Moira’s nappy-cleaning masterclass

Miss Thrifty3 September 16, 2012

baby bum boutique

Here’s Thrifty Baby in a shiny new nappy: after I posted about my (well, his) experiences with reusable nappies from Baby Bum Boutique, Amanda from BBB kindly sent a nappy from Baby Bum Boutique’s new basics range to try out. The bamboo inserts are just as absorbent as the old, cotton ones, but dry more quickly. This is handy if, like me, you don’t have a tumble dryer to hand as the cold autumn weather draws in… Anyway, the nappies are £7.50 each, and available here.

When I posted about reusable nappies earlier this year, Thrifty Baby wasn’t on solids – which, admittedly, had made the job of cleaning them less grim than it might otherwise have been. Since then, it’s been all change here. Following a shaky start with solids, during which Thrifty Baby made faces like we were feeding him raw lemon pulp, he’s taken to food with gusto. So it has been time to implement Moira’s nappy masterplan. 

Moira: I’d like to thank you once again!

Everybody else: Moira is the reader mentioned in the previous reusable nappy post. Before Thrifty Baby was born, Moira sent me a tip-top laundry strategy for cleaning grotty reusables. As promised, I have copied it below.

Thrifty Baby is cutting  quite a swathe through his nappies at the moment, and during the week if I am short of clean nappies and time, I can still get away with wiping the nasties off into the loo and bunging a half-load on a prewash. But it isn’t the most economical use of water or electricity. What’s more, “nappies from hell”, as detailed below, need more than soap nuts. So whenever circumstances demand it, I’m turning to Moira’s method…

Moira writes: The system I worked out was used with the (then) new-fangled, printed cloth nappies and cloth inserts – and the pictures on the nappies never faded in over two years!

You will need:

  • One covered bucket. Two buckets are best if you have them.
  • Loo brush
  • Nail brush
  • Bar of Fairy Household Soap/Vanish Soap/plain boring household soap you use in the bath!
  • Box of Acdo washing powder (Note: this old school laundry detergent can often be found in discount shops & supermarkets, but if you don’t have any then any old laundry powder is fine.)
  • Box of Biotex
  • Bicarbonate of soda


Keep the two buckets covered. Fill one halfway with hot water, stir in a good handful of Acdo (it is very gentle and apparently very good on the eco front), a couple of tablespoons of Biotex and leave.  Fill the other bucket halfway with warm water and stir in a large handful of bicarb, until the water begins to feel a little “greasy”.

When you’re changing a nappy, remember that although it may be “nicer” to use sheets to strain the poo from the wee, it is also a waste and your child will have no problems if you don’t use them.

So, there you are, faced with the nappy from hell.  It’s sodden, dripping with wee and poo has leaked all over it inside and out. It is stuck in the creases and you really, really, really wish you were using disposables.  It happens! But it happens less often as you get more used to putting nappies on, as you get used to working out how many pee pads to put in and how closely you watch their faces!  Also, after a while it stops being a real problem and becomes just something you do…

So, nappy yucky in the extreme, what do we do?


Strip off the darling babe and dump aforementioned nappy AND clothes on a large piece of waterproof material and bathe the baby with giggles and bubbles.  Ignore the darned thing until your baby is clean and dry.

OK, baby is now clean and gurgling happily in towel or wrapped up, clothed, in bed or whatever.  The nappy awaits.  If you can, shake any solids down the loo, or use the loo brush to remove most of the poo. That’s what loo brushes were designed to brush off, isn’t it?!

Flush the loo with the pad/nappy held in the flow of the water to jet most of it off.  You are left with a dingy, wet nappy.  Don’t despair.

cleaning nappies

Next is the rinse and swish.  Take the first bucket and swish the nappy and pads in it just enough to wet them.  No poo should fall off into the bucket by now as you’ll have flushed most of it already.  Get the nail brush and brush off as much as you can.  Now, swish in the loo.  Swish through the first bucket again and repeat until that nappy is clear of all poo.  Make sure to get every last bit out of the seams and wrinkles.  Leaving any here will cause your baby a lot of trouble a little further down the line.

This all seems a lot of work, I know, but it truly isn’t.  After the first few days it gets to be very fast, and the whole thing takes very little time.  I used to do it while the baby gurgled on the towel on the floor.  It saved me wandering around, kept the job with me and I got the job done a lot more pleasantly as I chatted to my baby as I did it.

You now have a cleaned-off but stained nappy and pad.  If this is as far as you can get, bung them in the second pail until you can get back to them.  In fact, if all you can do is flush away the poo initially, bung them in here and return when you can.  Anything up to the next nappy change will do.  Put the lid on and get on with your life.

Apply a good hard scrub of household soap. Scrub, scrub, scrub.  Initially, just rub the nappy or pad against itself, then rinse and reapply a bit of soap and then use the nail brush.  Do this until it’s virtually clean.  If you do it as soon as you can, and keep it wet inbetween if you have to wait, it really doesn’t take much effort.  Remember the seams and wrinkles.  That’s one of the only advantages of square, old-fashioned fold-’em-up nappies. Well, that and having a stack of soft white square towels years later!  Otherwise it’s shaped nappies all the way…

Put them to soak in the washing powder bucket (bucket number one) and leave until you have a full load for the washing machine.  Up to 24 hours, if you have enough nappies for that.  Give them one last scrub with a bit of soap as you throw them into the washing machine at 40 degrees, along with with a tablespoon of Acdo and a tablespoon of washing soda.

Make sure when you bring the nappies in from the line that you give them a very good shake and rub them around to soften them.

That’s it!

Before I forget: Moira was also kind enough to send a VERY thrifty treatment for nappy rash. I haven’t had cause to use it yet – Thrifty Baby’s buns are apparently made of steel, like Batfink’s wings – but I’m holding onto it and suspect that other readers will find it useful. I’ll be publishing this in a separate post.

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3 Responses to “Moira’s nappy-cleaning masterclass

My two girls are way beyond the age now of diapers, so this isn’t really releavent for me, BUT! Man, it’s funny how the idea of resusable diapers never crossed my wife and my’s mind, not once. We just used disposable diapers because that’s what you do! Man, I feel sort of like a jerk now for not knowing that we could’ve used resusable!

September 17, 2012 at 9:23 pm

Moira [of Nappy Masterclass :) ] says:

So glad it came in useful, Miss Thrifty [and TB] 🙂

For anyone else, if you need any more information about this, please feel free to contact me and I’ll do my best to help out.

[email protected]

[ Please bear in mind that I’m not an “expert”, just a Mum 🙂 ]

September 17, 2012 at 10:20 pm

Your nappy rash treatment isn’t egg white by any chance? Great Moroccan #creditfree tip that one!

October 5, 2012 at 6:38 am

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