Top Tips to do laundry the right way south africa

Top Tips To Do Cloth Nappy Laundry The Right Way

Modern cloth nappies are great! They save you loads of money, they are healthier for baby bums and genitals, they save a ton of waste not sent to landfill, etc. But they have one eensy weensy little problem… You need to wash them, and you need to wash them the right way to make them last!

If you think cloth nappy laundry is complicated, it’s not. Or to be fair, it’s less complicated than washing adult underwear (which is sort an intuitive science, for most of us).

First, some facts for your myth busting trove:

  • Cloth nappies are easy and simple to clean
  • Stinky cloth nappies are not normal
  • A good laundry routine will guarantee your cloth nappies to come out squeaky clean every time
  • Taking the time up-front to understand how to wash and dry different types of nappy fabric will help your nappies last longer, to enable reuse for your next child or to increase the resale value if you choose to sell an unused stash later in life

Right, now you know, so let’s get into it!

Complete guide to cloth nappy laundry care south africa

General tips to store dirty cloth diapers:

Store dirty cloth nappies in laundry bin with holes for ventilation, so the nappies can “breathe”.

They should not be closed up in sealed bin, nor should they be soaked in chemicals/Sterri nappy/Milton/stain removers or water. Soaking will reduce the lifespan of the nappies.

Wash the nappies within 3 days, never more than 4 days later. Postponing it to later can cause mould trouble, which can be hard to correct.

Tips to store nappies with pee:

Storing daytime urinated nappies :

Wet (pee) daytime nappies can go straight in the bin, right off the bum. No need to rinse first.

Storing nighttime urinated nappies:

If the nappy is worn all night, or for longer than 4 – 5 hours at a time, rinse it thoroughly with warm water twice before storing in the bin. The rinse helps to prevent stink issues and long-term build up of ammonia-related stink.

Tips to store nappies with poop:

Newborns that exclusively breastfed have water-soluble poo, therefore you can stash it in the bin straight away, or rinse under the tap if you prefer. The poo of older babies, and babies that are fed solids or formula, should be discarded into the loo before rinsing, and thereafter stashing.

Use a designated scraping tool, a bidet or toilet paper to assist with discarding of poop. Top tip: get a bidet handheld sprayer, if you do not have one. It’s cheap, around R300, it’s easy, and it will make your life a lot more pleasant. Trust!

You can also choose to add a liner insert into the nappy, which assists in letting pee pass through to the absorbing nappy layer, while the liner catches the poop. Reusable liners are usually easier to rid poo from, than normal nappies, so they are less hassle yet cost-effective. Disposable liners can be thrown in the trash or down the loo (read instructions of the specific brand you’re using), but because you need to keep buying replacements, it is less economical.

Tips to store dirty nappies when you are not home:

Use a waterproof wetbag to store dirty nappies when you are not home. Treat nappies as per normal as soon as you get home.

General tips to wash dirty cloth nappies:

Wash nappies max 3 – 4 days after storing in bin.

Wash like colours with like colours. Do not wash dark or bright colours with whites.

Use cold cycle, max 40 degrees Celsius.

Do not use harsh chemicals with your nappies, like bleach, Sterri nappy, Milton, commercial stain removers, and fabric softeners (yes, fabric softener is a harsh chemical because it alters the fibres of cloth!)

Doing cloth nappy laundry in a front loader washing machine:

  • Rinse the nappies on a pre rinse cycle. Cold water. No detergent.
  • Clothes/towels or linen can be added at this point if you need to bulk up the load to make it 3/4 full. Machine must be ¾ full. If the load is too full or too empty the nappies will not get cleaned properly.
  • Add the recommended amount of detergent.
  • Run the main/cotton/fuzzy cycle (must be the longest cycle, usually two hours).
  • RPM: set the RPM (the speed of the spinning) to no more than 800 for cloth nappies.
  • Run the main/cotton/fuzzy cycle (must be the longest cycle, usually two hours).
  • Add the recommended amount of detergent.
  • You may prefer to run a rinse cycle after completion, to get rid of excess soapiness. I.e. rinse, wash, rinse.

Doing cloth nappy laundry in a top loader washing machine:

  • It is important to add enough cloth and have an optimal water level, to achieve “agitation” (where cloth rubs against other cloth but enough water passes with detergent agent to remove dirt).
  • Select the water level manually
  • The optimal water level vs cloth is when you put your hand in the paused machine, and when pressing down on the cloth, the water level reaches up to your wrist.
  • Think of it as a “soupy” consistency – the cloth will whirl about comfortable, but not freely.
  • You may prefer to run a rinse cycle after completion, to get rid of excess soapiness. I.e. rinse, wash, rinse.

Handwashing cloth nappy laundry:

A bucket and plunger works brilliantly (makes for strong, toned arms too):

  • Add your nappies to the bucket filled with cold (grey) water. Plunge 40 – 50 times.
  • Fill bucket with warm (grey) water.
  • Add detergent and plunge about 90 – 100 times.
  • Refill the bucket with cold (grey) water and plunge another 50 odd times to get rid of the soap.
  • Drain, squeeze out the water and line dry.
  • Wash covers separately until clean, then dry.

Nappy laundry instructions for specialised cloth:

Washing waterproof PUL / TPU cloth nappies and covers:

Some manufacturers recommend handwash only to ensure longevity of the waterproof membrane. As far as possible, try to stick to the manufacturer instructions, but if you need to use a washing machine, do use a pillow case or mesh laundry bag.

Washing softshell covers:

Wash with nappies, inside a pillow case or mesh laundry bag to preserve the elastic. Close the velcro tabs or clips.

Washing fleece covers / longies and PJ sets:

Wash with clothes, to avoid fleece picking up fluff of new nappies.

How to treat stained cloth nappies:

Stains can be treated with boerseep, vegan boerseep, a natural laundry stain remover soap, or Castile soap bar. Adding oxy bleach or oxy bubbles to wash cycle can help remove stains.

Line-drying nappies in the sun can also help reduce stains. Trust!

Washing cloth nappies with hard water:

Hard water can reduce the ability of detergent to clean nappies which can lead to smells.

  • Use warm water to wash – wash on 40 degrees.
  • Use extra detergent.
  • Use only powder detergent.

Generally, most laundry detergents are fine for washing cloth diapers. The exception to the rule are “gentle or baby” detergents because these are generally not powerful enough to properly cleanse dirty nappies, and also laundry washes that contain fabric softener, because this will coat the nappy fibres and reduce absorption ability.

If you want something that has specifically been tried and tested for its ability to properly clean nappies, while not damaging it and being safe to use with babies, have a look at our baby laundry care range.

It is important to note: do not use harsh chemicals with your nappies, like bleach, Sterri nappy, Milton, commercial stain removers, and fabric softeners (yes, fabric softener is a harsh chemical because it alters the fibres of cloth!)

General tips to dry newly washed cloth nappies:

Line-drying is the most affordable and safest way to dry your nappies. Occasional tumble drying on a low temperature should be fine, but is not recommended as part of your regular laundry routine, as it can cause premature deterioration of the waterproof PUL lining and elastics, and cause knitted flats to warp.

How to dry flats nappies:

The nature of knitted fabrics means that they can warp and curl in the wash. Your flats may not be a perfect square after washing. Here are some tips to keep their shape:

  • Give them a gentle shake as soon as they come out of the wash.
  • Re-shape them while they are still damp. You can gently pull on the opposite corners until you are satisfied that they are the correct shape (do not shake/pull excessively as this will stretch out the fabric)
  • Hang them double over the washing line and not by their corners.

How to dry fitted and flats nappies, inserts and boosters:

These can be line dried in direct sun. Reshape while damp if necessary.

How to dry PUL, AIRflo and Waterproof Softshell Covers:

These should be line dried in the shade. Washing pegs can damage the waterproofing, so just hang them over the line.

Line dry cloth nappies to remove stains, kill germs and ensure longevity
Line dry cloth nappies to remove stains, kill germs and ensure longevity

And that’s it folks! Almost everything you need to know about cloth nappy laundry care! As the saying goes… make laundry, not landfill, because there is no planet B!

Follow us on Facebook and Instagram for more tips and tricks with cloth nappies, natural and holistic baby care, and environmentally conscious, baby-safe toys. Or comment your questions and your own tips below!

With special thanks to Mini Matters and Pokkelokkie, who’s products we stock and sell, for guidance on their nappy care routines and permission to use information.

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