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How should I clean cloth nappies?

Smiley baby lying in a pile of colourful laundry

Wednesday 1 January 2020

Cloth nappies are easy to clean, and washing them is less time consuming than you may think! When it comes to caring for your nappies it’s always a good idea to check the label for washing instructions as this may vary between nappies.

General use of cloth nappies

A liner placed inside the nappy will catch the solid waste.  Then, simply tip the waste down the toilet and flush away and throw the soiled liner in your bin. The wet nappy can be stored dry in a lidded bucket (with a mesh bag if you prefer) or in a wet bag. Pop them in the washing machine when you have a full load ready. Adding a few drops of tea tree oil to the inside of the bucket can help to neutralise any odours.

Washing cloth nappies

Cloth nappies can be washed at 40 degrees although babies under three months old and babies which have been unwell should have nappies washed at 60 degrees. It is not necessary to separate the nappies from the rest of your washing, unless you want to.

Many manufacturers recommend using a non-biological washing powder rather than liquid or gel detergents as powder dissolves quicker and rinses better than liquid. Use about half the normal amount of washing powder as too much will clog the fabric and your nappies will be less absorbent. The amount of detergent, however, will vary depending on the size of the load, washing machine type and water hardness and so you may need to alter accordingly. Soft water areas often need less detergent to be effective whereas hard water areas may need more. It’s better not to use fabric conditioner as this coats the fabric and will gradually reduce the absorbency of the nappy.

It is best to wash new or pre-loved nappies three or four times before using them to remove factory coating in new nappies and for hygiene reasons in pre-loved nappies. This will also help to improve the absorbency so that they don’t leak.

Drying cloth nappies

Drying your nappies on a washing line is the best option as natural sunlight will deodorise, sanitise and naturally bleach them. When that’s not possible you can also place nappies in an airing cupboard, use the tumble dryer on a low heat setting or place them near radiators.

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