this one is formulated so it won’t stop your fabrics absorbing. Brings back the softness in your inserts, fitted nappies with regular use. Sold in our washing section, shop here
Recommended Mainstream Detergents for Cloth Nappies
Available in most supermarkets these are the main stream detergents we recommend that give you a good clean every time but do contain synthetic ingredients. OMO, Persil, Biozet, Radiant Powder, Radiant Senstive or Trimat Sensitive are all perfectly fine to use.
Washing Cloth Nappies Tips
- Pre-wash is essential before your main wash to remove surface solids and urine (essentially making your main wash water much cleaner)
- Prewash should be min 30 minutes, full dose detergent. Dry pail after prewash until you’re ready to do main long wash
- Make sure your drum is 3/4 full when wet for proper agitation
- Prewash daily to avoid stains, and main wash every 2-3 days maximum
- See our Advice Hub for more details info on washing