Welcome to the ultimate cloth nappy laundry guide! Did you know that modern cloth nappies are easy to clean, stinky nappies are not normal, and a good laundry routine will guarantee your cloth nappies to come out squeaky clean every time?
Let us help you get it right.
1. Prepping your new nappies
Covers: Give all covers a quick wash before putting them on baby to remove any factory residue.
Inserts, Fitteds and Flats: These as made from natural fibers so will need ‘prepping’. Natural fibers will only reach their full absorbency capacity after about 6-8 washes. Wash at least once before use and keep in mind that they will become more absorbent the more you wash them.
- It is normal for natural fibers to shrink up to 10% after washing. Mini Matters nappies are cut and sewn allowing for this.
- Wash all dyed cottons and other bright/dark colours separately at first to avoid colours running. It is normal for colours to fade on dyed cottons. To minimize this, always dry your nappies with the undyed side facing the sun.
2. Storing Dirty Nappies
Invest in a large storage basket, one with good ventilation that ‘breathes’. Modern cloth nappies should not be soaked. In fact, soaking may just shorten their lifespan.
Wee nappies can be put in the basket straight off the bum, with no need to rinse. Newborns that are exclusively breastfed have water soluble poop, so there is no need to rinse this poop, but you can do so if you prefer. If your baby is on formula or solids, poop needs to be discarded in the toilet (and you can also give it a quick rinse) before the nappy is stored in the basket for wash day.
We treat night nappies slightly differently, because these are worn for a longer period of time and need to be rinsed thoroughly in the morning with warm water to avoid smeliness or long term stink issues. After rinsing, these nappies can also go in the storage basket.
Wash your nappies within three days. Keeping it in the laundry basket for longer may result in mould issues.
3. Washing Nappies
We recommend a wash cycle where you start off with a pre-rinse, to rinse out the urine. If your machine’s pre-rinse cycle is very short or not sufficient to remove the urine, you can opt for a quick wash option without detergent. For the main wash, wash your nappies on the fuzzy/cotton cycle. We have found that eco/gentle cycles do not clean nappies sufficiently. Use the recommended amount of detergent for heavily soiled loads and try to wash at 40ºC. Depending on the detergent, you may need to do a post-rinse to remove any excess soap. In short: rinse – wash – rinse.
* Although nappies and covers containing a waterproof PUL/TPU layer are usually included in the above routine, some PUL manufacturers advise hand washing to preserve the waterproof layer. We understand this is not always practical, but it’s something to bear in mind. As moms of Mini Matters, we have cloth diapered five babies using washing machine routines, and we have not had any issues with PUL longevity. To caution on the safe side, please wash your covers in a mesh laundry bag.
A guide on detergents
Most laundry detergents on the market are suitable for washing cloth nappies. The exceptions are ‘gentle’ or ‘baby’ detergents as these are not strong enough to thoroughly clean nappies, as well as detergents containing fabric softener, as these coat the fibers and inhibit absorbency.
4. Drying 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.
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 diagonally on opposite corners to correct the square 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.
- Avoid tumble drying to avoid excessive warping
4.2 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.
4.3 Fitteds, flats, inserts and boosters:
These can be line dried in direct sun. Reshape while damp if necessary.
5. The Mini Matters laundry range:
We have taken the guesswork out of choosing the correct laundry products for your cloth nappies. These products are tough on cleaning, yet gentle enough to use on your baby’s clothing and nappies.
Probiotic Laundry Liquid
There are many benefits to using a laundry product that contains probiotics. Our laundry liquid uses good bacteria instead of harsh chemicals to thoroughly clean clothes and nappies. The good bacteria fights mould, pathogens and odours, and enriches healthy microflora on the fabrics that continues to protect and clean long after the wash cycle. Probiotics also actively clean your washing machine, keeping it free from odours and harmful bacteria. Using a probiotic product should reduce the need to use bleach on your nappies.
Sometimes your laundry needs a ‘boost’. Adding Oxy Bubbles to your wash load along with your regular detergent, will give your laundry an extra deep clean. Oxy Bubbles also help with tough stain removal.
This wonder soap is your go-to for removing tough stains. Simply rub it on any stain, let it sit for a while and add to your regular laundry.
A note on bleach stripping
‘Bleach stripping’ is a term used in the cloth nappy community when using a diluted chlorine bleach solution to disinfect or deep clean your nappies. We do not recommend that you use bleach on any Mini Matters nappies whatsoever. Bleach can cause colours to fade, and damage to nappy elastics and waterproofing. Please use the Mini Matters Nappy Sterilising Liquid if you need to strip your nappies. This product kills 99.9% of microbes without the risk of damaging your nappies.