Nappy guide: washing cloth nappies

washing cloth nappies

Forget the days of nappies soaking in a bucket, followed by fearfully boiling them. Thanks to modern detergents and efficient washing machines, washing cloth nappies these days is wonderfully straightforward: cold rinse, hot wash, line dry, done!

One rule to remember is: no fabric softener! This reduces the absorbency of the nappies, not so good for something used for a absorbing wee and poo. (if this ever happens thanks to a well-intentioned helper, just rinse, rinse, rinse!!!!)

Washing cloth nappies – starter guide

The most effective routine for washing cloth nappies is a cold rinse, with no detergent, followed by a long, 40-60 degree wash with a good dose of detergent. The cold rinse will lightly wash off wee and poo from the nappies, ready to let the hot wash do its work. Most washing machines come with an allergy or baby setting – a cycle of 2 hours is about right: perfect for putting a wash on before doing the school run, over lunch or the kids’ bathtime, or overnight if your machine has a timer.

A scoop of Violets mineral bleach will add some pizzazz to help remove stains (this hero of the laundry world can also rescue school uniform, CSP, towels – anything that needs a stain sorting.) Or, you can try some magic in your wash, with Tots Bots Potion: a chemical-free and enzyme-free detergent that is anti-bacterial, allowing you to wash cloth nappies as low as 30 degrees! They also come in a yummy choice of bubblegum or mint humbug, or you can stick to unscented if you don’t have a sweet tooth.

Tots Bot Potion Powder

Magical potion for your nappies: Tots Bots Potion

Once the wash has finished, it’s time to enjoy the wonderful sight of freshly washed nappies on your washing line. Fresh air and sunshine are best to keep stains at bay, but don’t worry if you don’t have the space or weather, air drying on a clothes horse is grand, too. A multi-peg sock hanger is fab for your wipes, liners and boosters.

Washed nappies drying on a sunny day

A perfect nappy washing day!

Drying cloth nappies

Generally, it’s best to steer clear of the tumble drier (think of the electricity you’ll save!), but in a time-saving emergency, anything without PUL can be tumbled on a low/cool heat (boosters, prefolds, fitted nappies, wipes).

Drying times differ according to each nappy: bamboo and hemp take the longest, microfibre and milovia inserts are super quick, and terry towelling and prefolds are somewhere in the middle. In the winter, nappies shouldn’t be placed directly onto a radiator, as this will affect the PUL and parch your nappies. We find putting your clothes airer right next to a radiator can make a huge difference in speeding up the drying time.

Before you know it, you’ll have the timing of washing cloth nappies sorted, and believe us when we say the delight in seeing those wee nappies drying on the line is so compelling, you’ll soon be sharing  photos on our Facebook hangout page. There is also something highly satisfying and therapeutic in folding them, too…!

Nappies washed and dried, ready to sort

A satisfying nappy sorting session

Cloth nappies – where to start?!

starting cloth nappies

Photo credit: Heather Calver @areusablelife

You’ve decided to try cloth nappies, that’s brilliant! Now what?!

Whether it’s because you want to reduce your waste, your disposable options have let you down too many times, or you simply can’t resist a big, fluffy baby bum, it can feel a little daunting getting started, but don’t worry! Here’s our starter cloth nappy guide to get you up to speed.

Firstly, we recommend trying a few different cloth nappies, as each have their own benefits which suit your little one as well as your own laundry routine.

For a full day in cloth, you will need:

  • Approx 6-10 nappies (6 for a toddler, 10 for a newborn)
  • a wet bag or nappy bucket for wet and dirty nappies
  • liners are optional but they’re handy for catching poo
  • a cute baby (supplied by you)

To switch to cloth full time you will need 15-24 nappies (24 allows you to wash 2 days’ worth of nappies, and still have 2 days’ worth clean and dry), although this depends on how often your baby likes to wee and poo!

We recommend giving all nappies a prewash. Nappies with bamboo or hemp, such as the Tots Bots bamboozle, will need up to 5 washes to reach their maximum absorbency. You can wash and immediately rewash, or simply choose to change your baby more frequently while the nappy gets to maximum absorbency.

Simply place your chosen liner inside the cloth nappy, making sure all the liner is tucked in, then fasten the nappy onto your baby. Cloth nappies fit slightly differently to disposables: you need to start with the nappy much lower down at the back, just covering their wee bottoms, and higher up at the front.

How often do I change a cloth bum baby?

Cloth nappies generally need changing every 3 hours or so during the day.  This varies depending on your child’s wee capacity and the nappy you are using.  There are super absorbent nappies that will last all through the night.

What about poo?!

Oh yes, babies love to poo! Both breastfed and formula fed babies will still have very soft poo, which you can rinse off in the toilet, though usually it’s fine to go straight in the washing machine. Once babies start doing ‘proper’ poos, you can flick the poo off the paper or fleece liner into a toilet. Nappy buckets can be handy for a quick swill of those delightful teething nappies.

Where do the nappies go?

There is no need to soak your nappies, once you have removed any excess poo, simply put them in your wet bag or nappy bucket – just make sure you remove any paper liners and fold back any aplix laundry tabs. It’s best not to leave used nappies any longer than 3 days. Then you can wash them: rinse, hot wash, line or tumble dry, fold/stuff, and start again! Wet bags can be washed with the nappies, too.

Wet bags full of cloth nappies, ready to wash

Cloth nappies on the go

Using cloth nappies when you’re out and about is just as easy. All you need extra is a small/medium wet bag for the used nappies, and a cloth wipe bag if you’ve decided to use cloth wipes, too. Just make sure you have enough cloth nappies to last during the time you are out, then, when baby needs changing, just put the used nappies in the wet bag (minus poo if you can find a toilet), and add to your changing bag. So much easier than trying to find a bin for the used nappy! You can literally change baby anywhere (car boots, the beach, at the office when you’ve brought baby into work and, yup, they’ve filled their nappy!)

The important thing is just to give it a go, you’ll be surprised how quickly you fall into a routine. Even doing cloth part time, perhaps just at home while you get used to them, would save over 2700 nappies going to landfill (based on using 3 cloth nappies a day for 2.5 years). The cloth nappy community is ready and eager to help you find the right type and right routine, and we’re happy to have any excuse to chat about cloth nappies with you, so just ask us via our usual customer service contact options, or there are plenty of fellow cloth nappy fans on our wonderful Facebook hangout page.

Starting cloth nappies at birth to potty time

You can start at any time from birth… to potty!

Focus On – Tots Bots Easyfit v3

(Video shows previous version of the Tots Bots Easy fit but the style of the nappy is still the same)

Vital Statistics

Nappy Type: All in One
Fabrics: Pul and Minkee
Size Range: One size Fits most approx. 8-35lbs
In the pack: Complete nappy
Colours or Prints: Bright Colours and Limited Edition Prints
RRP: £16.99 for Prints £15.99 Colours

The Nappy

The TotsBots Easyfit is an All-in-one nappy, which means all the necessary parts are attached, the absorbent part of the nappy consists of a flip out tongue style insert which tucks inside a pocket, the reasoning behind the internal pocket is that it allows for faster drying and also additional boosting if needed.

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Focus On – Fuzzi Bunz Elite

Vital Statistics

Nappy Type: Pocket
Fabrics: Pul and Minkee
Size Range: One size Fits most approx. 7-35lbs
In the pack: Outer, and two inserts and spare set of elastics
Colours or Prints: Plain two-tone colours
RRP: £15.45 for Prints or £14.95 for Plain

Fuzzi Bunz have really shook up how modern cloth nappies adjust in size. The rise settings for this nappy exist within the leg elastic itself rather than set by poppers.

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