What care do cloth nappies need?
Cloth nappies are better for the environment, save you money compared to the use of disposables, feel comfortable against babies skin, keep babies bum dry and are easy to use!
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:
How to wash your nappies
- 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 disposable liner you can just tip solids down the toilet and or hold the liner in the flush of the toilet. We do not recommend flushing the actual liner but putting it in the bin instead. If you use a washable liner or no liner at all, scrape the solids off and flush it down the toilet. If there’s still a lot of excess poo, run the nappy under cold water in the laundry sink. Some people find an old spatula or scrubbing brush dedicated to this purpose can be hepful.
- Put nappies in an empty nappy bucket – no water! Dry pailing is recommended. No need for a lid unless you prefer to use one. Air circulation around the nappies can actually be helpful in avoiding smelly nappies. Soaking your nappies in Napisan or similar products is not recommended as this can damage the elastic in your nappies & covers. 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. It is however helpful to do a pre wash first before your main wash.
- 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.
- For washing the nappies, ideally, you start with a prewash rinse cycle in warm or cold water before putting the nappies through the main wash. This will get the worst of the wee out of the nappies before your normal wash. A heavy duty setting can be a good idea since nappies should be considered as heavily soiled items. You may need to experiment regarding the temperature of the water and the amount of powder. If using eco powders you may find you get a better clean with warm or hot water and a little extra powder. Even if you choose to wash in cold water, keep in mind that an occasional hot wash can be helpful.
- Pegging your nappies on the washing line and in the sun is the best method for drying and naturally bleaching, deodorising and sanitising your nappies.
Additional Tips and Helpful Advice
- Wash nappies before first use. For natural fibre nappies this increases their absorbency. Most nappies don’t reach full absorbency until they have been washed 5 – 10 times. You can also do an overnight soak in cold water before washing (for the inserts and absorbent parts) as another option to get the absorbency level up quickly. Or alternatively add your new nappies to your usual wash with other items and give them some extra washes this way. There’s no need to dry in between washes. Nappies made of synthetic fibres such as microfibre only need one wash before use to remove manufacturing residues.
- Using a nappy liner with any greasy nappy/barrier creams is a good idea as the creams (unless labelled as cloth safe) can cause a build up in the nappies which can affect their absorbency over time.
- 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!
- If you find that your nappies are starting to get smelly and/or leaky it could be a build up of ammonia or bacteria from nappies not getting clean enough or from a build up of barrier cream. If you have issues like this there are some products which can be helpful in getting your nappies back on track. We would recommend either GroVia Mighty Bubbles or Funk Rock to reset the nappies. You should also see if you can tweak your washing routine to make sure your nappies are getting clean to avoid it happening again
- Using a spoon of Funk Rock or Nappy Fresh Nappy Sanitizer in your pre wash on a regular basis can also help to keep your nappies smelling fresh.