Why are my cloth nappies getting stains?

Using not enough detergent, washing in cold water, and over- or underloading your washing machine can all lead to stains on your cloth nappies.

Some things are more likely to leave stains too. Fruits and vegetables like blueberries, watermelon, strawberry, banana, carrot, and tomato can stain. Nappies with exclusively breastfed (EBF) baby poo and those which have sat in the pail for more than 24 hours without being rinsed might have persistent stains.

We have reliable methods to remove stains and prevent new ones from forming. Following our best-practice Wash Basics advice will help prevent stains. Usually, with adequate agitation and loading, enough quality detergent, some laundry booster/stain remover and warm–hot water (40–60°C), your laundry should come out of the machine stain free.

How to remove stains

Stain removal with chlorine bleach

Chlorine bleach oxidises and removes certain stains easily. The Clean Cloth Nappies™ Sanitise information and tables provide the correct quantities to use. Why do you need the correct quantities? So that the process actually works and you don’t damage your laundry.

Before and after of a white t-shirt with a fruit stain. The stain was removed using the Clean Cloth Nappies Chlorine Bleach Sanitise® method

Stain removal with oxygen bleach

Soak inserts only in a laundry booster/ stain remover product (for example Vanish) for a short time prior to washing. Follow the directions on the packaging and do not exceed the recommended contact time. Do not soak PUL covers.

Add laundry booster/ stain remover to the wash cycle in addition to detergent. This can be done for pre wash and/or main wash. These products are effective in warm-hot (40⁰- 60⁰) water. Learn more.

Stain removal using other products

Apply soap stain remover (for example Sard Wonder Soap) prior to or after pre wash. You can also use standard bar soap.

Use a spray stain remover product as directed, prior to pre wash.

Run out of Sard Stain Remover soap?
Don’t worry, any bar of soap will achieve the same outcome!

Image source: Compound Interest

See the Chlorine Bleach and Oxygen bleach vs Chlorine Bleach pages for more information.

How to prevent stains checklist

If you are getting stains on your nappies, check that you’re doing the following.

Why is loading important?

Sufficient surface area and friction, along with detergent and water remove soiling. Having the right amount of items in your washing machine when you run the main wash is important as the surface area influences the amount of friction that occurs.

Not having enough items in the machine results in inadequate surface area and excess suds. The surfaces of the items don’t hit each other, which means there is not enough friction to remove soiling.

Having too many items in the machine means the items are unable to move around freely. The surfaces of the items don’t hit each other and there is not enough friction to remove soiling.

Can’t I just put it out in the sun?

You shouldn’t need to rely on the sun to remove stains, that’s the job of the washing machine, detergent and stain remover product. Learn more.