Washing and Caring for your Modern Cloth Nappies
Washing and caring for your nappies can be easy once you get the hang of it.
Ensuring that your nappies are well cared for is important for maintaining them as well as the hygiene of your nappies.
General washing of cloth nappies is more simple then you think.
Nappies of natural fibres may require a few washes from new to build up the absorbency of the natural fibres.
Simply place wet nappies into an airy dry pail. Rinse solid nappies and then place them in the dry pail. Prewash daily on a short cycle with 1/2 detergent. Main wash on day 2-4 (ensuring correct loading) on a long cycle with full detergent. For more information you can look at the Clean Cloth Nappies website!
Each nappy brand has their own set of wash instructions, which can void individual brand warranty if they are not cared for.
Please see below for brand specific wash and care instructions.
Recommended wash products: Eco Store Laundry powder (double dose), OMO/Persil Eco Active Liquid, Rockin' Green Platinum powder, Sunlight or Sard soap.
Take off the bowel motion with toilet paper or knock it into the toilet (you can use a glove - see our blog "GIMMICK or GOD SEND?") or an old dishwashing brush. Hand rinse nappy if you please or if heavily soiled or heavily urinated on.
For taking off excess poop sunlight soap is excellent - a quick scrub and your nappy will avoid stains.
Then, put nappies into a bucket or basket with air flow until you are ready to wash (leave a maximum of 2.5 days). You can soak if you would like but this is not recommended so much these days for hygiene reasons, at the end of the day, the choice is yours. Soaking over time will create more wear and tear on your nappies. Sometimes I soak my inserts.
If you use a disposable liner (bamboo and 100% compostable) then you take this off and you can rinse your nappy/insert and put it in the basket.
Every 24-48 hours (leave nappies a maximum of 2.5 days) you can prewash your nappies for a short cycle (30-45 minutes) to remove access. Max temperature of 30 degrees and only use half the recommended dose of detergent for your machine. This is a good idea if you put your nappies in with other items on a main wash. It also depends on your washing machine on if and how you want to prewash.
It is recommended to do a 1-2 hour heavy long cycle at the maximum of 40 degrees if you are including the PUL outer printed shell of the nappy. Use the recommended dose of laundry liquid. Or double if using an eco-friendly option. Add other items if your nappies do not fill over 3/4 of the machine when wet.
Nappy inserts and the shells can be put in the dryer. The shells should only be put onto a low heat option. Over time, a dryer will cause wear and tear and the shells do dry very quickly on the washing line. The inserts can be tumble dryer as well as booster inserts. Use the delicate setting for this.
- Nappies should be dry pailed in an open container available to light and air flow. Remove any soiling and rinse leftover solids from nappies.
- Pre-Wash your cloth nappies on a cycle of 30-40 (max 60) degrees with a half dose of detergent. Follow with a full intensive cycle with the recommended amount of a detergent (max 60 degrees). We recommend a good quality detergent (no soap flakes or similar). Eco detergents are not desirable as they are not as efficient at getting nappies clean. Be sure to follow the instructions on your detergent. Use a full dose for your machine and load size. If you find your nappies are not looking or smelling clean you may need to consider adding extra detergent.
- Hang nappies to dry. Avoid using the drier on covers.
- Do not leave nappies longer than 48 hours before completing a full wash on them. Nappies left longer than 48 hours will not be covered under warranty for signs of deterioration. This includes nappies that are prewashed and left. Nappies that are prewashed and stored should still be fully washed within 48 hours.
If your nappies do not look clean or develop smells we recommend considering the following:
- changing your detergent in particular if you are using an eco detergent.
- washing on a warm cycle rather then cold.
- using more detergent and ensuring there is enough water being used in the cycle. Many front loaders do not add enough water to the cycle.
Be aware that nappies showing signs of stains and poor wash will not be covered by warranty as this is a sign of inadequate care.
Using the Dryer
Depending where you live, or the inevitable wet and cold of winter, you may need to use a dryer for your nappies. Although, we recommend you avoid it as much as possible.
If you must use the dryer make sure you take the following into account:
- Inserts: inserts can go into the dryer, even on a hotter setting (beware it may lead to excess shrinkage). You may even want to throw your nappies in for ten minutes after a day of drying to make sure they are really as dry as possible or to soften up the bamboo.
- Nappy Shells should not be placed in the drier. This will void your warranty.
Flush those Solids
Seems pretty straightforward, right? Poo goes in the loo.
Simple when we’re talking solids. Not so easy if it’s newborn breastfed poo.
If it’s breastfed newborn poo, it’s water soluble, so there’s no need to flush (that would be almost impossible!) or to rinse by hand. You just need to run your nappies through a rinse cycle in the machine prior to washing them. This will create a “poo soup”, but it will get rid of excess soiling prior to a thorough wash.
It’s a similar concept to rinsing dirty dishes in a sink full of water, prior to running a sink full of fresh water to properly clean them.
Once your baby shifts to solid foods, their poo will begin to solidify and you’ll start to find nuggets in the nappy. The joys!
To simplify this task, you can:
- Use a fleece liner– solid poo will roll off into the toilet.
- If the poo is somewhat less than solid, you’ll need to rinse the nappy, which can be done easily with a nappy sprayer. A nappy sprayer is a hose that connects to your toilet via the compression water valve behind the toilet.
- Use a biodegradable liner, which may be flushed under certain conditions. Please check with your liner manufacturer for specific conditions on flushing.
If your baby is sick, flushing poo can seem quite impossible. Diarrhoea is messy, smelly and sticky. For such occasions, a liner can be a real boon, as can the nappy sprayer.
Human faeces contain bacteria so it is crucial to deal appropriately with poo. Never throw it in the compost and always wash your hands immediately after changing a nappy or dealing with dirty nappies.
Please remember: Solids should be flushed regardless of the type of nappy used.
After flushing or spraying any solids into the toilet, give your nappy a quick rinse under the laundry tap prior to storing in a dry nappy bucket or a wet bag. This will help to minimise staining and cut down on smell. It is also a really important step towards preventing fabric deterioration.
There is no need to soak your nappies, and having a tub or bucket full of water can create a hazard for children, so it is better to store them in a dry nappy bucket or wet bag.
If the smell is causing an issue, you can use a few drops of any essential oil in the bottom of the bucket. If you live in a humid climate, be sure to leave the nappy bucket lid ajar (or the wet bag open) to prevent mould from growing.
Try not to store your nappies unwashed for more than two days.
Once you have enough nappies for a wash (usually every 1-2 days), put your nappies through a warm pre-wash (rinse cycle) in the machine. This gets rid of any excess urine and poo. It has recently been suggested that half-strength detergent during this rinse cycle can assist in a more efficient wash cycle (Step 4).
Cold water may be used for this process, but warm water is recommended as it helps to loosen the fibres of the fabric and release the soiling.
Avoid hot water, as this will contribute to setting of stains.
After the pre-wash (rinse cycle) has finished, your nappies should remain in the machine and be put through a normal/long wash cycle up to 60°C. You should use the amount of detergent recommended by the detergent manufacturer for your load size and water level.
Your washing machine should finish the wash cycle with a rinse, which will rid the nappies of any excess detergent.
It is important to wash your nappies on a long cycle as prolonged exposure to water, heat, detergent and agitation is the best method for getting your nappies thoroughly cleaned. A quick, cold wash won’t cut it!
Steer clear of detergents with additives designed to stay in the fabric after the wash, like softeners (which can reduce absorbency) and brighteners or fragrances (which might cause issues for a baby’s sensitive skin).
Nappies can be line dried, or tumble dried at a temperature not exceeding the manufacturer’s recommendations.
For best results, nappies should be line dried. Apart from saving power, this has the added benefit of exposing the nappies to UV, which acts as a natural sanitiser and bleacher, whitening your nappies and killing off germs. It also rids nappies of any musty smells.
Note that in hot weather dry shells out of direct heat to avoid sun damage.