How to really clean cloth diapers?

Discussion in 'Natural Parenting' started by Sherileigh, May 31, 2011.

  1. Sherileigh

    Sherileigh Well-Known Member

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    I used cloth diapers with my son for about 10 months...I had to stop because I just couldn't get them clean enough. They'd smell like pee almost immediately after putting them on him!
    I really want to use them again on baby #2, but would like to clean the heck out of them first and then figure out how to use on a regular basis and get clean everytime. The store I bought most of them from seems to think detergent is enough and didn't want me to do any harsh cleaning, but I just can't use them then. I can't get it right.
    I need some advice please!
    Thanks ladies!!
     
  2. Rachel_C

    Rachel_C Well-Known Member

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    Detergent (or alternatives like soap nuts) are definitely enough to clean cloth nappies. However, did you know that too much detergent can actually make them smell? If you use too much, it clogs up the nappies and then traps dirt in the nappy. When that comes into contact with fresh wee (or even water) it can smell really bad, and also cause problems like leaks (because the nappy loses absorbency) or nappy rash. It sounds like you needed to strip wash your nappies before, which is where you remove all the build up. There are various ways to do it, most of them really simple. To prevent the problem in the first place, you should use only a small amount of detergent (typically one quarter to a third of what the detergent manufacturer recommends - they only say so much because they want you to buy loads of it) and do at least an extra rinse at the end of the wash, until no more bubbles come out of the nappies into the water. I'd agree that you don't need to do any 'harsh cleaning' on nappies. Things like sanitisers really aren't needed if you're washing them right in the first place and they can damage elastic/PUL if you have nappies with those in. Most manufacturers advise against harsh stuff.

    Maybe if you tell us what your washing routine was before, we can suggest things that could make it work better for you.
     
  3. CouldThisBeIt

    CouldThisBeIt Mum of 1 and 1 on the way

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    Rachel is right-there's no need ever to use the amount the manufacturer says, other than to make them money. Doing so increases the risks of build up even on clothes, and that increases the risks of rashes and so on.

    I only ever use a half dose for clothes, a quarter for nappies.
     
  4. Hayley90

    Hayley90 Complete

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    rachel has got it spot on - without knowing your washing 'routine' its hard to say exactly what to change :) xx
     
  5. Sherileigh

    Sherileigh Well-Known Member

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    I hardly used any detergent in the end. I literally tried every single amount. I used the detergent the woman had told me...country save I think?? I used a quarter the amount. I can't totally remember my routine, but I think I just washed them, and rinsed again. And by the end I just couldn't handle the smell, it was brutal. If I used any less detergent I wouldn't be washing them. lol
     
  6. ashleyroseeee

    ashleyroseeee Member

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    I hear vinegar helps great with the stinkies as well :)
     
  7. fluffpuffin

    fluffpuffin Well-Known Member

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    Did you ever give them a strip wash? Detergent can build up in the fibres an then smells cling to that. I regularly do a hot wash (60) with just washing soda and then give it another extra rinse and that gets rid of any build up.

    The other thing I found really good for my washing routine is to always do a cold rinse cycle first - it rinses away the worst of the smells before doing a warm wash - prevents smells getting stuck in the nappies.
     
  8. Rachel_C

    Rachel_C Well-Known Member

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    Each time you tried changing your washing routine, did you do a strip wash first? Cos if not, it wouldn't help to change anything because the old detergent build up wouldn't be removed first and would still hang around to make a stink!

    A washing routine that seems to work for most people is as follows:

    Rinse dirty nappies into the loo/sink before putting them in a dry pail.
    Wash every 1/2/3 days.
    Don't overload the machine - fill it less than you would for normally soiled clothes as nappies need more swishing room and water.
    Do a cold rinse first, without the spin at the end if you can stop that.
    Wash on 30-60 degrees, whatever you're happy with, maybe go for hotter if you're extra concerned about getting them clean. Use 1/4-1/3 the amount the recommended amount for clothes. General advice is to use non-bio or something like soap nuts for baby stuff but again, if you're concerned, use bio detergent. Do a good length wash, look if your machine has a 'heavy soil'/'super wash' type function for very dirty stuff.
    Do an extra rinse at the end. If bubbles are still coming out of the nappies, keep rinsing until it stops.
    Hanging to dry in natural light is a great way to ensure extra cleanliness. It doesn't have to be sunny and in the window will do. Frost is also fine!

    That should be more than ok, unless your machine needs cleaning.

    At the first signs of issues, do a strip wash. A good way to prevent it happening in the first place is to regularly do a strip wash using the dishwasher tablet method - wash the nappies as above, then put a dishwasher tablet in the drum with them and wash them on 60 degrees, then do an extra rinse or two and they're ready to dry and use. That will prevent any build up that is not being dealt with in your normal wash. I would do that every 6 weeks-ish.

    I've never heard of Country Save but some detergents aren't as good as others. I'd just use your normal detergent to start with, whatever you use for baby's stuff.
     
  9. Rachel_C

    Rachel_C Well-Known Member

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    Oh, what nappies do you have? If you want to reuse the same ones and you have flats/terries/prefolds (nappies without PUL or elastic), you can boil them to help remove the build up for the first time, then just start with a good routine. A normal strip is usually enough though.
     
  10. Sherileigh

    Sherileigh Well-Known Member

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    Oh so much to know! lol. You ladies must have this down to an fine art!!
    Well I'd really like to give it another try with the next babes...so I will follow this wonderful advice!
    I definitely need to do a strip wash first I think!! So I wash them first though? And then strip? Rachel C you said to use a dishwashing tablet? What's that? I'm guessing just a tablet you use in your dishwasher? I've never used one before? Do you put it in the actual wash with the diapers from the beginning?
    Any chance one of you wants to fly over to Canada and give me a demo? haha.
    Thanks.
     
  11. Rachel_C

    Rachel_C Well-Known Member

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    I would just start with clean nappies so if you haven't used them you could go straight into a strip wash. I'd rinse first though so they're already wet. A dishwasher tablet is literally just the detergent tablet you put in a dishwasher (or that's what you do over here, don't know if dishwashers are different over there?). You just get a basic one (they have all sorts of fancy ones with gels and dissolving wrappers over here, just get a normal tablet one, they look like the laundry detergent tablets we have too) and put it in the drum with the clean wet nappies. The tablet should lift out any detergent build up and nasties from the nappies - use a 60 degree wash on a good length wash (not a quick wash or anything like that), then do a couple of extra rinses at the end. I would try to hang them in the sun for a few hours too. After that you can just dry them and use them.

    If you don't want to do that (if you don't want to buy the tablets just for nappies, although it's been well worth it for me - a £3-4 box of them will last the whole time my kids are in nappies!), you could do a detergent strip, which is where you use a full dose of detergent. You can start with dry nappies for this one. Again, do a 60 degree good length wash but then you have to keep rinsing until no more bubbles are coming out in the water. Depending on how bad the build up in the nappies is, that can take literally all day! I would personally try the first method first and only try this one if it doesn't work well enough.

    I'd love a holiday to Canada if you're offering to pay for the flights? ;)
     
  12. milamummy

    milamummy mom to Ella and Xavi

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    Im also having probs with smelly nappies..they just dont come out clean anymore..they still smell after Ive taken them out of the washing machine..I dry pail, rinsing off any poopy diapers first.. i do use a lil bit of a vanish bar on stains but only on the stains themselves not on the whole nappy..I then wash on a long cycle with soapnuts with a rinse hold but this past month Ive noticed that they still smell..should I try a strip wash with the dishwasher tabs too? Im currently using bambinex and lil lambs bamboo nappies..will they be ok if I wash them at 60 degs?
     
  13. Rachel_C

    Rachel_C Well-Known Member

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    I would try a strip wash. You don't need to strip when using soapnuts but the Vanish may be causing it.
     
  14. milamummy

    milamummy mom to Ella and Xavi

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    ok Ill try it thx :thumbup:
     
  15. Xaviersmom

    Xaviersmom mum to 2 working on #3

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    Following along this same idea... vinegar/baking soda... how's that work? I have a front load washer.
     
  16. fluffpuffin

    fluffpuffin Well-Known Member

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    You can soak any items that aren't PUL in a solution of. White vinegar & water but don't use it on PUL wraps or nappy outers. I would soak the inserts / prefolds etc. overnight, then wash hot without any detergent the next day and give one extra rinse. For PUL items I sometimes soak in a solution of washing soda, then wash hot without detergent and rinse or use soda in the detergent drawer and then wash on hot. I find a good soak often works better than just a wash on its own.
     
  17. vespersonicca

    vespersonicca 2 gorgeous boys!

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    When you do a strip wash, the diapers should be clean when you load them into the machine. Then you can put in a regular dishwasher tab OR you can use the full amount of your washing detergent (which you only use 1/4-1/3 of for a normal cloth wash) and then rinse rinse rinse! That's it! I mention that you can also use the full amount of your regular detergent because I didn't know that for a long time. People get suggesting the dishwasher tab which I wasn't very comfortable with (lots of chemicals). Both ways totally work though! I hope you have success the second time around!
     
  18. vespersonicca

    vespersonicca 2 gorgeous boys!

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    Oopsies! Just realized this thread has 2 pages and the detergent strip was discussed. Sorry about that. :blush:
     
  19. lovealittle1

    lovealittle1 Well-Known Member

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    Sherileigh-Do you have a top load washer? If so here is what I recommend (once you have stripped the diapers) I use allens naturally although I have heard good things about country save. Firstly I do a cold rinse with the highest water setting. Then add detergent. I have a measuring spoon so I don't over use and all I use is 1/4 of a teaspoon. Then I do a hot/cold wash on highest water setting and heaviest load. Once finished I do another rinse also on hot/cold. Then I hang to dry everything outdoors if the weather permits. If not then I tumble dry all inserts and hang all diapers indoors. This has worked very well for me and i have not had to do a strip wash at all and have been cloth diapering for over 3 months. One more tid bit - do you use fabric softener with your other laundry? If so I reccomend getting rid of it. HTH.
     
  20. sun

    sun Mum of 3

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    My diapers are harder to get clean now that we have a front load washer where you can't adjust the water level. I have to rinse, rinse, rinse! to get Buns diapers smelling good. I do a quick wash (cold) with thirsties pre-wash, then a hot regular wash with a tiny bit of nellies, then another rinse. About every 2 weeks I add some RLR to the wash (cloth diaper laundry treatment) and I dry in the sun as much as possible! xx
     

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