Troubleshooting Stains on your Reusable Nappies

Stains on my cloth!

Sometimes stains are preventable, a good wash routine is all you need to keep your cloth pretties looking pretty, other times you may have to live with the fact that your bub is just one of those bubs with stainy poo. Let's just pause, take a deep breath and see what we can potentially do to keep those nasty stains away.

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Step 0: Before you start troubleshooting, make sure you are following a good wash routine first. 

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Honestly, the less scrubbing and effort it takes to keep your reusable nappies clean, the is 100% more sustainable for your parenting life so try these easy steps first.....

Step 1: 

Check your wash temperatures. If you are already pre-washing + mains washing at 40 degrees then try bumping the temp up to 60 degrees (DO NOT GO HIGHER!). This may be all it takes to keep those cloth nappies pristine clean. You can try adjusting just the pre-wash temp first and if this doesn't show results then try bumping up the mains wash temp to 60 degrees as well. 

Step 2: 

Check your pre-wash cycle lengths. If you are pre-washing for 45 min try the next longest cycle that your machine allows. Here at The Cloth Stash our pre-wash cycle is 1 hour. If we have an extra poopy load we pre-wash for 1hr 20min instead. 


Try running another pre-wash. We haven't seen it advised anywhere else, but it works for us so why not give it a try? For those panadol or blueberry poops or for those particularly stainy newborn poops then we add in a second pre-wash just to get rid of the really manky water first before running a second prewash cycle to get rid of the last of it. 

Step 3: 

Add in a stain remover | booster to your prewash cycle. Here at The Cloth Stash we use Sard power stain remover powder and we follow the manufacturer's recommended dosage.

If you prefer, you could try spraying the stains with stain remover spray instead (or as well). Either straight after the nappy change (remove the solids first) or even after the prewash. Spray is particularly good for removing the stains in the elastics, simply stretch out the elastics, spray and leave it there to soak in until wash time. 

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Ok, so that failed....what can we try next? 

Step 6: Good old elbow grease. Throw on some gloves and scrub those stains with sard wonder soap (or equivalent).

The sooner you get to the potential stains the better, so straight after the nappy change, scrub away at those stains (once you have removed a majority of the poop) then place the nappy in the dry pail as usual, wringing it out first to remove as much moisture as possible.

Step 7: Try applying a Napisan (or equivalent) paste. Dilute the stain remover powder with water until it has the consistency of paste and spread it over the stain. Allow the paste to soak in and pop it in the wash as usual. 

An alternate is to soak the sained nappy or insert in Napisan instead, but please ensure this doesn't create a drowning hazard for bub. This method is not recommended by others as it creates an environment for bacteria to grow. But we are not going to lie to you and tell you we haven't tried it's pretty effective and requires minimal effort. We don't leave it soaking too long (2hrs should do it) and we have a good wash routine for after the soak. We have never had any issues with unclean nappies or irritations on bub's skin. A controversial method...but it works.

Step 8: If all else fails, try a bleach sanitise! Sometimes all it takes is a bit of bleach to wash away the most stubborn of stains. Refer to Clean Cloth Nappies or Cloth Nappy Help for bleach sanitise instructions.

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We do know that you aren't always going to be able to treat those stains straight after your bub's nappy change, who has time for that with an active bub around. So just get to the stains when you can. You can even try treating them after the prewash that could work for you too....and bonus is that you'll have less interaction with poo! 

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Other resources.....

The majority of the cloth nappy community will tell you, when all else fails refer to Clean Cloth Nappies, they are to go to experts for your cloth nappy wash routine and stain troubleshooting. They have a Facebook group where you can post about any issues you are having or request wash routine checks to ensure you are doing all of the things required to maintain your nappies in pristine condition. 

Another fabulous resource is the Cloth Nappy Help website & the Australian Cloth Nappy Association.