Using a Nappy Bucket

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

As with everything else to do with reusable nappies, there are no rules on what sort of nappy bucket to use, or how to use it. Essentially, however, a nappy bucket is simply a bucket with a well-fitting lid. Our most popular bucket has a tight fitting lid but no clips, however if you'd prefer a lockable bucket to secure against unwanted exploration we also sell these. If you have two children in nappies at the same time you may benefit from a larger nappy bucket. One of our advisors had two under two in cloth for a period, and found two buckets invaluable: one upstairs and one downstairs so there's always one close by and you aren't worrying about carrying a dirty nappy or baby around to the bucket!

If you do not have much space at home, you can use a large waterproof wet bag in which to dry pail your nappies - this can simply be stored in the laundry basket or hung off a hook on the back of a door. Just don’t forget to wash the nappies!

Whatever method you use, before putting dirty nappies in the bucket/bag, rinse off any poo which has escaped the liner. Fresh poo is a lot less offensive to deal with than stale poo!

Bucket and wet bag storage options:
Nappy Bucket
£11.99  (90)

There are two common approaches to using your bucket while the nappies are waiting for the wash. You can soak the nappies until wash day, or put them straight into the empty bucket (known as 'dry pailing'). Below we discuss the pros and cons of both.



  • By keeping your nappies wet, stains do not set and so no prewashes are needed.


  • Many nappy manufacturers actively discourage soaking, especially as nappies now contain more fragile components such as PUL and elastic.
  • If you soak using any sodium bicarb, vinegar, bleach or harsh stain removers your warranty will become invalid.
  • The dirty water will need to be tipped down the loo or emptied into the sink or bath - whatever suits your plumbing arrangements. You might not consider the sink/bath very hygienic if you also use the sink for cooking or personal washing purposes.
  • There is a risk of the bucket being tipped over or - conceivably - a child sticking their head into it when full. You can avoid this by placing the bucket out of reach. The best position is inside the bath, where it is not a big problem if it does get tipped over.

If you decide to wash alternate days, change the water in the nappy bucket on the night in between. This prevents it from smelling too strongly.

Wraps should not be soaked or need sanitising agents, as the sanitising agent may affect any waterproofing layer. Rinse them clean as soon as you can, if necessary, to avoid staining and then keep them to one side ready for washing. You will have more problems with wraps staining if you use pad folded rather than pinned or shaped nappies.

To make the nappy bucket smell nicer, add a couple of drops of lavender or tea tree oil to the top of the lid.

Below are nappy sanitiser and specialist detergent options:
Tots Bots Potion
£6.25  (9)

Dry Pailing


  • Your nappies will not smell as strongly when you come to empty the bucket, and there is no need to tip away dirty water into a sink or bath. This also makes it easy to transfer the nappies into a front loading washing machine without the risk of drips.
  • Dry pailing is excellent where space is limited, because you can use a waterproof wet bag rather than a bucket.
  • You can keep soiled wraps in the bucket with your nappies until you are ready to wash them.


  • Because the nappies have not been stored in liquid, they will dry to some extent, and any poo stains will set quite easily. This is where the initial rinse cycle in your washing routine is important, to rinse away the worst bit that may have become stuck while waiting for wash day.
  • In warm weather in particular, you will find that there can be a bit of a “hamster smell” to the nappy bucket if dry pailing - you can mask this effectively by running half an inch of water in the sink to which a couple of drops of lavender oil have been added, then soaking a folded muslin into this mixture. Wring the muslin out loosely and then leave it over the top of your nappies in the bucket - as you add additional nappies, place them underneath this cover. You’ll have the nicest smelling nappy bucket in the area!
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