Cloth Nappy Information
TYPES OF NAPPIES
Flats are the old school cotton terry squares. They also come in flannelette cotton, hemp, bamboo or a blend. There are a variety of ways they can be folded and are fastened together with either pins or snappis. They require a waterproof cover. Flats are the least absorbent option of cloth nappies, and can be bulky but is fast drying and most cost effective option. Flats can be used from birth to toilet training stage.
Pre-folds are made of soft layers of fabric such as cotton, bamboo, or a blend, generally in the shape of a rectangle, in various sizes. Some have a thicker layer down the centre third. Depending on how the pre-fold is folded you could fasten it with a snappi or pin, or you can use a nappy cover. It can also be used as an insert or a booster in other nappies. Pre-folds are not waterproof so they do require a waterproof cover. They are fast drying, and cost effective.
Fitted nappies can be made from bamboo, cotton, fleece, hemp or a blend. Fitted nappies are also called contoured or They have leg and back elastics. There is usually a lay in or snap in insert. They can be fastened by either hook & loop (aka Velcro) or snap closures. The entire nappy is absorbent so it will require a waterproof cover. Fitted nappies are great for heavy wetters and nights. Fitted nappies are slow drying. They can be purchased in various sizes or as a one-size-fits-most (OSFM).
Pocket nappies have a waterproof outer layer and a soft inner layer sewn together with an opening either at the front or back (or both) making the pocket where inserts can be stuffed inside. They can be fastened by either hook & loop (aka Velcro) or snap closures. The absorbency level is adjustable depending on the type of inserts used. Pocket nappies are easy to use. Like the AI2 pocket nappies are fast drying but you are unable to reuse the shell. To launder you need to take the inserts out of the pockets and put them back in once dry. They can be purchased in various sizes but is usually a OSFM.
All-in-ones have a waterproof outer shell with an absorbency layer sewn together. Some have pockets so extra inserts or pre-folds can be added for extra boosting. They can be fastened by either hook & loop (aka Velcro) or snap closures. AIO are the easiest to use and generally are the most expensive type to purchase. If you are after a nappy that is similar to a disposable, then you can’t go pass the AIO nappy with the hook & loop closure. Absorbency is dependent on the brand and how the nappy is sewn together, this also affects how fast or slow drying the nappy would be. They can be purchased in various sizes or as a OSFM.
All-in-two (AI2)/Snap-in-one (SIO)
All-in-twos have a waterproof outer shell and the absorbency layers (inserts/boosters) either lay in or snap in separately, (some have pockets). They can be fastened by either hook & loop (aka Velcro) or snap closures. The absorbency level is adjustable depending on the type of fabrics and the type of inserts or boosters used. With AI2s the shell can be reused multiple times before washing (if not soiled on) by changing the inserts. With everything being separate it allows for faster drying time and easy to launder. They can be purchased in various sizes or as a OSFM.
PUL – polyurethane laminate nappy covers are made from a polyester knit that is breathable and waterproof. They have elasticised legs; some have double leg gussets for extra protection. You can also get some with front and/or back elastics. They can be fastened by either hook & loop (aka Velcro) or snap closures. It is the waterproof protection needed for flats, pre-folds and fitted nappies. PUL covers can be reused if not soiled, simply wipe and let dry in between changes. Covers are easy to care for and are fast drying. They can be purchased in various sizes or as a OSFM.
Wool Nappy Covers
Wool nappy covers are not waterproof but are water resistant. It can store water vapours without feeling damp, perfect for hot climates. Wool covers are the most breathable and natural type of cover. They come in various styles: pull up, tie on or snap in closures. They are durable and long-lasting. Wool covers can be used multiple times between washes. Wool covers need to be lanolised regularly to maintain water resistance. Wool nappy covers are sized.
What is PUL?
PUL Fabric is a type of laminated fabric. PUL stands for Polyurethane Laminate. It can be pronounced either P-U-L or "pull".
We recommend washing your nappies at least every second day. Washing regularly helps to prevent bacteria from building up, mould from developing and fabric from deteriorating.
If using barrier creams, ensure you use a liner to protect your nappy fabric. Cream can become clogged in your nappy and cause it to repel urine and leak! You can use reusable or disposable liners.
Front loaders use less water than top loaders. If using a front loader; you may need to run your nappies through an extra rinse to ensure they are properly cleaned.
Never use bleach or soakers, including Napisan, as they will compromise the waterproofing, elastic and bamboo in your nappies, can cause rashes and will void your warranty.
Never use fabric softener or vinegar on your nappies. Fabric softener coats the fibres of the fabric, causing them to repel. Vinegar may cause breakdown of the components of your nappy.
Our laundry detergent recommendations:
- Rockin Green Laundry Detergent
- Bosistos Laundry Powder or Liquid
- Biozet Attack Rapid Laundry Liquid
- Earth Choice Laundry Liquid (in the white bottle with blue lid, not the clear bottle).
Type of Water: soft or hard
This will affect how well the detergent will work for you. Hard water reduces the effectiveness of your detergent making it harder for your nappies to get clean. You can find out whether you have soft or hard water by contacting your local council. In general, if you wash your nappies according to the detergent manufacturer’s instructions and the nappies come out still smelly, you may have hard water. Try boosting the amount of detergent you are using, or add a water softening agent, or try a different detergent. On the other hand, if your nappies are coming out soapy you may have used too much detergent. Give that load another rinse to get the excess suds out. Reduce the amount of detergent you use for the next load.
- Flush Flush solids into the toilet.
- Store Give the nappy a quick hand rinse under the laundry tap before storing in a dry nappy bucket. This will minimise staining, cut down on smell and stop potential fabric damage from acidic wee.
- Pre-rinse Once you have enough nappies for a wash, run your load through a warm pre-rinse cycle in the machine. This gets rid of any excess urine or soiling before the wash cycle.
- Wash Put your nappies through a normal/long wash cycle up to 60°C, with the amount of detergent recommended by the detergent manufacturer for your load size and water level.
- Dry Line dry for best results, or tumble dry according to manufacturer’s directions.
Hang nappies sideways or flat to avoid stretching the elastics. Sun is your best friend. It’s a great stain remover and sanitiser. But too much sun can deteriorate elastics and PUL. So my suggestion is to give the nappy enough sun to kill the germs and fade the stains then move them into a shadier spot to dry.
Inserts and prefolds can be tumbled dried on warm or hot. Shells on the other hand should only be tumbled dried on low, and only when necessary, because tumble drying can damage the PUL layer and the elastics.
PREPPING NEW NAPPIES
Fitted nappies, inserts, boosters, prefolds all need prepping. They need about 6 – 8 washes before they reach full absorbency. You don’t need to dry the nappies in between washes. Soaking overnight in fresh water can speed up this process. Be sure to pre-wash your nappies (including shells) once in warm water with detergent to get rid of any manufacturing reside before use. Shells (covers and pockets) don’t need prepping.
Microfiber usually reaches their maximum absorbency within 6 washes. You can wash synthetic fibres in cold water.
Cotton, hemp, and bamboo nappies/inserts/prefolds all need to be washed separately to the rest of your nappy stash in warm to hot* water to get their natural oils out.
AIOs should be prepped with cold/warm water, never hot*. You can prep all AIOs together, unless a manufacture has a warning that colours may run, you may want to rinse them first in cold water before washing with the rest.
New nappies can be used after a couple of washes but you will need to change them more frequently. How will you know if they have reached their maximum absorbency? It’s hard to tell, you just have to trust that the nappies will do their job. Frequent changes during the few weeks should do the trick to avoid leakages.
*Don’t use hot water can damage the PUL layer, snaps, and elastic.
Both disposable and cloth nappies can cause nappy rash. Generally, disposables are better at keeping your baby drier. The best way to avoid nappy rash is to change your baby regularly. If bub is getting nappy rash frequently that is not normal and you should seek medical advice.
Some common causes for nappy rash (but not limited to):
- Chemicals in disposable nappies
- Infrequent nappy changes.
- New foods
- Reaction to detergent (washing may need an extra rinse or reduce amount of detergent used)
- Reaction to the elastic
- Reaction to the fabric in the cloth nappy
Nappy Rash Treatment
When using cloth please avoid using nappy rash treatments that contain: zinc and petroleum (petrolatum/mineral oil) as they form a barrier which can build up on the nappies, reducing its absorbency. If the nappy rash persists it’s important to seek medical advice to find the underlying cause for the rash.
Suggestion: Natural MCN safe options include corn flour, olive oil, or coconut oil. Nappy free time can also be good for bub.
Nappies that have staining caused by bodily functions generally will fade over time with help from the sun’s UV rays.
Sometimes babies need to take pain relief like Panadol. Some pain relief medicines contain Sorbitol which can cause the nappies to stain. There is nothing you can do to prevent the staining from happening as Sorbitol is passed through urine. Again sunning the nappy is the best way to get rid of the stain but may take a while to fade.
With a good wash routine the nappies should not be smelly. There are occasions where our normal routine may not be enough. For instance, baby has started to sleep through the night and has been in the nappy all night. That nappy may have a strong smell. I would suggest that you rinse out that nappy before putting it in the dry pail. Rinsing it will help break down the acidity caused by the urine. It’s always a good idea to do a pre-rinse cycle without detergent, whether by hand or in the machine, this will to help to clean out the nappies prior to your regular wash routine.
Mould is caused by moisture and warmth. Mould loves humid climates so preventing mould is always the best course of action.
Here are some tips:
- Store nappies in a cool place
- Dry pail, with lid off whenever possible
- Wash everyday or second day at most
- Clean your nappy bucket/pail/bag between each load
- Keep the laundry well ventilated
- Regularly check your washing machine for mould
- Leave your washing machine open when not in use to dry out
Found mould, not to worry. Here are some tips:
- Wash the nappies with half a cup of vinegar and line dry in the sun
o Only wash affected nappies in vinegar. One vinegar wash should be enough to kill the mould spores on the nappies
- Wash your nappies more frequently than before
- Sunning the mould stains should fade the stain but may take some time to disappear
- Check the washing machine and the rest of the house for any mould spots and get rid of it with a 50/50 vinegar and water solution. Spray the solution onto the mould and wipe it away.
We recommend that your avoid strip washing if possible. But if you suspect that your nappies are repelling instead of absorbing the urine caused by build up of oils, from such products like fabric softeners, nappy rash treatments etc then a strip wash may be necessary.
To Strip Wash:
In the laundry tub or bath tub, add a few drops of dish washing detergent to warm water. Never exceed the maximum temperature recommended by the manufactures. Wash and rinse. You may need to rinse the nappies a few times before all the detergent has washed out of the nappies. Once the water runs clear without any suds appearing, put your nappies in the washing machine and wash them as you normally would.
LONG TERM STORAGE OF CLOTH NAPPIES
There’s a few easy steps to take in preparation for long term storage:
- Wash your nappies again in max temp water (not exceeding manufacturers recommendations) without any detergent. This will get rid of any build up or residual left on the nappies.
- Dry your nappies. Sun them for a full day and/or put them in the dryer on low heat. You need to make sure they are absolutely dry or mould could form on your beautifully stored nappies.
- Put your nappies in a dry storage container or a vacuum sealed bag. Store the nappies in a cool, dark place. Choose a spot where the temperature stays fairly consistent throughout the year.
- Lay your inserts and boosters flat in the box or bag, separately from the nappy shells.
- Add a few paper towels in the bag or box so it can wick away any extra moisture that might be present during storage.
- Every 4-6 months you should take the nappies out of storage and give them a wash and dry. This will ensure that the elastics stay fresh and don’t turn brittle.
- When you’re ready to use the nappies again, take them out of storage and give them a good wash.