What care do cloth nappies need?
To maintain the quality of your nappies, it is important to follow the specific wash and care instructions provided by the manufacturer. Below is a general guide we have found works for us:
- At nappy change, take off the nappy and drop in the nappy bucket. If you’re using nappies with Velcro tabs, seal them over on themselves and drop into the nappy bucket. If you do not close the laundry tabs, you will open the washer to find that all the velcro from all the nappies have stuck together.
- If there are solids, remove these first. If you use a flushable liner you can just tip it down the toilet. If you use a washable liner or no liner at all, scrape the solids of with a tissue and flush it down the toilet. If there’s still a lot of excess poo, run the nappy under cold water.
- Put nappies in an empty nappy bucket – no water! Dry bucketing is recommended. The lid will stop any odours and a dry bucket is much lighter to carry. Soaking your nappies in Nappysan or other such laundry products will damage the elastic in your nappies & covers and some products are harsh on fabric which all shortens the lifespan of your nappies. Modern washing machines and powders have dramatically improved in recent years so soaking isn't required. On heavily soiled nappies it may be advisable to set your machine to the pre-wash mode first if available.
- When you have enough nappies, boosters, washable liners and wraps for a load place them in the washing machine. Use the recommended amount of detergent for the size of your load. You should not use commercial fabric softeners as these coat the nappy fabric and reduce absorbency.
- The next step is completely up to you. Ideally, you start with a prewash rinse cycle in warm or cold water before putting the nappies through your normal wash cycle. This will get the worst of the wee out of the nappies before your normal wash. You can then follow this up with an extra rinse. Another option is to just wash the nappies on a normal cold wash or a warm wash. Loading the washing machine in the evening and letting the nappies soak overnight followed by a normal cycle in the morning is also an option (however not recommended as explained above). In the end, it all depends on what you prefer.
- Pegging you nappies on the washing line and in the sun is the best method for drying and naturally bleaching, deodorising and sanitising your nappies. As a new mum, this was one of the things I was the most amazed at... the stains just vanished!
- Wash your nappies before first use as this increases their absorbency. Most nappies don’t reach full absorbency until they have been washed 5 - 10 times.
- If you want to keep your nappies really soft, a quick 10 minutes in the tumble dryer before hanging out will do the trick. If you use a tumble dryer regularly, ensure you only use the dryer on a warm setting. Do not tumble dry on hot!
Additional Tips and Helpful Advice
- WASH COLD - Because the detergents we use today are so effective you may be able to cold wash most of the time with the more natural fabrics and then give them a bit of a boost wash in warm water every few weeks.
- NOT TOO MUCH POWDER - Reasons for smelly nappies include too much washing powder. This can cause a residue build up in some nappies especially synthetic man made nappies (microfiber) which may decrease their absorbency and be irritating to your baby’s skin. Therefore it is normally suggested that synthetic nappies are washed on warm or hot to prevent this.
- ENZYME FREE POWDER - Use a non-biological powder (enzyme free) to wash your nappies. These have less prospect of irritating the skin, however they do still perform as a washing powder. Enzymes found in biological washing powder are used to speed up the chemical reaction and help remove stains. Enzymes however, can remain in the fabric after washing which can cause some to have an allergic reaction.
- PREVENTING SMELLY NAPPIES - To prevent a build up we recommend you regularly use a nappy sanitiser and the recommended detergent dosage. Detergent alone is not enough to ensure that nappies are free from bacteria when washed. Historically nappies were sanitised using heat, this is now not necessary as a sanitiser will kill bacteria at low temperatures.
- SMELLY NAPPIES - If you notice your nappies are starting to smell, what should you do? We would recommend washing your nappies 2-3 times without any detergent (until bubbles are gone). Then wash your nappies using a sanitiser (1-2 teaspoons) in addition to your regular powder (enzyme free). Finally, sunshine is the best sanitizer and whitener of all, so line dry whenever possible.
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