Top Tips for washing and storing reusable nappies

Monday, 1 June 2009  |  Admin

One of the reasons that my Bitti D'Lish cloth nappy challengers have used for not using cloth nappies is that they don't want loads of extra washing and drying.
There's no doubt that you do have to wash your nappies, unless of course you use a laundry service. But to be honest, it's not that much additional work (if it were I wouldn't be doing it!) you just need to be a little bit organised.
Storing Cloth Nappies
So where do you start? Well wet nappies are easy. Just take it off your baby and pop it in your nappy bucket. There's no need to soak the nappy in water, this is known as 'Dry-pailing'. For a dirty nappy, just shake the poo off the nappy into the toilet. If it's a squishy poo, hold the end of the fleece liner (or top layer of your nappy) and put the other end in the toilet and then flush. The running flushing water will wash off the worst of the poo. If it's a REALLY mucky one and you're close to your shower, then use the shower to 'power-hose' the poo off.
What temperature should you wash your cloth nappies on?
When you've got a nappy bin full, it's time to put a wash on, anywhere between 40 & 60 degrees. I usually wash at 5o degrees, but (and this is a top tip) I do a COLD rinse wash first. By rinsing them in cold water, you're stopping the stains from being set by the warmer water. I only have to do this nowadays because no2 sons nappies are so completely disgusting and messy because he eats loads of fruit. If you were just dealing with normal poo, you wouldn't need to do this.
Now and again, I wash at 60 degrees to keep my nappies free of bugs and I try to line dry them in the sun where possible which also helps keep them clean.
What should I use to wash my cloth nappies?
Anything you want aside from fabric conditioner, which can damage some cloth nappies. Most manufacturers recommend non-bio liquids. I use eco-balls. I was a little sceptical at first that they would work, but amazingly, they do! And trust me, if they can get my nappies clean, they'll clean anything!
Drying Cloth Nappies
Which brings me to the trickiest part of using cloth nappies - how to dry them? Obviously line-drying in the open air is best, but not everyone has access to an outdoor washing line. If it's raining outdoors, I usually try to get my nappies over the indoor airing rack. Depending on the weather and whether the central heating is on or not, it takes about 24 hours for my nappies to dry like this.
If that's not do-able I will use the tumble drier but I really try not to. Most cloth nappies can be tumble dried, but the manufacturers usually say to avoid repeated tumble drying as it can shorten the life of your nappies. If I am tumble drying, I'll take the wraps / shells out of the wash first and dry them on the air drier, which only takes a few hours.
Getting organised for cloth nappies
You can see that washing and drying your cloth nappies isn't difficult. The difficult part is that you're adding an extra 3 loads of washing per week to your already busy 'to-do' list. So how can you make it easier?
The timing of when you wash your cloth nappies makes a big impact. Every evening (or every other evening if you've just got one babe in nappies), after you've put your little one to bed, stick your wash on. Then, just before bed (if you're drying indoors) hang the nappies up to dry. That way they're drying overnight while you're tucked up in bed.
If you're drying outdoors, your nappies will be ready to hang out first thing in the morning, meaning they get all day to dry in the air. And every (other) evening, you can fold your dry nappies for use the next day. Easy...or at least not that difficult if you're just a little bit organised.
Would love to her if anyone has any other top-tips to share?

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