I’ve written before about why we chose to use modern cloth nappies with our babies. I thought I would write a little about washing, drying and maintaining the nappies, for anyone out there interested in trying them with their bubs.
We mainly use baby behinds hemp one size fits all, and itti bitti snap in styles. There are a couple of other types floating in the mix, but these are the main types. They are all washed in the same way. We also use face washers/cloths instead of disposable wipes.
So after a nappy change, I rinse any solids (or not so solid when they were pre-solid food) straight into the toilet. I have a very handy partner who loves to DIY and he attached a hose to the toilet that helps no end with this process! Once the nappy is rinsed I place it straight into a bucket in the laundry, put the lid on and leave it. I dry pail – which simply means I don’t soak the nappies, but I wash at least every second day. If you leave it longer, the urine can wreck the elastic in the nappies, and the stink increases also. Also, this past year I’ve had two in nappies, so it has often meant I’ve washed every day.
Once the bucket is full, I place them all in the washing machine and do a rinse cycle. I put the nappies and the covers all in together, along with the cloths and nappy liners (if I’ve remembered to use them!). Nappy liners are great – you can purchase eco disposable ones, but I prefer to use reusable ones. Super easy to make – strips of fleece material, you know, that jumpers are made from. The solids come off the liner a lot easier than the nappy.
After the rinse, I usually choose the 30-40 degree setting and an intensive rinse. Most of the manufacturers seem to recommend no higher than 60 degrees (Celsius) for the nappies, to look after the elastic. There seem to be differing opinions about using cold or warm wash, and on using washing powder/liquid. I use whatever washing liquid we have in the laundry, although sometimes I manage to score some Rockin’ Green, which is designed for use with modern cloth nappies, but is often really hard to get. We always have eco/green washing liquid in the cupboard. Less is definitely more when it comes to MCNs – too much detergent will build up in the nappies, and they become stinky and less absorbent, and you’ll have to do a strip wash.
The nappies do well when you can dry them in the sunlight – the UV helps whiten them and is good for getting rid of bacteria also. However, if you need to use a dryer no problem. I find our hemp nappies soften up really well after a tumble in the dryer. Just don’t put the PUL covers in. They dry so quickly anyway, just whack them on the clothes horse. We didn’t have a dryer until our second one came along, and they were both in nappies. Couldn’t keep up!
I mentioned a strip wash above. This is for when the nappies become a bit stinky and aren’t absorbing very well. Wash them as normal and then put them through a couple of washes with no detergent. Some people recommend using a small amount of dish washing liquid in the first wash. I sometimes use the Canesten Laundry Rinse also, particularly if the kids haven’t been well.
We don’t use cloth 100% of the time – if the kids are sick, if I’m sick – we do use disposables. But we do our best to use cloth most of the time. How about you? Any tips on washing and drying your cloth nappies that aren’t mentioned here?