Friday 20 April 2012

Caring for your Cloth Nappies - Guest Post

The lovely Sarah at Fluffy Dumplings has written a guest post for me about caring for your cloth nappies.  Looking after them well will not only keep them looking and smelling great, but helps them stay super absorbent.

Normally washing does not excite me, not one little bit. Now don't get me wrong I am house proud but I don't get any particular thrill out of washing and cleaning as a housewife/mummy/home maker the washing is just one of my roles.

Cleaning my daughter's nappies, now that's something I do get a little pleasure from. I have no idea why but its with immense satisfaction I see my little wicker basket full of freshly washed and dried cloth nappies. I imagine them all sitting in there fluffing themselves up, trying to be noticed first shouting "pick me, pick me".

So what is the best way to wash your cloth nappies? Here's a little guide:

1) As you remove the cloth nappy from your little one separate any inserts out immediately and place everything into a wet bag. If you use an applix nappy fold back the applix straight away so there is no forgetting.

2) When your wet bag is full empty it straight into the machine or nappy bucket if you are not ready to do a nappy wash yet. If you line your nappy bucket with a mesh bag you can just pick the bag up and place directly into the machine. I wash my wet bag at the same time as I wash the nappies. If you use a nappy bucket you can avoid smells by sticking a piece of cloth to the underside lid of the bucket with a few drops of tea tree oil on it.

3) Now for the washing powder. This area raises a lot of debate so I shall share what works for us. A full dose of washing powder - yes that's right a full dose, why? Because I wouldn't wash my daughters football kit in less powder then I would my normal clothes so why would I wash the dirtiest thing in the house in less powder. Washing powder does not ruin cloth nappies. Its the not rinsing effectively that can cause nappies to not work so well.  Most modern washing machines now use less water to wash and rinse to be more efficient. Unfortunately that means there is a residue of powder that is left behind. So after a wash it is best to do an additional rinse. Check your machine, you probably have a button you can press at the beginning of the wash that will do an additional rinse.

4) Fabric softener? This is very important, fabric softeners such as Lenor are a big no no for cloth nappies. The oils in the softener will affect nappy performance. If you want or like to use a softener then use a clay based one.

5) So which wash cycle shall we use? I have the option to do a pre wash/rinse first on the washing machine. I used this for a couple of months and then stopped. I found it of no benefit what so ever. But, that could well be that my daughter is not yet weaning. So we don't have the concern of 'baking stains' into the cloth itself. I would suggest trying and seeing what works best for you. I wash all our nappies on a 60 degree wash. I want to make sure that all the oils that are naturally excreted onto the cloth are broken down and washed off. If you have brightly coloured new nappies you may want to use a colour catcher sheet for the first few washes. This will save you having to do separate nappy washes for coloured and white nappies - there is no point giving yourself extra work!

6) Now once you have taken your now lovely smelling wet nappies out of the machine its time to dry them.  The best place for drying cloth nappies is in the sunshine. The sun naturally bleaches out any left over stains from the nappies. It also works on food stains on your children's clothes too. I love to hang my cloth nappies out on the washing line to dry. The inserts particularly come out whiter. If you don't have a garden or the weather is not favourable then dry on airers in the home near a warm radiator. You should never dry nappies on a radiator directly.

7) If you have the odd stained nappy then leave it on a window sill to remove the stains. Even the weakest amount of sunlight will help remove stains.

8) Every once in a while unpopper all the poppers on your birth to potty nappies when you put them in the wash. This ensures that the whole of the nappy id being cleaned and prevents any fluff building up in the creases of the nappy part that is poppered up.

9) It is now more then ever important to keep your washing machine in good working order. Once a month I recommend giving your machine a clean. Its very simple so don't panic. A simple table tablespoon if bicarbonate of soda in the draw of an empty machine on a hot wash will clean out any residue or waste left in the pipes and make the drum sparkle. It is also a great deodoriser and will prevent any build up of smells in your machine. Since doing this I now also use bicarbonate of soda to clean my fridge and kettle - it's addictive.

10) Finally after all this you find you have some smelling nappies then the most likely cause is the nappies have not been washed regularly enough in enough washing powder. You can do a strip wash which will remove any oils that have built up on the nappy. A strip wash can be done by adding a small squirt of washing up liquid to the machine. You will need to do several rinses afterwards to remove the washing up liquid. Be prepared for some bubbles escaping from your machine if you put in too much liquid! I have never had to strip wash any of our new nappies but have needed to do so on a couple of not so 'pre-loved' nappies that we bought from a cloth nappy group.  We stripped the nappies and then added a drop of tea tree oil to the next wash in case there was a build up of bacteria on the nappies too.

Go forth and enjoy your next cloth nappy wash day!


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