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Deep Cleaning and Sanitising Cloth Nappies

Strip washing is a phrase that you will hear all too often, it is not normal, and should not be a regular occurrence. If you have new nappies, or aren't having any problems you needn't bother with reading all this, as with a good routine, you will never need it!

We don't like to use the term "Strip washing” as this term is a hangover from old myths about detergent build up in nappies which is not an issue with modern detergents, but a deep clean is essentially the same thing as a ’strip'. 

Do I need to Deep Clean or can I just Sanitise?

  • Shells and covers without absorbency, always only need a sanitise, so skip the deep clean for these items. 
  • If you have just purchased second hand nappies, and they are in excellent condition, or you know they have been washed in a good strong detergent, you can just sanitise them. A full deep clean plus sanitise can be a good idea if they seem grubby, or not sure how they have been cared for. 
  • If you have nappies that have a pungent urine (Ammonia), or poopy smell either straight out of the wash, when dry, or when your baby pees in them, you need to do a full deep clean plus sanitise. 
  • Your nappies have repeatedly been washed in a weak or soap based detergent you need to do a full deep clean plus sanitise. 

Deep Cleaning

Deep cleaning is a way to remove lingering organic matter and minerals from absorbent fabrics, it is not necessary to deep clean shells and covers. We recommend a soak as opposed to a ’strip’ in a front loader, as results are better for stained or smelly nappies. 

What you need:

  • A good strong detergent preferably with enzymes 
  • Any brand of laundry booster such as Napisan, Friend OxyAction, Sard, Select Boost, Ecostore Booster, Earthwise Booster etc 
  • A large vessel for soaking that is safe and locked away from children

Ratios:

Bucket Soak (10L)

1 Tablespoon strong detergent + 2 Tablespoons Laundry Booster

Laundry Tub Soak (40L)

1/4 Cup strong detergent + 1/2 Cup Laundry Booster

1/2 Bathtub Soak (80L)

1/2 Cup Strong Detergent + 1 Cup Laundry Booster 

Note: A Persil, Surf or Cold Power scoop is equivalent to 1/4 cup or 4 Tablespoons

Process

  1. Start with clean nappies, they don't have to be dry
  2. Fill your safe vessel with hot water (as hot as the tap will go)
  3. Add your detergent and booster to the water and stir until dissolved
  4. Add all nappies to soak for between 2-6 hours, stirring occasionally. Any items with waterproofing like all-in-one nappies should be soaked no longer than 4 hours
  5. Drain water and squeeze out each item
  6. Wash on a hot heavy duty cycle with no detergent
  7. Now your ready to sanitise!

Sanitising

Sanitising is important for second hand nappies and vital after a deep clean in order to kill any microbes that have been pulled from within the nappy. There are two methods proven to kill all microbes- a short soak in diluted bleach or keep above 71 degrees for more than 10 mins. We recommend the bleach method, as the hot water sanitise is only suitable for items with no waterproofing.

Option 1: Bleach Method


Don't freak out!! The bleach dilution is the same concentration prescribed by doctors to be used in bathwater for children with severe eczema. Its not strong enough to degrade nappies and certainly not strong enough to cause skin irritation, especially after the wash cycle. 

Polyester and minky PUL is colour fast, if you have coloured cotton panelling, embroidery, of Bamboo Velour there can be some minor fading, but the nappies will be safe to use on your baby!


What you need:

You need bleach with sodium hypochlorite as the active ingredient.  The bottle needs to say "Available Chlorine" of at least 4%. The 2% is not appropriate. Make sure it's not expired, expired bleach does not work.

Ratios:

Bucket Soak (10L)

20mls 4% Bleach (4 teaspoons)

Laundry Tub Soak (40L)

80mls 4% Bleach (1/3 cup)

1/2 Bathtub Soak (80L)

160ml 4% Bleach (2/3 cup)

Process

  1. Mix the bleach well with cold water in your chosen vessel
  2. Submerge all nappies, put a timer on for between 30-45 minutes, no longer
  3. Drain tub, do not wring out, rinse with hot water in top loader, or by hand 
  4. Put them through your new and improved wash cycle on hot, with your strong detergent
  5. Dry how you like

Option 2: Hot water method

  • Your washing machine must have an internal heater in order to use this method
  • PUL can usually cope with high temperatures, but if your covers happen to be on their last legs, the sanitise cycle can be the last straw! Bleach is a lot gentler on your nappies. The hot water method is safest for nappies that don't have a waterproofing component
  • You will need to use your new strong detergent 
  • Wash on heavy duty or Cottons at above 71 degrees or 'sanitise' setting
  • No extra rinses nessesary
  • Dry how you like

Please note- Your nappies are YOUR nappies, and you must do with them as you see appropriate. These methods are not advised unless absolutely necessary, they are hard on nappies and best avoided which is why we promote great wash routines from day one! But ensuring nappies are safe is top priority. We stand by these methods as we have used them for many thousands of hire nappies without damage. In saying that, soaking, hot water and bleach can be the last straw for very old, poor quality or damaged nappies and may void the warranties from some manufacturers.  

References:
http://learnaboutgerms.arizona.edu/germs_in_the_environment.htm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Autoclave
http://www.ehow.com/about_4696415_what-polyurethane-laminate.html
http://nationaleczema.org/eczema/treatment/alternative-therapies/bleach-baths/

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