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All about washing


Washing - Frequently Asked Questions

Full washing instructions are enclosed with your nappies, usually on a washing label or the packaging. When you receive your nappies, if you are unsure about your purchases and think you may need to send some back we suggest to wash one only, or one of each type and make sure you're happy with the performance or fit before washing the rest of your order. We can't refund items that have been correctly supplied but have been worn or washed.

Why do I have to wash the nappies before I use them?

We recommend that you wash new cotton nappies three times before use to improve absorbency, more for bamboo or hemp, just once is fine for microfibre and other synthetics. When the fabric is made, the cotton thread is coated with sizing to allow it to run freely through the machinery. Wash as hot as you can (60) at least three times to remove this, it isn't necessary to dry between washes. Your nappies will reach peak absorbency after perhaps a half a dozen or more washes, often more for hemp or bamboo fabrics. You don't have to wash the wraps before use though many prefer to. With any deep coloured nappies (eg Bright Bots), fleece liners or wraps, especially red, it is advisable to wash the wraps separately before use to remove any excess colour. Synthetics tend to hold colour well so usually just one wash will suffice.

If in doubt about your purchases, please wash only one or two to try out as we are unable to accept worn/washed nappies for return for refund.

What will I need?

You will need a nappy bucket or bin with a tightly fitting lid such as a brewing bucket. Some (trash can style) have clips that clamp the lid on Look in your local DIY or cheap shop eg Poundstretcher. You may prefer to get a large one, sufficient to hold around 12-15 nappies. Some people have two smaller ones - one upstairs and one down, others have two, one for wet nappies and one for soiled ones. As nappies are next to your baby's skin a non-bio powder should be used, please don't use fabric conditioner as this will reduce absorbency. Some wraps can be washed at the same temperature as the nappies (60ºC) others, especially wool wraps, require a cooler wash - wool should be washed at 30 which is cooler than body temperature - otherwise it'll shrink. Nappy washing becomes easier once you have established this as part of your routine - some people wash every day, some every two or three days. You may also find that a few additional nappies, or quicker drying flat nappies or synthetic nappies especially for a newborn, will ease the burden of frequent washing and drying.

What do I do about soiled nappies?

If you're breastfeeding a newborn, breastmilk is a very complete meal and produces minimal solid matter with a newborn. Consequently with the frequent small poos your baby produces at this age many people simply don't use a liner for a newborn but pop the lot in the washing machine; let the machine do the work. If bottle feeding you'll have slightly more solid poo, you can either rinse in the bowl of the toilet or tip it off if solid enough. Alternatively you could use a flushable biodegradable liner, these are made from paper or cellulose. The liner which contains the poo can then be hygienically flushed down the toilet into the sewage system - we suggest tear it as you pop it in to reduce the risk of blockages. If any poo remains on the nappy, this can be rinsed in the loo by holding tightly on to a corner and flushing. The nappy can then be placed in your nappy bucket. These liners can be used with a cess pool, we used them with ours very effectively so can testify they do not block the system - provided your plumbing is in good order ! You can also wash any wet only liners and re-use, generally they will last through about 4 or 5 washes. Alternatively you may choose to use fleece liners, these are non absorbent, and dry quickly, so they allow wee to pass straight through to the nappy, and baby's body heat will dry the fleece liner, cooling baby and leave a dry barrier between baby and wet nappy. They can be used in conjunction with a flushable liner, however you will find the flushable liner once wet may stay wet. Fleece liners can be 'emptied' into the loo, usually by stretching or by holding a corner and flushing, then washed with the nappies.

Do I have to soak my nappies?

Not if you don't want to, many people don't, although soaking may extend the life of your nappies if you're looking for them to last several babies by diluting the urine and reducing damage to the fabric by the urine compared to dry storing them. Alternatively, you can rinse the wet and soiled nappies in the flush of the toilet or in clean water to remove the urine before putting them in your nappy bin. If you do soak, we sell BioD Nappy Fresh

which is a mild, environmentally friendly sterilizing solution designed for modern nappies. Alternatively you could use a few drops of lavender oil which is naturally anti bacterial or a couple of drops of tea tree oil which has excellent anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties or lavender oil which is also antibacterial., OR a few ml of white vinegar OR a teaspoon or two of bicarbonate of soda in a large bucket of water with a tightly fitting lid or locking lid. It is important not to overdose on vinegar or on bicarbonate of soda as this can attack the structure of terry pile fabric, and to avoid using it with bamboo particularly bamboo velour pile. It is not necessary and indeed not suitable for some nappies and waterproof covers, to use a traditional strong nappy sanitiser eg Napisan: this can make Velcro/Aplix hook and loop fastenings stiff and yellow, and may destroy the waterproof layer of a wrap or all in one. A more gentle 60ºC wash in a modern machine will adequately cleanse your nappies, but for economy you may prefer 40. If you don't soak, it is often a good idea to do a rinse or pre-wash cycle without detergent prior to your main wash at 40 or 60ºC, as this removes the urine and any remaining 'bits' from your washing before the wash cycle. Some people keep their soiled nappies separate and soak just these. If you wish to soak and are worried about the bucket getting tipped over, try standing it in the bath or shower tray, and use a minimal of water if it is likely that toddlers are around, topping up as more nappies are added.

What do I wash my nappies with, and how do I keep them soft?

It is advisable to use a non biological powder, as these are less likely to cause a skin reaction. You'll also discover that you don't actually need a full scoop of washing powder - read the packet and use the amount of washing powder the manufacturers recommend. Quite often they encourage you to use more powder by providing a hefty scoop with the mark half way down! If you've been using too much powder, watch your rinse cycle you'll probably still see plenty of suds as the excess powder is washed out. By using less powder you'll find you have slightly softer nappies too.

Unless you live in a soft water area, or have a water softener you'll find your nappies will tend to go hard, however you should not use a fabric conditioner as these will coat the fibres of your nappies and significantly reduce their absorbency giving leaks. Tumble drying will leave your nappies soft and fluffy, even just a 10 minute burst will do. If you pop your nappies in for 10 to 20 minutes after washing and remove whilst steaming you'll find this accelerates drying too without costing too much. However if you don't have a tumble drier, a small slosh (about a tablespoonful) of white vinegar in the conditioner compartment will help remove the limescale and detergent residues giving softer nappies, as will giving them a good shake and rub together when almost dry. Some modern '2 in one' detergents with built in conditioner are fine to use on nappies - the conditioner is clay based, and doesn't affect absorbency (clay being absorbent anyway). Bold and Lidl brand are two well known 2in1 brands that are fine for washing nappies.

Surely washing is hard work?

This is a myth from the days before automatic washing machines, when the choice was soak and rinse of boil nappies. Once you have established a routine, washing should only take you a few minutes. Your machine will do the rest of the work. If you wash every second or third day it will only take you a few extra moments each week to load the machine, and just a few more to hang nappies out or put them in the tumble drier. You'll save time in the supermarket, and you won't have lots of bin bags to put out for the dustman. Washing nappies is actually very easy if you have an automatic washing machine - and you won't need to iron!

Won't it be expensive to put the washing machine on just for a few nappies?

Wash at a lower temperature, and when replacing your machine choose an A rated machine for best economy. Washing machines are generally designed to be most energy efficient when operated at 40ºC or 60ºC. You can also wash your whites if washing hot, or wash with other items at the same time so you have a full machine, but do remember to avoid fabric conditioner. Generally 60ºC is considered best for pooey nappies, though many do wash at 40ºC, particularly if the nappies are just wet. I do know folks who wash their nappies at 60ºC, then stop the machine as it moves on to the cooler cycle, add in the rest of the 40ºC wash and reset the machine to carry on at 40ºC. However whilst economic, I think this can be inconvenient! Avoid tumble drying to kep the cost down.

I don't have a drier, and don't have room to dry nappies around the house?

If you set your machine to go on in the early evening usually when baby has gone to bed (or is that wishful thinking?!), then you can hang them on airers and by radiators or boilers overnight. You'll find flat nappies in particular will be dry by morning most days, the remainder can be hung in the airing cupboard if you have one or out of sight in a bedroom to finish off. A bathroom or spare bedroom is often the most suitable place to dry your nappies - an airer can be placed out of the way in or over the bath provided you have suitable ventilation, keeping the rest of the house free; you might also like to keep your nappy bucket there too. Also try to choose quicker drying nappies which unfold to speed up drying, or flat nappies or synthetic ones such as pocket nappies with microfibre inserts which dry quicker than cotton or bamboo. These can then be dried quickly overnight on or by a radiator, leaving your house nappy free during the day. For speeding up drying indoors, try pointing an electric fan (no heat required) at your airer, the draft will speed drying considerably. We have a ceiling fan in our kitchen, and it seems to dry in about 4 hours! Wraps may be hand rinsed and hung to dry. With all nappies, even the quicker drying microfibre it is advisable to ensure that although your nappy may feel dry on the surface that it is thoroughly dry. Airing them well and storing them in a warm dry place eg airing cupboard or by a radiator will help with this. If they are put away slightly damp this can encourage bacterial growth and will result in smelly nappies, sometimes a cabbagey smell when your baby has weed.

How do I make my nappies and wraps last through more than one child?

The majority of nappies will usually last more than one child depending on wear and tear, though wraps in particular the larger sizes which may be worn for many months may need to be replaced. You'll find that nappy elastic may give after being worn on a chubby baby and patches may wear round the legs, but generally most brands will still be serviceable. Sized nappies will obviously fair better than one-sized nappies as they will receive less wear and tear. Avoiding tumble drying will extend the life of nappies, and in particular of wraps (although with a polyurethane laminate wrap a quick 10 minute blast in the tumble drier can often help re-align the molecules and re-seal a slightly leaking wrap where the waterproofing properties are just beginning to go and the outside feels slightly damp). If wraps that can withstand a 60ºC wash are washed at 40ºC or hand washed where possible, this again will prolong their life. Direct contact of wraps and All-In-Ones with radiators should also be avoided, particularly PVC ones (eg Kooshies). If you want to keep the nappies white, wash on a higher temperature (see instructions provided with your nappies for maximum recommended temperatures), although this will reduce their life span, but avoid bleach as this can damage the fibres, although a dab of Vanish may help shift a persistent stain particularly of breastfed poo. However the best bleaching agent is the sun: line drying is free, and the sun's action will naturally bleach your nappies. Rinsing and soaking of soiled and wet nappies and wraps will neutralise the urine and thereby reduce damage to the fibres of the fabric and prolong life.

My fleece lined pocket nappies seem to be repelling water, what should I do?

This is sometimes caused by a build up of detergent residue, or can happen when nappy cream is used, and can clog up the surface of the nappy causing it to repel. Various remedies often long and convoluted, are suggested on nappy forums. Personally I found the best was to rub a little drop or two of washing up liquid over the surface of the fleece and rub in (you don't need a lot), then rinse thoroughly to remove the foam before washing at 60 (otherwise you may get a machin efull of bubbles! You don't need to faff about with vinegar or dishwasher tablets. All this may do is decrease the longevity of your nappies.

My nappies smell as soon as my baby has wet them. They smell horrid, yet she hasn't done a poo, what can I do?

This can happen particularly in spring and autumn when your heating is off but it's a wet day, resulting in difficulties keeping up with all your washing and drying. This can mean your nappies although feeling dry when you put them away are dry on the surface but not quite dry in the folds around the elastic or inside if an all in one. This can cause moulds and bacteria to multiply in the nappy, resulting in a horrible cabbagey smell as soon as they are wet. To remedy I would suggest wash the nappies as hot as the washing instructions allow, with some detergent plus a scoop of a nappy soaking solution such as Click Here for Glossary

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