My Wash Routine
One of the things that gets a first time (and seasoned) cloth nappy parent unstuck is the wash routine. To start with it is confusing and there are all these steps that people talk about but don’t necessarily say why they are needed. But I promise you, setting yourself up with a good wash routine from the get go will ensure a smooth cloth journey. You will get better at washing your normal clothes and your water use doesn’t increase a huge amount. I have recently moved and have just received my first water bill, I will be tracking our usage over the next couple of bills and see how we go.
I highly recommend heading over to Clean Cloth Nappies who are the experts in this area with extensive knowledge and experience in all areas and situations when it comes to cleaning your cloth nappies. I have experience in my situation with my washing machine and although I have assisted many people in setting up their wash routine, I am not an expert in all circumstances.
Generally speaking, you can’t adequately wash cloth nappies (your dirtiest laundry) in cold water with minimal detergent. You need a good, well rounded, hot water wash routine to ensure your nappies stay in tip top shape and continue to be healthy for your baby.
A good quality PUL fabric can withstand the temperatures (up to 60 degrees) called for in the Clean Cloth Nappy washing routines. PUL is not however recommended to go through the dryer or be left in the Australian sun for prolonged periods of time.
My wash routine
Here is my personal wash routine. Through trial and error with the guidance of Clean Cloth Nappies I have found a system that works for me.
My washing machine is a Fisher & Pykel Quicksmart 7.5kg Front Loader. And I highly recommend it. There are a couple of phases to my wash routine and they are as follows:
After the nappy change:
When we are at home, nappies are changed and the wet nappies are put in my Strucket (Dry Pale). Soiled nappies are dealt with straight away. Solids are put in the toilet and the nappy is rinsed (and rung out) and stain treated if needed before also going into the dry pale.
When we are away from home or bub is at daycare, everything goes in our waterproof wetbag. Solids will be put in the toilet if possible, if not they will be dealt with when we get to a toilet or home. We do not rinse soiled nappies when we are out. When we get home, we transfer the nappies into the dry pale, rinsing and stain treating if needed.
Every morning after the night nappy has been changed, I put the previous days nappies and the night nappy in the washing machine. I use the “Everyday” cycle which is about a 1hour long wash, with the temperature set at 60 degrees and an 800RPM spin. I use 2 pumps of Dirt. Laundry Detergent with a half scoop of vanish or 40ml of Trimat detergent. Once the nappies have been pre washed they go back in the dry pale. I don’t bother to separate them from non pre washed nappies as I can tell the difference but many people will put a tea towel or terry square between the layers or use two baskets.
Main Wash (3-4days):
I run my main wash every 3 to 4 days depending on when we reach sufficient loading (⅔-¾ full when wet; approx. loosely full when dry). My toddler is playing with toilet training so our nappy use on a day to day basis is a little bit more varying compared to a child who is 100% in nappies. If we haven’t fully toilet trained by the time #2 arrives, the main washes will likely be more frequent.
I use the “Heavy” cycle which is approximately 2hours 20minutes. If I am using Dirt. Laundry Detergent I use a 60 degree wash, with 5 pumps of detergent at 800RPM spin. If I’m using Trimat detergent, I will use 60ml on a 40 degree wash.
I aim to run my main wash overnight so it’s running during off peak but when we get solar panels we will run it during the day.
Please note: Clean Cloth Nappies recommends a higher dose of dirt. laundry detergent (6-10 pumps) for the main wash. I have reduced this due to issues with suds (white out) in my washing machine. I monitor my nappies closely and will adjust if an issues occurs. Click here to view their detergent recommendations.
I hang our fitteds and inserts on the outside clothes line in the sun as much as possible. I fold the fitteds in half over the clothes line (fold on the leg elastics) as I don’t feel the need to protect those elastics as much as the covers. During the warmer months all day in the sun is sufficient, as it gets colder or I hang them out late or it is overcast I will finish the fitteds and inserts in the dryer (don’t stretch elastics while hot). If it is raining I will put them on a clothes horse for a couple of hours before putting them in the dryer.
I try not to put fitteds and inserts straight in the dryer from the washing machine because I find the dryer will take hours to dry them and it ends up being more power use for a similar drying time.
I dry our PUL and wool covers and all wet bags inside on the clothes horse. I hang them in a “hotdog” style (a wing on each side) to protect the leg elastics. I find these dry very quickly when they are just PUL or PUL with a microfleece inner. If the inner fabric is a slower drying fabric they will take longer.
Folding and Storing:
If I am honest, most of the time my nappies stay in the dryer or clothes basket until we need them where I will assemble all the parts together and complete the nappy change or pack the bag.
In an ideal world, I assemble the nappies after they are completely dry and put them in a clothes basket that sits under the change table.