How to wash Adult Nappies

Picture of a washing machine in a laundry where adult nappies can be washed

How easy are adult nappies to clean? It’s a question that we hear a lot at Eco Incontinence, and it is a lot easier than you might think. If you are cleaning adult nappies for yourself or a loved one, here is a guide to doing it effectively.

Washing an adult nappy doesn’t need to be a complicated process or a resource-heavy one. Take a simple approach to cleaning them and as long as your nappies aren’t stained or smelly, then what you’re doing is working just fine, don’t change anything.

If you’re just starting your incontinence journey or are experiencing some stains or smells on your adult nappies, you might find the tips below helpful. You can also contact us for personal how-to-wash adult nappies tips if you ever need them. We love to help ensure you get the most from your nappies so you continue using them.

Washing adult nappies

The first thing you need to know about washing adult nappies is that it takes two loads. The first wash is a short 30-minute wash, and then a long wash with enough detergent for the load in each cycle. There are a few things to consider with each of these cycles. For the finer details, let’s look at the whole process from start to finish:

After use/storing dirty adult nappies

Take the nappy off, and remove any solids into the toilet. Do NOT rinse the nappy, even if it has solids on it. Rinsing it will make ammonia and bacteria to grow. Stack all of your adult nappies in a basket, something with holes like a laundry basket works best and will produce less smell. Using a bucket with a lid will trap the smells. When you take the lid off the urine smells linger for a long time. Also, a bucket with a lid will create a dark moist environment, which is more likely to grow mould.

Start your first short wash

Wash your nappies through a short cycle daily and once you find your routine it will get easier to do this. If you’re not using adult nappies overnight you can do the short wash in the morning or in the evening. If you’re using them overnight, you will need to run them through a warm (40-degree) short wash first thing in the morning. Overnight urine is quite concentrated and can eat away fabric very quickly and the smells can embed into the fabric too.

The short wash is best to run on warm with enough detergent for the size of the load (check your detergent label). This short wash is different to running a pre-wash on the machine before the main load. This should be a separate cycle that runs for 20 – 40 mins (or longer if that’s your only option). This ensures all the dirty water is removed from the machine before the long wash starts. Once the short wash is finished you can take the nappies out and store them in a basket until the next day to wash with more nappies. Or put them on for a long wash straight away (preferred).

If you’re worried about stains, you can add products like Vanish, Napisan, etc, to boost the detergent and better remove the stains.

Start your second long wash

The long wash should be run at least every second day. Once your adult nappies have been through the short wash, if you don’t have enough for a full load you can add the family washing in to bulk out the load. This is more important when using a front loader, as they work on enough items in the machine to agitate each other. When adding other items to the wash, try and choose light-coloured soft items. Adding dark towels and clothes or denim items can leave dark lint balls/pilling on the inside of the nappies.

This long wash should be between 1.5 – 3 hours, with enough detergent for the load. If you’re adding the family washing in, make sure you add enough detergent for them too. The long cycle can be run in cold or warm water. However, if you want to wash in cold water, it’s best to choose a detergent that is designed for cold water like cold power, or add a booster like Vanish into the detergent.

Some things to note when washing incontinence products

Warm (40-degree) washing will generally give better results than cold water. Cold water is less effective at removing stains. Plus the nappies can develop smells with long-term cold washing. If you live in a cold area and your tap water comes out quite cold. Then you may want to make sure your machine is connected to the hot water service or the machine heats up the water. If you live somewhere hot/warm, the water often comes out of the tap warm/hot anyway. Then tap/cold water with the right detergents may work for you.


Hang your adult nappies on the line or clothes horse and for the best environmental benefits don’t use the dryer. Place your nappy shells on the line white side up in the shade to lessen sun damage to the fabric and colour fade. Peg your inserts on the line in the sun or shade, if you’re having problems getting the inserts to dry quick enough. Bring them inside either in the heating or in summer under a fan or an airconditioned room that you’re in already.

If you do need though, the inserts can be put through the dryer. The shells should not go into the dryer, this can damage the waterproof lining. The shells generally dry pretty quickly in most environments.


Choose a good quality detergent, Omo, Radiant, and Biozet are good options. Cloth nappies will be one of the dirtiest items you wash so you want to make sure you have the right products to help remove the urine, feces and bacteria. Sensitive detergents may require extra amounts and warmer water to work best. Eco-friendly detergents like Earths Choice & Purity are not strong enough to properly clean cloth nappies.

A summary of how to wash your adult nappy collection

You wash them twice, one short wash and one long wash. If you don’t have enough for a full load of nappies, add the soft light-coloured family washing into the long wash to bulk out the load. Then hang everything out together, stuff them, stack them and use them again.

DO NOT soak, rinse or bleach, doing this will damage or shorten the life of the nappies.

Try and wash daily or each second day, there is normally family washing needing to be done, so you may as well add a quick wash of the cloth nappies first then run everything together. It then becomes an easy adjustment adding in cloth nappies. How to wash Modern Cloth Nappies can be a simple process, try not to overthink things. If you start to notice stains or smells then it’s time to look at your routine and make some changes. Contact us if you need any help washing your cloth nappies.

    Your cart is emptyReturn to Shop