Unfortunately, washing the nappies is what turns most people away from using them. I will sit here and try and explain to you why washing them is just no big deal, but I know I may not be able to convince you fully. So to those people, I ask you one question, when your baby has pooed on a towel or change table cover, what did you do with it?
From reading through my site, you would have now discovered that modern cloth nappies have come a long way from the old fashioned squares and pins our mothers used to use. And likewise, how we wash them has come a long way. We now know that boiling and soaking and other such things are just not necessary.
Washing instructions are basically the same for all of my nappies, however we do recommned that you refer to the specific instructions for the brand that you have purchased:
- Remove as much solid waste as you can, into the toilet.
- Put the dirty nappy into your 'dry pail'.
- Each 2-3 days, put all the nappies into your washing machine.
- Dry your nappies on the line, clothing rack or in a dryer.
Newborn breastfed poos are very runny and just come out in the wash, so you don't really need to put any effort into removing them. If you really want to though, you can use a Little Squirt spray gun, to spray most of it into the toilet. They are incredibly easy to install, simply hooking into your existing toilet plumbing. Once the baby is on solids, the poo is much more 'formed' and simply slides into the toilet. The other option is to use biodegradable paper liners which you simply flush.
The traditional method is to have a bucket full of a nappy soaker (eg: Napisan) and add the dirty nappies to this solution. This is an excellent method to get them clean, however there are some distinct disadvantages:
- The typically harsh chemicals in the soaker can deteriorate your nappy and affect the absorbency
- Difficult and annoying to fill and empty these buckets
- Full buckets of water pose a drowning risk for inquisitive toddlers
- The chemicals generally used can be expensive
- The chemicals can irritate baby's skin
- The chemicals are bad for the environment
So instead, the common method today, is to 'drypail'. This method is exactly as it suggests: you put the nappy into a bucket with a lid and nothing else. You might think this would smell, but I promise you, with a good lid, there is no smell at all.
Whether you drypail or soak your nappies, I recommend the same washing instructions. A hot wash produces the best results, but in the interests of the environment, a warm wash (40C) is a good compromise. Do not use any specialist nappy soakers, as plain washing powder does the job perfectly and costs a fraction. Only use half the amount of powder you would normally use. Set the machine to do a pre-wash or pre-rinse (depending on your machine) and an intensive final rinse if your baby is prone to nappy rash. If you are only washing 10-15 nappies, don't forget to set the machine to half load. You can add a tablespoon of white vinegar for the final rinse, which makes the nappies softer, but it's not really necessary. Vinegar may wear out the elastic in your nappies faster, so we don't recommend using it as part of your standard washing routine. Do not use any fabric softeners, as they coat the fabric fibres, and decrease absorbency.
The best way to dry your nappies, without a doubt, is on the line. The sunlight kills any bacteria, gets rid of any stains and saves your electricity bill and our environment. If you find that they are drying a bit stiff, try using some vinegar in the final rinse, or hang them out at night, as slow drying keeps them softer.
If line drying isn't an option, you can dry them on a rack, or in the dryer. If you are using the dryer though, keep it on a medium heat setting, as elastic can be weakened with exposure to heat. PUL covers should never go in the dryer, but rolling them up in a towel will get them instantly dry enough to use.