Washing cloth nappies – rinse, lather, rinse repeat

Washing nappies is a regular occurrence in this house (obviously) – I tend to do a load every 4th day as that makes the most sense for me to make sure that I have the nappies I need (I only have 5 night nappies and I like to have one spare just in case there’s an overnight change needed) and that I don’t overloaded the washing machine to make sure the nappies get a good wash. I’m really glad that this time around I’m not having to do a wash every other day – if you can afford it it’s definitely much nicer to have a bit of a break before having to wash-dry-put-away again…

There is a lot of advice about washing cloth nappies out there and a fair bit is outdated as vinegar is still mentioned a lot as a softener (great if you don’t mind rotting your bamboo nappies but honestly just don’t do it!). Finding a washing routine that works (and if it results in stinky nappies it’s not working) is definitely an important part of successful cloth nappying for me.

Our current detergent – I don’t exactly know why I chose this one but it’s working well so I’m not changing it!

On that basis, since our nappy wash routine is working for us, here’s what I do and why:

  • used nappy’s are stored in dry nappy buckets whilst waiting to be washed – the buckets contain the smells and are easy to clean;
  • when it’s time to wash the nappies I put them all in the machine – checking that laundry tabs are folded back on those that have velcro fasteners and that any poppers are undone (to prevent any pulling in the wash);
  • the nappies then go on a cold rinse cycle with the wash cycle turned off and a spin of 800 rpm – this gives a first pass to cleaning any pooey nappies without setting stains by using heated water;
  • I then wash the nappies on a synthetic cycle (lasts about 1 hour 40 minutes) at 40°C with a super rinse and the spin set to 800 rpm again – I use a full cap of detergent, I’m firmly in the camp that believes that nappies washed with minimal detergent will start to smell because they are dirty, nappies are full of wee and poo and I like to wash that out;
  • finally the nappies go on a final cold rinse cycle (to make sure that they are thoroughly rinsed of all detergent) at a 1000 rpm spin to get as much water out as possible to save on drying time.

Once washed nappies are line-dried (if at all possible – it’s brilliant for bleaching out any stains!) or tumbled or hung on the airer as appropriate. If you’re using cloth nappies what works for you? I think I’m a little superstitious about my routine now – I don’t want to change anything because I really don’t want to end up with stinky nappies…

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