A Step-By-Step Guide
Are you considering switching to cloth nappies for your little one but feeling unsure about how to properly wash and care for them? Look no further! In this step-by-step guide, I’ll provide top tips and will cover everything you need to know about how to wash cloth nappies.
From understanding the basics of cloth nappies and the environmental benefits of making the switch, to the costs associated with cloth nappies and troubleshooting tips for common issues.
I will walk you through each stage of the washing process, from pre-washing new cloth nappies to post-washing care. Get ready to become a pro at keeping your baby’s cloth nappies clean and fresh while saving money and reducing your environmental footprint.
Understanding the Basics of Cloth Nappies
Reusable diapers are made from sustainable materials such as bamboo, hemp and cotton. The fibres are highly absorbent. There are various types to choose from:
The three varieties can be used as night nappies, just add booster pads to diapers to catch extra liquid. I started using reusable diapers when my newborn was 3 weeks old. Reusable diapers can last you years if treated well (i.e. washed on a low heat and not put in a tumble dryer).
Pros and Cons of Using Cloth Diapers
Here are the pros and cons of using nappies as I see it:
- They offer eco-friendly solutions that reduce waste, making them a popular choice for environmentally-conscious parents.
- They are cost-effective in the long run, saving money on disposable diapers as they can be handed down to siblings or sold to other parents, saving money £200-£500 per year.
- Great for toilet training as they teach your toddler when recognise when they are wet.
- Many brands are easy to use with Velcro straps or poppers.
- They require more frequent washing and drying compared to disposable options, which can be time-consuming.
- Reusable solutions require additional accessories like liners, pads and covers for added convenience.
- They can be bulkier and less convenient for travel or outings.
- Another concern for us was frequent nappy rash, which can occur if not changed frequently (i.e. night times)
Environmental Benefits of Switching to Cloth Nappies
The environmental benefits, switching to reusable diapers is a game-changer. Just imagine the impact of saving 4500 of disposable nappies from ending up in landfills every year, in the UK that’s eight million dirty nappies that takes 100 years to decompose! Reusable diapers are not only sustainable but can also be passed down to younger siblings or sold to other parents for reuse.
Costs Associated with Cloth Nappies
Being honest, and this is my opinion, unless you buy second hand or are given cloth nappies, you save money (£200-£500 per year) only when you use them with siblings. It’s important to note though that part of the benefit of buying reusable nappies are that you are saving the planet and teaching your children how to be eco-conscious.
Initial costs may include:
- Purchasing reusable diaper £3-16.50 each (if new)
- Inserts £3-7 for a roll
- Accessories (e.g. nappy bag).
Initial Purchase Cost of Cloth Nappies
When it comes to the initial purchase cost of new nappies, it can vary depending on the brand. For example:
Investing in a good quality cloth nappy system can ensure durability and longevity, reducing the need for frequent replacements. Some brands like Bambino Mio also offer starter kits or bundle deals, which can help lower the initial purchase cost.
It’s important to consider the overall cost savings over time when evaluating the initial purchase cost of cloth nappies. As a general rule, you would need around 35 nappies to get started, 5 of which should be suitable for night times.
I bought 40 second hand cloth nappies costing £40 and £20 for the bio-degradable liners and detergent. So far they have all lasted and not had to throw any away.
Cost of Washing and Maintaining Cloth Nappies
The cost of washing and maintaining cloth nappies, there are several factors to consider such as water and detergent costs not including your other laundry when calculating the overall cost.
- Detergent costs = 0.71p per wash
- Water = 31.4p per wash
- Electricity = 26.49p per wash
- Total = 58p per wash
Using eco-friendly laundry detergents such as Eco-Egg which costs £19.99 which give 720 washes can be both cost-effective and environmentally friendly. Proper maintenance, including sun drying and regular stripping, and using a laundry bag can extend the lifespan of cloth nappies, reducing replacement costs.
How to Pre-Wash New Cloth Nappies
When planning how to wash cloth nappies, to ensure optimal performance and cleanliness, pre-washing new cloth nappies is an essential step. This process helps remove any manufacturing residues and increases the nappies’ absorbency.
- Start by washing the new diapers separately from other laundry items.
- Set your washing machine to a pre-wash or quick wash cycle with warm water, and add the recommended amount of detergent. I personally use 2 scoops of Bambino Mio Laundry Cleanser.
- After the pre-wash, dry thoroughly and use.
How To Wash Cloth Nappies
To ensure the cleanliness and longevity of your cloth nappies, there are essential steps you need to follow.
- Begin by pre-rinsing the diapers to remove any solid waste.
- Use a non bio detergent during the wash cycle, preferably in hot water to kill bacteria and remove stains.
- Avoid using fabric softeners or bleach, as they can damage the nappies’ fibers.
- After washing, dry in direct sunlight to naturally sanitize and eliminate odors.
- Finally, store the clean in a dry and well-ventilated area until their next use.
All you need to do is rinse and repeat every week!
Storing Dirty Cloth Nappies Before Washing
Properly storing dirty cloth nappies before washing is essential to prevent odor and stains. I find using a wet bag or an airtight “dry pailed” lidded bucket from the cheap shop convenient for storing until laundry day.
It’s important not to leave dirty cloth nappies sitting for too long to avoid bacteria growth, so aim to wash them at least twice a week.
For the best results, follow the manufacturer’s instructions on how to store dirty cloth nappies. It’s worth noting that most manufacturers do not recommend soaking in cold water, as a hot wash will effectively remove even the toughest stains.
Remove Stains and Rinse Solid Waste from Cloth Nappies
It’s important to remove and rinse solid waste before moving on to the next step. Remove any solid waste by using a diaper sprayer, bio liner or scraping it off into the toilet.
Avoid using hot water during rinsing as it can set stains and make them harder to remove. Thoroughly rinse to ensure they are clean before proceeding.
Pre-wash Cycle: Soaking Stain Residue
Before the pre-wash cycle I recommend placing all of the nappies into a mesh laundry bag and folding the Velrco tags to prevent any damage to the pad or cover.
- Choose a gentle cycle on your washing machine and avoid using harsh detergents that can damage the fibres.
- Look for detergents specifically formulated for cloth nappies, as they are designed to effectively remove stains and odors. I use the Ego Egg and Bio-D to wash and it’s best to avoid fabric softeners and bleach, as they can reduce the absorbency of the nappies.
- Personally, I find that washing at 30 degrees works well.
Main Wash Cycle: Detergent Temp and Dosage
The main wash cycle plays a crucial role in effectively washing cloth nappies.
- Add your non bio detergent to the washing machine.
- Set the washing machine to a hot water temperature between 40-60 degrees to kill bacteria and remove stains.
- Make sure the machine is filled with enough water to allow the diapers to agitate freely.
- If needed running an extra rinse cycle will ensure all detergent residues are completely removed from the nappies.
Drying/Post-Washing Care of Cloth Nappies
After washing cloth nappies, it is crucial to take proper care to maintain their quality and durability. One important aspect is ensuring that they are thoroughly dried to prevent any mildew or unpleasant odors.
- After washing, hang in a well-ventilated area to ensure thorough drying. Consider using a clothesline or drying rack instead of a dryer to avoid excessive heat, which can damage the fabric and elastics.
- If there are any remaining stains, you can use sun bleaching as a natural and effective method for stain removal.
- Store in a dry and well-ventilated area to maintain their freshness.
- Regularly inspecting them for wear and tear is essential, and be sure to replace any that show signs of damage.
- While tumble drying and using stain removers can be tempting, it’s best to do sparingly as they can damage the fibers and affect their absorbency.
Final Thoughts on Washing Cloth Nappies
Cloth nappies offer an eco-friendly alternative to disposable diapers, helping you reduce your carbon footprint. They can also be handed down to siblings or resold to other parents when you no longer need them.
While there is an initial cost involved, ranging from £122-£577, it pays off in the long run, especially if you have multiple children. However, it’s important to note that reusable diapers can cause nappy rash, be bulky under clothes, and may leak if not properly maintained.
To ensure their absorbency and prevent staining, use super absorbent pads and change your baby regularly. Consider pads or disposables on long journeys or stressful outings (e.g. food shopping).
Line drying cloth diapers in the sun can naturally remove stains and odors. Don’t forget to check diaper covers and inserts for any damage before and after washing.
How to Wash Modern Cloth Nappies
If you’re experiencing odor issues, it’s essential to use a proper detergent and consider adding a pre-wash to remove urine and feces. For stubborn stains, try sunning or using (nappy safe) stain-remover. If you’re dealing with leakage problems, check for proper fit and consider adding additional absorbency pad.
When it comes to your washing machine, avoid using fabric softeners or bleach, as they can damage your cloth nappies. Lastly, for drying concerns, choose line-drying or using a low-heat setting in the dryer to prevent any damage.
How does Washing Cloth Nappies Differ From Conventional Ones?
Washing cloth nappies differs from conventional ones in a few ways. Reusable diapers require prepping before first use and need to be washed separately. They should be washed with gentle detergent and in hot water. Additionally, they may require extra rinses to remove detergent residue.
Avoid Chemical Ammonia Build Up
Avoiding chemical ammonia build is important as it can leave the diapers smelling and less absorbent. it is important to follow a few key steps.
- First, pre-rinse the nappies to remove any solids or excess waste.
- Next, use a natural non-bio detergent. It’s also crucial to avoid using fabric softeners or bleach, as these can cause ammonia build up. In the washing process, opt for hot water to help remove bacteria and odors.
- After washing, make sure to rinse thoroughly to eliminate any detergent residue.
- Lastly, hang up to dry in direct sunlight, as the UV rays help kill remaining bacteria.
Can you put cloth nappies in the washing machine?
Cloth nappies can indeed be washed in the washing machine. Before placing them in the machine, it is recommended to rinse off any solid waste. Use a gentle detergent specifically designed for cloth nappies and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for water temperature and drying recommendations.
What to do with the poo from cloth nappies?
To properly wash cloth nappies, it’s important to address solid waste first. Use a toilet sprayer or scrape off any solid waste with a biodegradable liner before washing. Never flush the liner down the toilet as it can cause plumbing issues. Disposing of solid waste ensures effective and hygienic washing.
Should I soak cloth nappies before washing them?
Soaking cloth nappies before washing is optional but can aid in stain removal. If you choose to soak, use a solution of water and mild detergent. Soaking for 1-2 hours or overnight can help loosen stains and odors. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions for washing and care.
Final Thoughts on washing cloth nappies
Washing cloth nappies can seem daunting at first, but with the right knowledge and steps, it’s a simple and effective process. By choosing cloth nappies, you are not only making a sustainable choice but also teaching your baby to love the planet.
Remember to thoroughly rinse and remove solid waste before washing, choose the appropriate cycle and detergent, and follow proper drying techniques for longevity.
If you want more in-depth information on natural washing detergent, check out my blog on “Ultimate Guide To Organic Laundry Detergent” where I cover different eco brands, troubleshooting tips, and more. Happy nappy washing!
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