Caring for your cloth
There are many different methods to cleaning your cloth nappies, and it can often be a bit daunting for newbies when they hear all the different ways people clean them. Many different systems work and people just have personal preferences. Whatever way you chose, there are 3 simple golden rules to follow:
Never use Fabric conditioner
Don’t use too much detergent, don't use too little!
Start and finish with a cold rinse
The use of fabric conditioner will greatly affect absorbency, as the fibres will become clogged with fabric conditioner and be unable to function properly. Using too much detergent can also cause absorbency problems as the detergent can build up in the fibres. It can also cause the nappies to give off a bit of a whiff over time. An extra rinse after washing prevents this problem. Powder detergents are much better for your nappies than liquid detergent which can build up easily. All is not lost if you accidentally use too much detergent or put in some fabric conditioner. For too much detergent, an extra rinse should do the job. If you accidentally use fabric softener, a wash in regular detergent and then a few extra rinses should fix it. Also remember to check your powder detergent as some have softeners added. Warm water sets protein stains (blood, poo etc) so that is why nappies should be rinsed in cold water first.
As mentioned before, there are many different methods people use, here is the method we use that works for us:
We would always use either a disposable liner or a fleece liner. With disposable liners solids can either be flushed or binned (depending on the liner and your plumbing system). With fleece liners solids can be tipped into the toilet. The used nappy can then be placed into your wet bag or wet bucket until laundry day (it is recommended that you dry pail the nappies, leaving them sitting in water long term may shorten their lifespan)
When laundry day comes take the inserts out of the pocket nappies if you have not already done so when putting in your wet bag/pail, and place them all in the washing machine, along with your fleece liners, cloth wipes etc. Put a cold (max 30 degree) rinse program on first. This can then be followed by a 40 or 60 degree wash (the makers of Charlie Banana recommend a 40 degree wash but most others recommend 60). Use a full dose of washing powder for heavy soiling. This should be plenty. Depending on your washing machine program settings, this may be the end of your washing! Some machines, or those in soft water areas, may need an extra rinse at the end. Your nappies should come out smelling of nothing.
Your nappies are now ready to be hung out to dry. Outdoors is ideal but not always practical in Ireland. In the case of elasticated nappies don't hang with the elastic stretching down as this can cause the elastic to relax prematurely. Most nappies can also be tumble dried. This can in fact soften up your inserts and boosters.
If an exceptional pooplosion has stained your nappy even after washing, a couple of hours sunshine should remove the stain. Bright sunlight should work quite quickly and amazingly to whiten up inserts and nappies. Fear not in Ireland, if we have little or no sunshine, daylight will also do the trick, it will just take a little longer. Even during the depths of winter you can place them inside on a window ledge. Sunlight really is the miracle cloth whitener.
If you only use cloth nappies part time, you may not have enough nappies to make up a load for the washing machine. In this instance just do a cold rinse program with the nappies first, then you can add bath towels and other items for the actual wash program.