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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 occassionally 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.

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!