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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. 

When to Deep Clean or Sanitise?

  • Your nappies are second hand (You can just sanitise if you think they dont need a full deep clean)
  • You have nappies that smell like poop straight out of the wash or when dry*
  • You have nappies that smell like ammonia (Strong pungent urine) when baby pees in them*
  • Your nappies have repeatedly been washed in a weak or soap based detergent*

*If any of these are happening, your wash routine is lacking something and needs to be changed after the strip.

Deep Cleaning

Deep cleaning is a way to remove lingering organic matter and minerals from fabrics. For nappies that are: stinky, have been washed in a weak or soap based detergent, or are second hand nappies that could do with a full deep clean.  There is no need to deep clean covers and shells, only items with absorbency.
  1. Start with clean nappies, they don't have to be dry
  2. Half fill your top loader, bath or large container with hot water (as hot as the tap will go)
  3. Use a good strong detergent (Preferably with enzymes) and any laundry booster such as Napisan, Sard, Boost, etc
  4. Per 10L of hot water, dissolve: 2 Tablespoons of Detergent and 2 Tablespoons of Laundry Booster. So for half average bath (80L) use 1 cup of Detergent and 1 cup of Booster. 
  5. Add all nappies to soak for between 2-6 hours, stirring occasionally
  6. Drain water and squeeze out each item
  7. Wash on a hot heavy duty cycle with no detergent
  8. Now your ready to sanitise!

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

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.

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, ensure that the bleach is well combined and use an old white towel to ensure these cotton covers are fully submerged. 

Bleach method

  • 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 its not expired, expired bleach does not work.
  • 4% bleach- 4 teaspoons (20mls) per 10 litres of cold water. Or 160mls per half average bathtub.
  1. Mix the bleach well with cold water in your chosen tub
  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 in the bath
  4. Put them through your new and improved wash cycle on hot, with your strong detergent
  5. Dry how you like



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. This method is safest for nappies that don't have a PUL 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- These methods are not advised unless absolutely necessary, they are hard on nappies and best avoided. But ensuring nappies are safe is top priority.  We stand by these methods as we have used them for thousands of hire nappies. In saying that, soaking, hot water and bleach may void the warranties from some manufacturers. It's very hard for manufacturers to determine what causes any issues with nappies. 

Refer to Clean Cloth Nappies for even more methods for Strip and Sanitising Cloth Nappies 

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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