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A guide to washing your cloth nappies

The dirtier side of cloth - how on earth do I keep them clean?

Do I need to soak the nappies?

Now your mother probably remembers the 80's version of cloth nappies, disposable nappies weren't that big yet. My mother had a huge plastic vat, tubs of some sort of sterilising power, and a big stick. She'd boil the nappies to within an inch of their life. 

These days it's a bit different, you don't need to soak them, or boil them, or bleach them. In fact if you do, you'll likely damage them. 

You'll need some sort of lidded bucket, or wet bag to store them in between washes, but don't soak, put them in dry. This is your "dry pail".

What do I do with my little darlings’ poop?

Well, if you’re exclusively breast feeding, breast milk is water soluble, so do nothing, chuck it in your dry pail/bucket/wet bag and wait for wash day. There's no need to rinse them.

If you’re weaning or using formula, things get a little bit more interesting. You’ll either need to add a liner to the nappy (disposable and fleece ones are available – not from me yet) and throw or flush the poo away. My technique was usually no liner, my shower head would reach the toilet. Blast the poop into the toilet with the shower. Flush away.

And how do I wash them?

So you’ve had your nappies sitting in your bucket for a couple of days – now what? You'll get better results if you pull the inserts out before washing. You can do this as you chuck them into your pail.
For best results chuck the whole lot in the machine, put a small dose of powder in the drawer and do a quick wash on cold. This will rinse the wee out of the nappies. if you haven't pulled your inserts out yet, now is probably a good time to do it. 

Once that’s finished, put a full dose of powder for a heavily soiled load into the drawer, read the instructions on your detergent, you’ll be surprised just how much you are supposed to use. Wash at 40 degrees on your longest wash. If you have any options for extra water – press it. You want to make sure there are no suds left once you’ve finished, this may occasionally mean there's a need for an extra cold rinse at the end.

If you’re just starting out, and only have a couple of nappies, after the first cold rinse you can add other clothes. Just don’t use fabric softener.

Here is our washing nappies guide

- when storing soiled nappies ensure air can circulate
- there's no need to rinse pre-weaning poop, but once there's solid food in there, remove the poop straight away
- removing inserts before storing dirty nappies will make wash day easier
- pre-wash your nappies - on wash day load the machine, add half a dose of powder to the drawer, select a cool short wash and run 
- main wash - ensure you are using the correct amount of wash powder for your areas water type, machine size, and heavy load - select a 40 degree cycle, if your machine has any settings for extra water, or extra rinse, press them - use the longest wash your machine has
- at the end of the cycle, you may need to perform an extra rinse to ensure any suds are removed
- for best results use powder and not liquid or pods
- avoid bleach, and softener
- biological wash powder tends to be better for washing dirty nappies

What about drying them?

Tumble dry on low heat or line dry.

Anything else I should know?

Yes, keep your washing machine clean, once a month give your washer a pamper!