Nappy Wash and Care Guide
Its really not difficult, or time consuming to wash cloth nappies- it will only take you a few minutes every few days, leave the work for the machine to do!
It is all about routine, and once you have that established it is a doddle!
For handy tips and hints, please read the more detailed instructions below:
Prepping your nappies
Nappies should be washed prior to use. Nappies made of natural fibres, such as Bamboo, Cotton and Hemp, should be washed at least 3-4 times before use, as this will improve absorbency. There is no need for drying between washes. Other materials, such as PUL (nappy covers) and micro-fibre can be washed prior to use but it is not absolutely necessary. Nappies of deep colours, such as red, should always be washed separately at first to ensure the colouring does not run.
Storing dirty nappies
Soaking nappies is largely un-necessary, and for most it is inconvenient. Dry-pailing is perfectly acceptable, and many people use a lidded nappy bucket, lined with a mesh bag or a waterproof hanging pail- That way you do not even have to touch the nappies, as you can leave simply empty the bag into the machine ready for the wash.
If you are using pocket nappies, you may need to pull out the insert of the nappy before it goes into the bucket/machine as not all cycles will agitate the inserts enough to cause them to come out on their own. You do not need to do this with Smartipants pocket nappies however, as these are designed to release from the Smart Sleeve on their own.
Most people do a nappy wash every 2-3 days, but it depends how many nappies you have and it is just about getting into whatever routine works for you.
Most people use liners inside their babies nappies. These will either be flushable paper liners, or washable fleece ones. Paper liners are handy for out-and-about use, and some people use them exclusively. Fleece liners are excellent as fleece does not absorb moisture and dries quickly, meaning that wetness passes through it into the nappy keeping babies bottom dry! So, when the nappy is soiled, the liners can either be flushed (paper) or 'emptied' into the toilet- if you stretch the fleece liners over the bowl, poop should separate from them. Failing that, holding it into the toilet bowl, keeping a hold of a corner of it, and flushing should do the job! Then they can be washed along with the nappies when ready.
You will find a washing routine that works for you, and every cloth-nappying parent will have a different method to recommend! Some people do a cold rinse cycle, to remove urine and any 'bits' (and we would advise this also) before doing a wash cycle. This is also a handy hint for keeping your nappies smelling fresh, as the cold water rinses away the urine rather than setting it as hot water can tend to do.
Many people wash at 40° with a 60° wash every so often. Some nappy wrap manufacturers recommend a max temp of 40° for their products (and bamboo fibre is also best washed at a maximum of 40° ) so check labels before use. We advise that you use a non-bio washing powder and that you use only 1/2 or even 1/3 of your regular amount. Excessive laundry detergent may cause a build up on the nappies, affecting their absorbency and causing them to leak. Do not use fabric conditioner ever, for the same reasons.
If you find your nappies are not smelling fresh when you take them out of the machine, or have an ammonia smell, the detergent is not getting rinsed properly. Check the rinse cycle, and if you see suds add a second rinse to your routine ro remove them. You may also be using too much detergent- it is a difficult habit to break for some, but you really do not need to use a lot! If you are still having stink issues, run a hot wash cycle with no detergent.
Nappies can be dried in whatever way you usually dry the rest of your laundry. A tumble drier on a low heat will keep them at their softest, and a dry towel in with the load will speed drying time. However, tumble drying may shorten the life-span of your nappies.
If you will be line-drying or drying on airers near radiators, an occasional splash of vinegar in with the wash will help keep them soft (note, drying wraps directly on radiators may damage their waterproofing abilities, and can scorch bamboo fibre causing it to become 'flat', an airer next to a radiator is a better option). Sun drying (when the weather permits!) is excellent for bleaching out stains, and killing of any leftover bacteria, and will also keep your nappies functioning well for longer.
If you do not have, or do not wish to use a drier, pocket nappies may be the best option for you, as all the components can be separated for super fast drying times.
Always ensure your nappies are thoroughly dry before putting them away.