Caring For Nappies
With the vast array of nappies now available on the market there is also a vast amount of recommendations and opinions surrounding the best way to keep your nappies in tip top shape.
Below gives instructions of how best to care for your nappies and includes some troubleshooting guides to help with possible issues with wash routines and usage.
What is very important with cloth nappies is to always follow Manufacturer guidelines, they are who design and stringently test each of their nappies so are always best placed to give the correct care advice.
This is not a "one guide fits all" scenario, people find tweaks and tricks along the way which help get the desired effect.
It is important to store your nappies correctly to prevent damage. Nappies can be stored in one of 2 ways, buckets or wet bags.
Advice is to dry pail nappies, meaning no soaking necessary. Soaking can lead to fibres degrading and PUL (waterproof layer) of nappies becoming damaged.
Wet Bags - often come with a loop to hang from door handles, they come in an array of sizes and great to store nappies out and about and also at home. They can be washed in the washing machine alongside nappies.
Bucket - larger capacity, often used with a mesh bag to help with transfer to washing machine. Various types available on the market. Often come with secure lids for appropriate containment but does require washing out when nappies are placed into machine.
Washing instructions shouldn't need to be complicated, how you end up washing your nappies will depend on wash load, size of washing machine and age or number of children you have. Below will give you the main principles of washing cloth nappies.
If ever in doubt always follow manufacturers guidelines as they will know what works best for their own nappies.
Wash your nappies every other day or 3 days max.
Make sure your machine machine is 2/3 - 3/4 full when wet to give enough room to wash but have enough weight to agitate well together.
Main principles of washing is rinse, long wash, rinse.
Rinse: This program on your machine may be called prewash/rinse or similar, essentially what we are doing by running this cycle is removing a large amount of the soiling on the nappy.
Make sure it is a cool/cold wash as this will prevent staining.
You will not require washing powder at this point as that will be added in the main wash.
After the rinse if you find the washing machine is not full enough you are then able to add other small items of clothing to bulk out a wash if you need to.
Long wash: Nappies like lots of water and agitation to get them nice and clean so it is important to load your washer with a good amount of washing but also give the correct amount of powder based on your machine size and water softness. Always dose for heavy soiling.
Put the washer on a nice long wash, 2.5hrs min and let it work its magic.
Rinse: The final rinse will be to rid the nappies of any residual powder. should you find that at the end of this cycle you are still seeing bubbles/suds in the machine then an additional rinse may be required and then on the next long cycle ensure you decrease the amount of powder used ever so slightly.
When the nappies come out of the machine they shouldn't smell of anything, smelling the powder can mean there may be residual powder within the nappies. (this is obviously dependant on the brand of powder used)
If your baby is under 3 months old or you have multiple children in cloth nappies then wash at 60◦ otherwise a 40◦ will work fine.
How you dry your nappies is extremely important for the lifespan of the nappies themselves. As nappies are often made from heat sensitive elements it is not best practice to expose nappies to high temperatures especially that of dryers or direct heat sources like radiators.
Nappies are best aired on an arier or outside on the line (weather permitting) the fresh air and breeze drys nappies quicker than were they inside.
Airers can be placed close to heaters should you need them to dry slightly quicker but do not put nappies directly on them.
Heated airers are also not advised, if you are using them make sure you put a towel over the bars and the nappies on top to protect the nappy.
Tumble dryers are a no no with most nappies (again check manufacturers guidelines)
Why? Nappies with a PUL layer are likely to delaminate or melt if exposed to direct heat, so the damage will be immediately apparent, heat damage to natural fibres like bamboo may not be immediately apparent but over time balding can occur as the heat breaks down the natural construction of fibre and it will mean the nappy will no longer be as absorbent.
As mentioned before always follow manufacturers guidelines.