Are Reusable Nappies Hygienic?
Yes, reusable nappies are hygienic. Despite common misconceptions around the product, as long as you wash them in line with manufacturers guidelines, they are both hygienic and safe and won't cause nappy rash.
According to the Nappy Alliance, a UK based coalition of reusable nappy providers, washing nappies at 40c or 60c in a normal washing machine is sufficient to keep them hygienic. Let's take a look at some other popular questions around cloth nappy washing and hygiene:
- Do reusable diapers need to be boil washed?
- Are reusable diapers difficult to wash and dry?
- Can you put reusable diapers in the washing machine?
- How do you get poo out of a reusable nappy?
- What temperature should I wash cloth diapers?
- What setting should I wash cloth diapers?
- Can I tumble dry cloth nappies?
- Can I wash reusable diapers with clothes?
- Are second hand reusable nappies safe?
No, reusable diapers don't need to be boil washed or soaked. DECADES ago (like pre 1970's) when washing machines weren't as efficient as they are today, cloth terry squares were boil washed on the hob in a huge pan to clean them. Nowadays, as modern washing machines have improved over the years, this isn't necessary.
In fact many modern cloth diapers are made from materials such as bamboo which could be damaged by washing at high temperature. Waterproof wraps or covers should definitely NEVER be boil washed as this would damage them beyond repair.
No, reusable diapers aren't any more difficult to wash and dry than a normal load of soiled washing. From experience, muddy football gear is more tricky to wash and dry!
Yes, you can put reusable diapers in the washing machine and all nappy manufacturers recommend doing so.
To get poo out of a reusable nappy:
- open the nappy and use the front of the nappy liner to wipe your baby
- this should remove the majority of poo from your baby
- take the soiled nappy and liner to the toilet
- hold the unsoiled end, dangling the soiled area in the loo
- flush the toilet over the soiled nappy and liner
- this will flush away any poo
- if using single use liners, this can now be binned
- otherwise the nappy can be stored in a bucket or wet bag until washing
- once washed, any lingering stains will generally be removed by sunshine on the line or an airer
Cloth diapers should be washed at a temperature of between 40c and 60c depending on how soiled they are.
To wash reusable diapers the cotton wash setting on your washing machine is generally recommended. These tend to have a longer and more thorough wash cycle. Rapid or eco wash settings aren't recommended as these aren't long enough or use enough water to properly clean dirty nappies.
Yes, you can tumble dry cloth nappies on a low temperature but you should never tumble dry their wraps or covers as direct heat can damage PUL waterproofing. Ideally both nappies and wraps should be air dried if possible.
Yes, you can wash reusable diapers with clothes, including baby clothes as long as they are only wet with pee. If they are dirty with poo, a separate wash load is recommended. And you should only use laundry detergent when washing reusable nappies, such as washing powder. Using fabric softener isn't recommended as it can damage the absorbency.
This is easy to get into a routine. Babies create a lot of washing and generally on alternate days, you'll do a clothing wash and then a nappy wash. Once you get into this routine, it's easy to maintain.
Yes second hand reusable nappies are safe and hygienic. There's no problem at all buying second hand reusable nappies and in fact it's one aspect which makes them even more economical than disposable nappies.
Speaking from experience, I bought a nappy bundle when my eldest son was born which contained around 15 nappies and 5 wraps. I used it for 2 years with him and then used with each of his 3 siblings as they came along.
Once we had finished with them, we sold them and recouped some of the expense, which was fantastic given that they had been used for 4 children.
We hope you've enjoyed this article, if you're interested in further reading, we can recommend:
About the Author: Helen Rankin is founder of Cheeky Wipes, the original environmentally sustainable baby wipes kit, founded in 2008. Helen used cloth nappies herself and was delighted to launch Cheeky Bamboo Nappies in 2020, which were designed and tested by more than 100 parents! Team Cheeky pride themselves on helping people make the switch to reusables EASY, with a range of eco friendly products including period pants and cloth sanitary pads. This was recognised in 2021 when Cheeky Wipes were awarded the Queens Award for Enterprise for sustainable development.