Reusable Nappies | Wash & Care TipsHow do I wash cloth nappies?
On a regular cycle, wash your baby's nappies in the washing machine. To kill as much of the bacteria as possible, set the temperature to 60 degrees C.
As the nappies may not get as clean, don't overload the washing machine, because the friction between them could make the fabric bobble. You can fit up to 24 nappies in one wash for the majority of machines.
The nappies should smell fresh and clean when you take them out of the washing machine. If they still smell like dirty nappies, rewash them. Bad smells can mean that the nappies contain lingering bacteria, which may irritate your baby's skin or cause nappy rash
Should I do a separate nappy wash?
Nappies with poo on them should not go with other washing in the machine, doing a separate nappy wash is always better. However, you could apply them to a load of clothes or linen if you have a couple of nappies that are just wet and not soiled. That’s really up to you.
Tip - Store your dirty nappies in a wet bag or nappy bucket until you have a full load.
You’ll make life easier for yourself if you get nappies ready to be washed before you store them. Then you can simply empty the bucket or bag of dirty nappies into the machine without having to handle them again.
You'll no doubt come up with a laundry schedule that works for you, but most parents find that washing nappies every other day works well. It's more practical than keeping up with a daily cycle, while still being often enough to avoid a stockpile of dirty nappies building up.
How many loads you'll need to do on each wash day depends on how many nappies your baby goes through. However, as a rough guide, you'll probably need to do about two loads every other day while your baby is a newborn, and one load every other day by the time they’re 6 months.
How do I deal with poo?
You won't need to worry about your baby's poo if you're breastfeeding, particularly when they’re tiny. It's going to be really loose and there's not going to be too much of it, so it's going to wash out quickly. But as they get older or if you’re using formula this will be a different story and you will need to extract as much poo as you can before you put your baby's nappies in the wash.
For reusable liners, tip any loose poo into the toilet and then wipe or rinse off the rest. Any poo that gets onto the nappy itself can be dealt with in the same way.
Some ways to remove poo from a liner or nappy:
- The flush in the loo to rinse poo off a nappy
- Depending on your bathroom you may be able to use the showerhead held over the loo to rinse the nappy
- You could also use a spatula (used only for this purpose) to scrape the poo off
Should I soak cloth nappies before washing them?
Some parents soak soiled cloth nappies and reusable liners for a few hours before washing, to help with stain removal. However, it's not usually necessary.
If you do want to soak your baby's nappies, you should also only use plain water. Adding extra stain removers, including vinegar, bicarbonate of soda, and bleach, can damage your nappies and make them wear out faster.
Do I need special detergent for washing cloth nappies?
With many distinct views about the sort of detergent to use and how much of it you can use, there is a lot of controversy about this. To wash your reusable nappies, some cloth nappy advisors recommend using fragrance-free , non-biological powdered detergent. There's no evidence, however, that using bio-washing powders can irritate the skin of your infant, so it's up to you. You might have read that for washing nappies, you can use less detergent than you would use for the rest of your laundry. The premise is that detergent can build up on the nappies, capture odors and potentially irritate the skin of your infant. If you're washing at 60 degrees C and your machine rinses well, it's doubtful that your nappies will have a build-up of detergent. So, there's no reasoning why the usual dose of detergent shouldn't be used.
Don't use fabric softener or two-in-one detergents on reusable nappies. These coat the fibres of fabrics to make them soft, but this also makes them less absorbent. Don't use bleach either, as it's bad for your baby's delicate skin, as well as the nappies themselves.
How should I dry cloth nappies?
Dry your nappies outside on a laundry line if possible, as the sunshine will help to lighten up any stains. The next best choice is to dry them on a rack inside, or in your airing cupboard. It may take a little longer to dry the nappies, but it is still a gentle technique that will help protect your nappies.
Bamboo nappies should never be dried on a hot radiator, as it can damage the fibres and shorten the life of the nappy.
Do I need to wash new nappies before I use them?
You'll need to wash them before using. Just like towels, nappies when they're brand new aren't very absorbent. Place them with a small amount of detergent in your machine and run through two full washes. It's not necessary for you to dry them in between.