How to wash cloth nappies step by step - by Figgy & Co
We're now proud stockists of Figgy & Co, so I thought we'd share their step by step instructions for washing cloth nappies.
How much laundry powder should you use with cloth nappies?
One Tablespoon per load of 6-8 nappies (one nappy would be a cover + inserts/prefold). It is unlikely you will need to adjust this down unless you have a front loader, but depending on your water you may need to adjust this up. Hard water regions may need to use more like 1 ½ Tablespoons per load.
What should your ratio of Water to Nappies be when washing cloth nappies?
There needs to be enough water to saturate the nappies and push the cleaning solution through and allow the soiling to be removed. In a top loader, for example, the nappies will need to be both brushing up against other nappies and also moving around in the water. The agitation of the nappies against another nappy is very important. For front loading machines it can be difficult get higher water levels as the setting are for water economy. If you are able to adjust the water do so to ensure there is sufficient water moving around, or add a towel to the wash for the purpose of increasing the water level.
What wash temperature is best for washing cloth nappies with Figgy & Co washing powder?
Hot is BEST (40-50°C is adequate and more than 60°C shouldn’t be needed), Warm is ok, LEAST PREFERRED but still an option is cold. Alternate hot and cold washing is better than warm washing all the time. Hot washes are needed for optimal chemical reactions and to help keep lurking gut flora under control.
Step by step Washing Routine for Cloth Nappies
- After removing your used nappy, remove solids by knocking it into the toilet etc. A small amount of solid waste is not a problem. [Nappy liners are beneficial for keeping direct soiling of the nappy minimal – particularly those that can be washed and used again.]
- Add these and wet nappies into a bucket to store as a ‘dry pail’ for the remainder of the day (+/- a lid, but try not to let these dirty nappies get hot – the heat will generate ammonia more quickly). If you have a toilet sprayer it is fine to use this also.
- At the end of the day, the nappies need to be rinsed. It is possible to do this every second day; however you will have much better overall results if the nappies are rinsed at the end of each day.
- If there are any solids that have clung to the nappy or liner then under a running tap rinse and/or rub the fabric together to loosen off any residual solids (this ensures solids are going down the drain than through the washing machine).
- For really stubborn stains from high pigmented or ‘sticky’ solids or creams, use a small amount of Figgy & Co coconut bar soap to help lift the stain or cream, rub the fabric together or use a brush and make lather then rinse well in hot water.
- Rinsing a day worth of nappies can be done in the washing machine with cold water. Just a simple rinse is ok, it doesn’t need to be a wash and rinse, and set the water a bit higher than you would for a wash. Once these nappies have been rinsed they can be set aside for tomorrow – unless you have enough for a load of washing every day, in which case they are ready to be washed now.
- Take all of your pre-rinsed nappies and load them into the washer – with only nappies no clothes please.
- Add 1 tablespoon of Figgy nappy wash & soak per 6 - 8 nappies.
- Option 1: Set your washing machine to HOT wash using the LONGEST cycle. If your washing machine is able to SOAK or HOLD with the wash then use this too (this will make the most of using hot water). You might find this is best to do overnight as it ties up the washing machine for some time. No extra rinses are needed. Option 2: Set your washing machine to HOT and use the LONGEST cycle. No extra rinses are needed.
- Line dry in the sun is best.
Note when washing cloth nappies in a front loader
If you have a front loader, please use the longest hot wash available. It’s important that there is adequate water in the drum so if you are able to increase the water setting then please do so. Adding a towel can achieve this to buy increasing the weight of the load.
Why should you rinse your cloth nappies before washing them?
The soiling on the nappies is what is making them dirty of course, but this soiling is bioactive! There are chemical reactions happening between the number ones, number twos, heat, moisture and time!
Rinsing will lessen both the bioactive reactions (like growing bacteria!) and the impact of ammonia build up in nappies. Rinsing your nappies first also allows you to get the most out of your cleaners. With the worst of the soiling rinsed away, your cleaning solution can do the optimal job possible – it’s not battling through all that extra wee and poo.
Why is hot washing cloth nappies best?
Nappies are really dirty washing! If you think about any other time you have a really dirty load, the first thing you do is dial up the temperature.
The hot water speeds up the chemical cleaning reaction between the nappy wash and the soiling, allowing maximum washing to happen during the wash cycle while no need to add a whole lot more chemicals – using less chemicals is ultimately the best outcome for anything used next to a babies skin.
The hot water also helps to mobilise any creams and balms helping them to be released from the fabric and wash away. The higher water temperature can also in itself kill off a portion of bacteria that are on the nappy. Hot water also better removes uric acid crystals from the nappy fibres. And, if you are going to use hot water, it makes sense to use a long wash/soak to make the most of the added heat and get bang for your buck so to speak.
Should I "wet pail" my nappies?
Wet pail means soaking in a bucket. In short: No. Wet pailing your nappies is not recommended. It is best to keep them in a dry bucket or laundry bag until you will rinse them.
Dry pail all the way, baby!
Why is it better to run a long wash when cleaning cloth nappies?
When using fewer chemicals in a pared back formulation (like Figgy & Co's washing powders) you need to offset this with time and/or heat. Harsh chemical formulations are able to clean quickly because so much MORE chemical is used and often these quick cleaning chemicals are potentially toxic.
The extra agitation time moves the cleaning solution through the layers and fibres of the nappy. This is important for nappies with multiple layers like fitted nappies and all in ones, and is especially vital for microfiber fabric.
Did you know that microfiber fabric, because of its ability to absorb liquid, also holds onto deep soiling more than natural fibres? Interesting, right? And a good reason to use that longer wash cycle!
Can you wash cloth nappies with essential oils?
If you have Tea tree, Eucalyptus, Peppermint or Lemongrass essential oils, you can add 4 drops to your wash if you like [double check any washing instructions from your cloth nappy first]. It is not a necessity but these essential oils are great at reducing bacteria.
Why do night nappies stink?
Simply, it is a build-up of uric acid in your nappies that causes the ammonia smell that you notice and can burn your baby’s skin. Uric acid is notoriously difficult to remove because it does not dissolve readily – often it is a multi-pronged cleaning approach that will keep it in check.
By the time your little one is sleeping through the night they are also capable of concentrating their urine. This is less water but several pees worth of insoluble products that are ordinarily in urine – urea, uric acid, protein, hormones etc.
The nappy on the baby stays warm for hours, allowing chemical reactions to occur. From a cleaning view it is the uric acid that needs to be targeted for the over-night nappy stink. Uric acid crystals are not very soluble in water, but are better removed in hot than cold; the crystals are also better removed from fabric with plenty of water and lots of agitation. Uric acid crystal build up is not noticeable by smell when the nappy is dry but is very noticeable when ‘activated’ with more water or pee.
Night nappies by nature are also big and bulky and have lots of layers. We often choose to use fitted nappies – by their construction these multiple layers makes cleaning more difficult because water saturation and exchange is reduced. Add synthetic fibre to mix which grabs hold of uric acid and it is even more difficult to keep on top of the stink.
Three tips to help remove the smell from night nappies:
A really good rinse or bucket soak in hot water under the tap after removing the nappy in the morning will do a lot to help avoid the build-up of uric acid.
A long, well agitated wash and the right cleaning solution will keep your nappies at their best.
If you have uric acid build up, it will need to be removed to get your nappies back to smelling like new.
The team at Figgy & Co put together this article for us! If you have any specific questions about it you can either chat to our team or reach out directly to firstname.lastname@example.org
What laundry powder to buy to wash cloth nappies
We recommend this range: