Sunshine makes cloth nappies shine!
I have seen SO many forum and community posts asking about how to wash your modern cloth nappies (MCN's) most effectively.
I am sad to say that there is a fair bit of misinformation out there however I am here to sift through it all for you and give you the facts!
Here is our F&Q on washing your modern cloth nappies!
1. How do I get the smell of urine out of my cloth nappies?
The biggest challenge with MCN's is that faint smell of ammonia that tends to hang around after several uses - particularly your night time nappies. In this instance, I suggest washing in a warm wash (or soak in a warm bucket which you tip into the machine to save energy) with your normal detergent. Add 2 - 3 capfuls of either Eucalyptus, Tea Tree or Lavender oils and 1/2 cup of bicarb soda.
Wash as normal then hang out in the SUN SHINE to dry. This will help to aerate the cloth.
Some of our snappy modern cloth nappies!
2. My nappies feel funky, like there's soap scum on them. How do I get this off?
If your nappies are starting to feel more stiff and less soft then its time to do what's called a "Strip Soak". There are several schools of thought on this - some say to add one or two capfuls of dishwashing liquid to your normal washing cycle to help strip the soap scum off.
Personally I prefer to do a soak cycle (or soak in a bucket) with 50/50 water and dilute white wine or apple cider vinegar. I don't recommend using cheap white vinegar as there is some speculation about how it is made and it may not be that eco-friendly!
Soak the nappies or inserts overnight in this mix then run through a normal wash cycle with your normal detergent.
To help prevent future build up, add 1 cup of dilute white wine vinegar to the final rinse cycle. Lemon juice works really well too.
Hang in the sun to dry for the day.
Smell the flowers with our dry soak recipe!
3. My nappy bucket STINKS! How do I control the smell?
The danger with nappy buckets full of water is that kids can topple in and there is danger of them drowning. Avoid this by doing what is called "Dry Soaking".
Dry soaking is a phrase coined meaning that the nappies are "sluiced" (solids are hosed into the toilet or sink) and then the soiled nappy is put into the bucket with a dry solution to help control the odour.
Dry pailing means similar but often times nothing is added and the wash is done daily. If you can't do your nappies daily then dry soaking may work better for you.
Recipe for Dry Soak Solution:
1 cup dried lavender flowers; ground
1 cup bicarb soda
1 cup standard biodegradable washing powder or soap flakes
Grind the ingredients together & pour into a shaker or jar. Sprinkle over the soiled nappies when added to the bucket.
You will find you have to get your face right up close to the nappies to smell them now - much better isn't it?
Cloth nappies need more oomph in cleaning
4. Some people have told me "Just wash your nappies with mild soap and water or to use soap nuts" but I find this isn't working. What do I do?
I love soap nuts! They are one of nature's most wonderful inventions.
Having said that, I personally have found them to be insufficient when dealing with ammonia drenched cloth nappies or kids clothes for that matter. They don't pack quite enough punch to use on their own with successful results. So if you've been told "just use soap nuts" I am afraid you may find its just not enough.
We use the EnviroCare Earth Care range at home and in our business. They have wonderful products that use things like mineral salts for alkalinity, citrus pith for whitening and brightening and bicarb soda as a booster. I would recommend a small amount of something like that WITH your soap nuts to boost the cleansing power.
Alternatively, do a soak cycle with your soap nuts and add in 1 cup of bicarb soda to help boost their cleaning power. For odours, add 1 cup of vinegar in the rinse cycle and 2 - 3 capfuls of Lavender oil. The nappies will come out smelling fresh and clean.
Save energy by washing nappies in cold
5. What temperature should I be washing my nappies on?
If you have modern cloth nappies with ANY PUL (plastic lining) built in you should NEVER wash above 30 degrees as the PUL will start to melt and your nappies will begin leaking.
Do a warm soak cycle once a month with a strip wash (above) for a really good clean to remove all the built up soap scum. If you do this monthly you should only need to wash in cold water with a reliable and suitable eco-friendly detergent. We love EnviroCare EarthCare range for this reason! Its got THE BEST ingredients list I've seen - things I can understand and know the name of, no scientific chemical compounds and lots of lovely natural goodies with cleaning powers aplenty.
If you don't have nappies with PUL in them, like an all in one for example, then you can do a hot wash every so often for a really good clean. Australian Laundry Standards state that 72 degrees for approximately 8 minutes is enough to kill nearly all bacteria. This isn't possible at home but if you are ever worried and you're not using any plasticised type nappy designs, you could boil a large pan of water & do a very hot soak for an hour then add it to your machine once its cooled a little.
Once again though you should never wash PUL nappies above 30 degrees - same goes for drying too! If you must dry your nappies in a dryer be sure to do so at a low tempreture setting.
We seperate the inserts (which are all natural fibres) and the outer nappies so that we can do two cycles full of each and hot wash the inserts when we need to without worrying about melting the nappies.
In our business we hot wash the inserts in keeping with Australian Laundry Standard ASO 4146 and we use natural disinfectant for the cold wash cycles so that your nappies are always hygienically cleaned.
Well I hope this has cleared up some of the confusion for you about how to wash your modern cloth nappies. If you have any questions or a problem with your cloth nappies, why not drop us a line here? We'd be happy to help!
Love and fluffy bums,