So you read my Beginners Guide for Cloth Nappies and you’re ready to take the plunge! You’ve decided what nappies you want to buy and they’re on route, by what do you do when they arrive and how to you actually use them?
I was definitely overwhelmed when we first started cloth, I had a friend guide me through and answer my many (what seemed liked silly) questions so I thought I’d put together a post for those who don’t have that luxury! Here’s an idiot proof guide to actually using your cloth nappies.
Step One – Prewashing
It’s super important to prewash new cloth nappies when they first arrive, it depends on what sort of nappies you’ve purchased how you do this. Everything you order for cloth should be prewashed at least once before going on your littles bum to remove any factory residue. A 3 hour 60 degree wash with a bit of washing powder should do this nicely. If you’ve purchased any bamboo or hemp then they’ll need a few other prewashes to get them up to their full absorbancy. You don’t need to dry your nappies between prewashes.
Step Two – Fitting your cloth nappy
Fitting your nappy again depends on which type and brand you’ve bought, as a rule of thumb, unlike disposables, most cloth nappies need tucked right into the knicker line to prevent any leaks, it may seem daunting at first but after a few goes it’ll become second nature. There’s also lots of fit videos on YouTube.
Step Three – Change time!
So your babe has been wearing their first cloth nappy for an hour when you smell something a bit bad… If your little one is having an exclusive milk diet (hasn’t started weaning to introduce solids) then changing is super easy, you just put the whole nappy, pee, poop and all into your wet bag or nappy bucket to store until wash day. Baby poo is water soluble so will wash right off in the machine.
If you’ve started weaning then you need to get rid of the poop before washing your nappies. I always recommend using a liner (Little Lamb fleece liners are my favourite) to catch as much poop as possible, this makes cleaning much easier. You can either wash the poo down your toilet using your shower head if it reaches across or some people use a ‘poo knife’ to scrape poop off the liner. I know it sounds gross but once you get used to it, it’ll become second nature! Once the poop is gone just pop the nappy in your wet bag or bucket until wash day.
Step 4 – Washing
It depends how many nappies you have and how often you need to change your little one how often you’ll have to wash them.
I have a stash of around 28 day nappies and 6 night nappies and wash every 3rd day. (You need around 20 in my opinion to cloth full time) You’ll learn yourself what works for you and your family but you should only fill your washing machine to 3/4 full of nappies to make sure they get enough agitation and are cleaned properly. You also shouldn’t leave nappies much longer than 3 days to prevent any mould or nasties growing.
I prewash nappies at 40degrees with a small bit of detergent, then do a long, 3 hour, 90degree wash with a full dose of detergent followed by a final short rinse.
A wee note about washing machine care, you should run a long, empty 90degree cycle on your machine once a month to prevent the build up of any nasties. I have a Miele machine and like to use the Miele intense clean powder to really deep clean my machine every 3 months.
Step 5 – Drying and Prepping
Finally once your nappies are all clean, hang them to dry. You shouldn’t dry nappies on direct heat as it can damage them, an indoor airer works during the winter but it’s best to get them out on a line in the summer. (It also helps to sun out an poop stains you may get) If you have any hemp boosters in your stash give them a good stretch after they’ve come out of the washing machine as hemp is prone to shrinking. Once my nappies are dry I like to stuff them and have them ready so that you don’t need to worry about doing that with a naked wriggling baby in front of you!