#startwithonenappy - How to Care for One Cloth Nappy a Day

January 12, 2018 3 min read

#startwithonenappy is an educational campaign to help parents who are new to cloth nappies understand the impact that just one reusable nappy can have. Through this campaign we strive to equip parents with the information and resources they need to make a gentle, manageable and highly rewarding shift to reusable alternatives.

Have you been putting off cloth because you’re not quite sure where to start? Or because you really don’t want to dive in head first with 20+ nappies?


One seems a bit weird, doesn’t it... you might wonder why anyone would bother with just one nappy. We spoke about the why last week. Now let’s talk about the how.

HOW on earth do you care for your cloth nappies when in fact there is only one being used each day. Obviously you don’t want to wait until there are enough for a full load – you’ll be waiting 2 weeks and the first few will be mouldy by then. Not to mention, you might only have 1 or 2 to use, so you’ll want them washed and back in rotation quickly.

Caitlin from Mother Down Under used cloth nappies on her babies in a part time capacity and her routine for care is really simple:

“I put the nappies in my top loader, run a cold rinse cycle, add enough other dirty laundry to fill the machine, and then run a normal cold wash using whatever eco detergent happens to be on special at Woolies.”


But what if you’re only using one nappy? Surely it’s not worth running one nappy through a rinse cycle in the machine… that would just be wasteful, right?


So, what we would do (and in fact what we have done when we’ve been only using one nappy a day – e.g., when the children are toilet training and only using a nappy at night or for a nap) is to hand rise in the laundry tub and then throw it in the machine with the rest of the washing.

By hand rinsing, you’re ridding the nappy of most of the urine (which is what your machine’s rinse cycle does) and then washing the remainder out with the dirt from your clothes. It’ll take about 30 seconds to rinse the nappy by hand. You can store it in a bucket or wet bag or simply pop straight in the machine, ready to be washed with your next load.

NOTE: If the nappy has been pooed in, you’ll need to flush the solids first.


If you’re unsure that this method is working to properly clean your nappies, try the sniff test. Ultimately, nappies should smell like nothing very descript when they come out of the wash. If they smell like wee, they haven’t been rinsed well enough for the wash cycle to be effective and if they smell strongly of detergent, you might be using too much! Just tweak until you get it right.

It really is this simple. Thanks to the efficiency of modern machines and washing detergents, caring for cloth nappies isn’t onerous or complicated. Your machine and detergent do all the work, with you simply rinsing the excess out first (which is exactly what your machine would do if you had a full load of nappies and you were running a rinse cycle to begin with).

So… are you going to give it a shot? Are you ready to start using just one cloth nappy a day and seeing where it takes you?

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