The Ultimate Guide to Washing Reusable Nappies

The Ultimate Guide to Washing Reusable Nappies

Are you considering making the eco-conscious switch to reusable nappies? Congratulations on taking a step towards a more sustainable and budget-friendly nappying solution! Once you have your reusable nappies in hand, it's crucial to know how to wash them properly to keep them fresh, clean, and effective. In this comprehensive guide, I'll walk you through the steps to ensure your cloth nappies stay in top condition while minimising your environmental footprint.
 
 
Step 1: Prepping Your Nappies
Before your reusable nappies are ready for their first use, you'll want to give them a quick wash to remove any manufacturing residue and start increasing the absorbency of the inserts. It can take up to 8-10 washes for inserts to reach full absorbency, but don't worry, you can use them after the first wash, just remember to change more frequently to avoid leaks.
 
 
Step 2: The Pre-Wash
So, you've taken a soiled nappy off the bum, now what?
 
1. Remove Solids: For exclusively milk fed babies (breast milk or formula), you can skip this step as their poop is water-soluble, so can go straight into the wash. For older babies and toddlers on solids, dispose of poop in the toilet.
 
2. Store Wet Nappies: Pop the soiled nappy into a 'dry pail' to away the pre-wash. This is an open and airy container (usually a wire basket) which allows good airflow around the nappies. Wet pailing is no longer recommended due to it causing ammonia to form faster and damage to the elastics and PUL (water-resistant outer).
 
3. Pre-Wash: Every 1-2 days you'll want to run a short, hot (40-60 degrees) cycle (30-60 minutes) with a half dose of detergent (note: if using night nappies you should pre-wash every day at 60 degrees due to the large amount of urine). All the soiled nappies you've been collecting in your dry pail will go through this cycle. Once done, you'll want to put the pre-washed nappies into a second 'dry pail' to await the main wash.
 
 
Step 3: The Main Wash
Every 3-4 days you'll be running the main wash. There are a few different factors at play to ensure you get your nappies sparkling clean, let's take a look.
 
1. Load Size: You'll want to make sure your machine is loaded sufficiently (loosely full when dry; 3/4 full when wet) to ensure there is enough agitation to get the nappies clean. Bulk out the wash with small items if you need to e.g. baby clothes, face washers, tea towels etc.
 
2. Cycle Length: The main wash will be a lot longer than your pre-wash, usually 2.5-3 hours. If your machine has a Cottons cycle, this one usually does the job.
 
3. Water Temperature: 40-60 degrees is recommended for the main wash. If using sensitive detergent you'll want to wash at 60 degrees to ensure a good clean (pre and main wash).
 
4. Detergent: Use a good mainstream detergent (personal favourite, and one that is a favourite among a lot of cloth nappy parents, is Persil Ultimate). Use a full dose of detergent, adjusting for your machine size - bigger machine, more detergent.
 
 
Step 4: Drying
Drying your reusable nappies is the final step before they're ready to go back on the bum!
 
Ideally, you'll want to be line drying your nappies in the shade (direct sunlight can damage PUL), but if this isn't possible, or it's just taking way too long in Winter, you can dry them in the dryer on low or no heat (high heat can damage PUL and elastics). Dryer usage can, however, reduce the lifespan of your nappies.
 
 
Have any questions about washing your nappies? Contact me at hello@riverandbee.co.nz or via social media, and I'll be happy to help.
 
Happy washing! Helen x
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