Categories
Cloth Nappies Parenting

My Cloth Nappy Wash Routine

I’ve been asked by a few mates new to cloth nappies about my wash routine. That’s a funny thing to type, makes me feel like an influencer! *tosses hair* “I’ve been asked by my fans about my skincare routine!” Like that, but for baby poop.

Some of my cloth nappy stash, which is a much nicer picture to pair with this than grubby nappies!

Anyway, let’s talk shit:

My washing machine is a Bosch Series 4 8kg front loader. It heats it own water to the requested temperature. I got it in July and I love it. So the following routine is for a front loader. Read it any way if you have a top loader, but scroll to the bottom for a couple of tips that I used when I had my top loader.

Step One: after removing the nappy from baby, I stick it in what’s called a dry pail. This is just a basket with a ton of air holes. Mine is metal, but you can use plastic too – as long as it’s got lots of airflow. 

My setup. Here’s my lovely machine, and my two dry pails. Front one is for dirty nappies, back one is for nappies that have been prewashed and are waiting for main wash.

Step Two: Either immediately after removing the nappy or later on when you’ve got time, scrape any solid poops out of the nappy and into the toilet. (This doesn’t apply to exclusively breastfed babies – their poop is water soluble and can dissolve in the wash, so no scraping necessary!) Ideally the poop will be ‘ploppable’, which means it rolls off the nappy pretty easily, but there are plenty of poops that aren’t that easy. Teething poops and ‘just starting solids’ poops are super annoying like this, they have a peanut butter/straight kumara texture. To clean these off, I use a butter knife (clearly marked and NEVER brought into the kitchen, lest it be confused with the other knives!) and a silicon brush. Usually I will only need the knife, but occasionally the brush is warranted. I clean these with diluted bleach.

Step Three: Once I take off baby’s night nappy in the morning, I put it in the machine with all the previous day’s nappies. I do morning washes because ideally it’s good to wash a night nappy as soon as it’s off the bum, and because I benefit from a strict routine and doing nappies like this helps me to not forget. You can do night washes if you don’t use cloth at night though. When chucking nappies in the wash, take the inserts out of the pockets, so everything can swish around properly. 

This is called the prewash, but it’s actually a proper wash. Ideally you should do a hot wash between 30-60 minutes with half the usual amount of detergent. I wash at 60 degrees Celsius on a quick cottons cycle, which is 1 hour 6 minutes. The reason you only do half detergent is because it’s not a full load of laundry so you don’t want a manic amount of suds, and because you don’t want to add any other items to this one – just the nappies.

Step Four: Once the wash is done, stick the nappies into a second dry pail to wait until you do a main wash. My second dry pail is right next to the first one, as seem in the above pic.

Step Five: Once you’ve done a couple days’ worth of prewashes, it’s main wash time! I do mine every 3 days, sometimes every second day depending on my plans. I never leave it longer than 3 days – I think you can go up to four days but my pails aren’t big enough and personally I’d rather not leave it that long, as I don’t want to risk ammonia developing.

Anyway, for main wash I chuck the three days’ worth of nappies in, and do a 40 degree wash with full detergent dose. The wash needs to be full, so I bulk it up with baby clothes, flannels, handtowels etc if i need to. I use Persil on nappies, but there are a few options you can use. Eco detergents aren’t always as effective unless you do hot washes for both pre and main. You’ll soon get a vibe for what works though. I use persil for nappies and ecostore for my other stuff.

And that’s it! If you want to use your dryers, just use it for inserts. Shells dry super quick on a rack. Try to dry them out of direct sunlight so you don’t damage the PUL.

TOP LOADER

Okay, when I had my Fisher and Paykel top loader, I did stuff a bit differently. You can’t get precise temperatures in a top loader, because they fill up from your hot water cylinder and my thermometer indicated that my hot washes were about 55 degrees Celsius. So I did both pre and main washes on hot. I did a heavy duty cycle for both, and often paused the main wash to allow items to soak for half an hour. That’s pretty much the only difference.


Anyway, I hope this guide helps you developing your own wash routine! I’m happy to answer any questions you may have, and sites like Clean Cloth Nappies are a godsend! Their science-based strategies are what I used to develop this routine, and they can help with all sorts of issues.

Categories
Cloth Nappies Parenting

Cloth on the Cheap

One major thing with cloth nappies that I’m hyper aware of is the initial cost of a setup. Although cloth nappies wind up thousands of dollars cheaper than disposable nappies in the long run, not everyone can afford a big upfront payment. And not everyone knows which brand they want to invest in! Recommendations are hugely helpful, but ultimately it comes down to what you like and can afford and what fits your child best.

It’s like Terry Pratchett’s “Boots” theory. Having more money saves you money.

Been there. It’s one of the many, many ways people get trapped in poverty.

But if you haven’t got the cash for a bulk payment, here are some ways to get into the cloth game anyway.

  1. Start small

Remember, you do not need to be all or nothing. You don’t need a full stash of 28 nappies from Day 1. I think that expectation is one of the things that puts people off using cloth. If you only have two nappies to start with, that’s fine! That’s two nappies you save from landfill every time you use them. Do what you need to do for your budget, and if cloth works for you, you can continue to build up.

  1. Go part-time

You don’t need to go full-time if you don’t want to. Ever. Some cloth parents just use cloth during the day and go for disposable at night. Some do two days on, one day off. Some just have a few nappies that they use when they can. All of these options are fine! I use disposables when I’m on longer trips to visit family, because I don’t want to spend my holiday at the laundromat. Do what works for you and your family! You can always add more later if you want to.

  1. Buy secondhand

This is not as gross as it sounds, I promise. There are Facebook groups like NZ Buy and Sell MCNs where you can get great deals on secondhand nappies. Ads will state the condition of the nappies. If you’re buying secondhand, it’s definitely worth sanitising them with a bleach solution before putting on your baby. Groups like Clean Cloth Nappies will guide you through that, or just ask a fellow cloth user! We’re always happy to help. Secondhand is also a great way to get out of stock prints that you like from good quality brands.

  1. Use brand rep discount codes

A lot of nappy brands have brand rep codes that can offer you 10 or 15% off. Feel free to message the company and ask, or search the company’s hashtag on social media.

  1. Use stockist sites

If you want to try a few brands of nappy but don’t want to pay shipping costs for each individual order, you can use sites like www.tweedle.co.nz, www.tushie.co.nz, www.chirpycheeks.co.nz and www.nappyheaven.co.nz (New Zealand) or www.fluffmail.com.au, www.wrenandmyrtle.com.au (Australia) to choose several brands in one order. I’m sure there’s others, so feel free to plug your favourite site in the comments!

My Wren & Myrtle stash – Junior Tribe, Boho Babes, and Baby Beehinds.
  1. Take advantage of bundles

Most brands have bundle deals, where you’ll get a discount for buying 6, 12 or 24 nappies. These are fantastic if you know which brand you like and want to commit to! Many brands and sites also have trial packs, where you will get a one-off discount for buying 2 or 3 nappies.

  1. Buy flats/prefolds and covers

Flat nappies are the old-school style of nappies, a bit like what our parents would’ve used in the good old days. They’re folded around the baby and held in place with a fastener (you can use Snappis these days though, not big old safety pins!) Flats and prefolds with covers are more cost-effective than a full stash of pocket nappies, as you can use the covers more than once before washing them. Flat nappies and covers also dry much more quickly, so you don’t need as many in your stash.

  1. Sell nappies you don’t need or want

Yes, those same secondhand groups are a great way to pass on what you don’t use or what didn’t work for your child! Cloth nappies hold value well, especially if they’re a popular brand. You may not get back the full amount you paid, but you will get some, which is definitely not the case for used disposable nappies!

  1. Ask a mate

Do you have a cool friend who uses cloth? They might be able to loan you a couple of nappy brands to try! Feel free to ask.

Hopefully these tips help you feel a bit better about taking the first step to using cloth. Have you got any other ideas to do cloth cheap? Feel free to share them in the comments!

Categories
Cloth Nappies Parenting

So why cloth nappies?

“Why Lou?” I hear people ask. “That’s a lot of extra laundry. Don’t you want to just bin the poop and be done with it?”

Well, no. And here’s why:

The rubbish bins in my town only go out fortnightly.

Three reusable nappies - a purple one, a patterned one and a black one.
Nappies from Minimi, Kekoā and Jubel, three awesome Kiwi nappy makers. You can also get all three brands from Tweedle.

Seriously. Can you imagine? Two weeks of soiled nappies and wipes? They’d fill up the entire wheelie bin! And once the kid starts solids, that’s two weeks of stinky human waste sitting there in your trash – even if you’re the responsible type who flicks solid poop off the nappy into the toilet like you’re apparently supposed to.

No way. Ew. 

For me, that was the clincher that began my cloth journey, but there’s actually a ton of great reasons to go cloth. Here were the main ones for me:

  1. You save money, even if you go a little nuts buying prints

You save a butt-ton of money using cloth. Once you’re past the initial outlay, you’re only paying for laundry powder and some electricity for the extra washes. Going full cloth will save you hundreds or even thousands of dollars – even when compared to the cheapest disposable brands!

Remember, you do not need to be all or nothing with reusables. If you only have a couple of cloth nappies to start with, that’s fine! Don’t let anyone make you feel like you’re doing it wrong. Owning and using two cloth nappies is two nappies you save from landfill every time you use them. It adds up. And keep in mind, you don’t even need to buy brand new! There’s a great market for secondhand nappies online now, so you can build a stash for not much more than the price of a few boxes of disposables. And even within brand new nappies, there’s a huge range of prices.

I’m at the more expensive end with nappies. I’m luckily in a position where I can do that, and I have fun with it. I started out with a huge collection of Baby Factory nappies from a friend of mine – she gave me so many that I was able to share them with three other friends to boost their cloth supplies and give them an opportunity to try cloth out without committing to anything. From there, I bought a few trial packs from different brands. Trial packs are a great way to test a nappy brand while getting a wee discount. I started with trial packs from Fluffy Ducks and Bear & Moo and got addicted from there. I ordered mixed packs from Tushie, Fluff Mail, Tweedle and Wren & Myrtle. Once you’ve tried a few brands you’ll have a good idea of what you need and what you like in a nappy, and you can go from there.

And when your child is toilet-trained, you can sell them to someone else! Can’t do that with used disposies!

Nappies from three fantastic and affordable Kiwi brands – For The Burrow, Yoho & Co, and The Bebe Hive.
  1. They’re better for the environment

Disposables take hundreds of years to break down, and it takes more waste water to make one disposable than it does to grow, create and use a cloth nappy. That astounded me and I really wasn’t okay with it. I’ve been trying to cut down on my waste for years, with mixed results. However, I’ve managed to have a waste-free period for 3 years prior to my pregnancy. Cloth nappies seemed like another great opportunity to minimise my landfill contribution.

For Leo’s first three weeks, we used disposables* – we spent most of his first two weeks either in the birth centre or in the hospital and it was just too hard to contemplate going home every day to do a wash when I was tethered to an exclusively breastfed baby who couldn’t leave his blue light bed. Once we’d been home for a week and felt settled, I started him in day nappies. Once he hit 2 months old, I began doing cloth overnight, and we also began using cloth wipes. Since then, I’ve only used disposables on a couple of overnight trips. That’s what works for us right now. Every cloth nappy reused is one less disposable going into my wheelie bin and into my town’s landfill. Stoked!

*When I do use disposables, I use Noopii – they’re a NZ brand (possibly the only one now that Treasures have shut down?) They also seemed a bit more environmentally-friendly than the other brands, and a percentage of the purchase price goes towards conservation of native NZ animals, which is pretty fly. Ka pai, Noopii! Little and Brave also appealed as a disposable option, but their compost program doesn’t extend to my city yet, so I decided against them. Would love to try them if they ever bring their commercial composting to my neck of the woods, though.

  1. I like laundry

I find doing laundry weirdly calming. It’s one of the chores I insist on doing entirely myself – not because my husband isn’t capable (he is perfectly capable of washing his own clothes, and everyone should be), but because I like it. (He did his own laundry for years before me, there’s no issue there. He still folds his own clothes because he likes the Kondo method, and Konmari is lovely and tidy once it’s in your drawers, but I feel like it takes foreveeerrrr. Do any of you guys still do Konmari stuff, or was it just a passing fad?)

Aaaanyway, I looked up a wash routine on Clean Cloth Nappies and went from there, and in the process I learned a bunch about how to get all kinds of stains out, so now I really like laundry because I get sweet results and also get super zen when it’s all done and out on the line. I even bought metal pegs so I never have to deal with plastic pegs breaking! 

I can already see some of you side-eyeing me for the laundry stanning. Come on, doesn’t everyone have one chore they actually secretly like? Well, this is mine. Don’t judge me.

The chore I hate is ironing. Don’t even start. Ugh. 

  1. I love the prints!

My addictive personality has totally latched onto cloth nappies. I love the patterns, I love trying different brands, and I love collecting prints that mean something to me. I have prints of movies I love, animals I love, random prints that remind me of special moments with my family, and colours that I find satisfying. I even have some nappies designed by a friend of mine (check out Tuti’s Wild Things collection)! Every print I buy is in my collection for a reason. I have no idea if other people put this level of nerdery into the nappy prints they buy (I’m sure I’m not alone!), but some aren’t concerned with this aspect at all and are happy for any print, focussing instead on price point or brand or whatever. Each to their own. If you’re not compulsive like me, I’m sure you’ll find cloth nappies much simpler! Either way, it’s loads of fun. 

My Tuti nappies, designed by one of my favourite women!
  1. Shopping small and local

I’m big on shopping local these days, especially now that importing clothes and shoes comes with a GST charge at the border. I really like supporting small businesses. I like to know that my money goes to families like mine. I like getting little thank-you chocolates in my courier bag. I like the little thank you notes. People put so much care into the deliveries! I’ve also ordered from Australia a few times – again from small businesses – and although that’s not exactly local, I still like knowing that my money is going to small business. And hey, my kid is half-Australian, I’ve got to have Aussie animal prints on his butt, right?

So there you go: my reasons to go cloth. What are yours? Are you considering cloth but haven’t taken the plunge? Feel free to ask questions if you’re curious.