It's very simple! When you take the nappy off your child, flush any poo down the toilet and put the nappy and any washable liner in a nappy bucket. You do not need to change the wrap with every nappy, only if it gets soiled, or at the end of the day (or night). If the nappy itself has got soiled, you will find it best to rinse it through before it goes into the nappy bucket, to stop any stains from setting.
Before your nappies go into your storage bucket/bag make sure all hook and loop fastenings are done up so that they cannot catch on stray loops, otherwise your nappies will all end up in a big ball. Some fastenings come with laundry tabs and can be folded back on themselves. Otherwise you can simply do the nappy or wrap up on the widest setting and turn it inside out. This also protects the loop (soft) velcro, as well as stopping the hook velcro from doing any damage.
Drypailing v Soaking Storage Traditionally nappies would be soaked in a bucket before washing but we DO NOT recommend this now. Just place your nappies in a dry bucket (dry pailing) until you're ready to wash them and then your washing machine will do all the hard work. It is much easier to load the nappies into the washing machine from a dry bucket . You can also keep your nappy wraps in the bucket along with the nappies and there will be no significant smell from the nappy bucket when the lid is lifted.
If you decide to go against our advice and soak your nappies you should only use plain water. Soaking does effectively pre-clean the nappies a bit, which helps keep stains from setting. However, the downside is that the nappy bucket will smell when you take the lid off, you also have to dispose of the dirty water and soaking can damage modern fabrics and fastenings. It is also important to remember never to soak your wraps as this will cause them to lose their waterproofing. Use of soaking agents including vinegar, bicarbonate of Soda, Nappisan, bleach or harsh stain removers should never be used as they can corrode the nappy fabric and effectively destroy your nappies. Please note that if any of these products are used on the nappies or accessories it will invalidate any product guarantee. Bamboo is an especially delicate fabric and is particularly susceptible to harsh chemicals.
Step1. Loading the Machine - Washing Load Size Modern washing machines comes in all different size drums now so there is no hard and fast rule I can tell you as to how many you should/could get in a machine. You can also get more newborn sized nappies in a washing machine drum than you can big toddler nappies. As a guide you should be aiming to have your washing machine no more than 3/4 full. This is 3/4 full when the fabrics are wet. If you put too many into your drum and jam it full, your nappies won't have enough water to fully wash them and there won't room for them to move around and agitate - nappies need a lot of jiggling to get washed. If you put too few in then this can unbalance your machine so they don't spin properly but can also lead to excessive detergent bubble formation. If you don't have enough nappies to make up a wash add in mucky bibs, muslins or anything that would benefit from a deep long wash (husband's football kit was known to go in occassionally!)
Step 2. Rinse Cycle When the time comes to do a wash, put the nappies in the machine and do a cold rinse cycle without any detergent, a rinse cycle is better than a prewash as modern machines are so water efficient they often reuse water from a prewash cycle whereas rinse cycle water is always fully drained away. Cloth nappies will be heavily soiled so we don't want any of the water used from the first rinse reused in the main wash. The rinse cycle removes any remaining solids and flushes away urine.
Step3. Main Wash Cycle Next simply run your longest 60 or 40 degree wash with non bio powder washing detergent (NOT ECOVER - see below).
You SHOULD wash at 60 degrees in any of the following circumstances:
If your baby is under about 3 months old (whilst they have no real resistance of their own)
If using Eco Balls rather than detergent
If your baby has any history of repeated rashing or skin sensitivity
If you have two or more babies using the same nappies
If you live in a commune or other "open" community (your baby will not become resistant to unfamiliar bugs)
If your baby is unwell
The wash cycle should be the longest cycle you can find on your machine and not one of the economy quick washes. These are heavily soiled items so need a long deep wash. If you have the choice of cotton or synthetics on your machine, the cotton cycle should be used as it uses more water. If you have an "extra water" function on your machine please use it, modern washing machines are VERY water efficient which is generally great but when you're washing approx 15 nappies that hold 500ml each you need a lot of water to ensure they are thoroughly flushed through.
Lots of people get very hung up on the amount of detergent they should use, in our experience people always tend to over dose and forget to run a maintenance cycle on their machine regularly leading detergent residue in their machines too. Our guide as a starting point is to read the packaging of your detergent and find the recommended dose for your water hardness and drum size and halve it. You haven't got a full drum (see step 1) so a full dose of detergent is normally too much. Using too much detergent can result in residue building up in the fabric which can cause sensitivity, damage to the nappies, smells and leaks. When your nappies come out of the machine your nappies should smell of nothing. If you can still smell detergent this is a sign you've used too much. If after washing they smell unclean this is a sign they've not been washed long enough, wrong dose of detergent used or too many in the machine (and or your machine needs a maintenance cycle run). The first thing we do when we have returns, especially faulty ones, is to sniff the nappies (glamorous job being a Nappy Lady). In the vast majority of times the "faulty" nappies reek of detergent and we can feel it built up on the fibres.
The reason we recommend non bio and not biological is nothing to do with skin sensitivity but to do with protecting bamboo and cotton fabrics. Some biological detergents contain an enzyme called ‘cellulase’ which can have a degrading effect on cellulose fibres like bamboo and cotton and this can be particularly severe if combined with the levels of heat used when tumble drying.
We DO NOT Recommend the use of Ecover with any cloth nappies as we find it frequently causes skin issues and problems with elastic in the nappies as it tends to build up on fibres very quickly.
Do not use fabric conditioner, as this will affect the absorbency over time.
A washing machine with a higher speed spin will reduce the amount of drying needed. However, I would recommend that you keep the spin speed around 1000 revs, because higher than this may damage some nappies, or at least make the fabric go tatty. You will know from your own experience of washing your clothes how fierce your spin facility is!
Step 4. Drying Nappies In general order of preference, these are the best ways to dry your nappies:
Outside on the line - the sun is a natural bleach.
Ceiling drying rack.
In front of an Aga or other similar oven (or old fashioned stove).
Freestanding or overbath dryer - a dryer is best stood in a well-ventilated room such as a conservatory or bedroom, as bathrooms often have too damp an atmosphere to dry effectively.
Tumble drier - makes nappies feel nice and soft, but works out expensive and also shortens the life span of your nappies by taking out the pile gradually. You will need to remember to empty the filter regularly of all the fluff. Or you could give your nappies no more than 10 minutes in the tumble drier and then finish them off in one of the other ways listed, to get some of the softness without the cost. Other people swear by keeping the 10 minute tumble dry for the end of the drying period, rather than the beginning, but that is difficult to time. f you do have to tumble dry make sure you only dry any bamboo fabrics or waterproof layers low.
Radiator - nappies will feel quite hard, but can be shaken out to soften them up a bit.
Terries and prefold can also be ironed dry - many shaped nappies cannot be, either because they are too thick, or they contain some material which should not be ironed. This option is bottom of the list because it involves the serious disadvantage of requiring some effort on your part! Never iron wraps.
Note that you should not dry any clothes in a room used by anyone with a sensitivity to house dust mites, as these love to breed in the warm air produced by damp clothing.
With washing, all nappies will get stiffer than they were when new, although it does help to live in a soft water area (eg Wales!). Shaped terries with a stretch agent (eg Motherease) in them or microfibre nappies such as the Teddy will tend not to go as hard as old fashioned terries. Bear in mind, however, that your baby will not feel the material directly against their bottom anyway, because there will be a liner on top. Also, as soon as baby wees, the whole thing softens up.