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Washing

Washing instructions in a nutshell:

  • Wash your nappies a few times prior to use to increase their absorbency. Bamboozles require up to 10 washes to reach maximum absorbency, but you can use them after a couple of washes if you really can’t wait.
  • No need to soak your nappies prior to washing. Modern powders will get them clean anyway.
  • Wash your nappies/covers at 40 or 60 degrees depending on the wash care label, in a non-biological detergent and use half the amount that the packet tells you to. There is an enzyme present in some bio detergents called cellulase which is corrosive to bamboo fibre and cotton.
  • Don’t use fabric softeners as this leaves a residue and decreases the absorbency of the fabric.
  • Don’t use bleach or other stain removers - they will shorten the lifespan of your nappies and void your warranty.
  • You can tumble dry the nappies on a cool setting, but line drying is preferred as the UV naturally sanitises and the dryer will shorten the lifespan of the elastic.
  • Bicarbonate of soda and any acid (ie. vinegar) when heated in solution corrodes cotton and bamboo fibres. Whilst a lot of sites etc. recommend using them to sanitise and soften nappies they will drastically shorten their lifespan.
  • Barrier creams such as Sudocrem can coat the fibres in your nappy reducing their absorbency. When using a barrier cream you must always use a liner.

How often should I wash my nappies?

Your nappies should be washed 2-3 times before use. Bamboozles require more like 5-10 pre-washes. You should use laundry detergent, but you do not need to dry them between washes. When the fabric is woven a substance similar to fabric softener is used to coat the fibres so that they run smoothly through the looms. This needs to be removed so that maximum absorbency can be achieved. You can use the nappies after just one wash, but please be mindful that they do not reach their full absorbency until the indicated number of washes.

It is up to you how often you choose to wash your nappies. The more often you wash, the fewer nappies you will need to buy. Most of our customers find that washing every second day is a good way of minimising the workload, without needing an enormous number of nappies. You shouldn't leave a wet or soiled nappy for longer than three days, as that will increase the likelihood of mould forming and the urine can eat away at the fabric and elastic.

What temperature should I wash at?

We recommend that you wash your nappies at 30°C. The main reason for suggesting this temperature is because this is the temperature range at which most washing powders work best. Can you wash at lower temperatures, or just in cold water? Yes.

A frontloader will ordinarily have a temperature setting, but if you don't have an option to set the temperature, a warm wash is generally appropriate. If you wash with cold water, you may have more trouble in getting a stain-free wash, however a good dose of sunshine does wonders for getting things white again. Many of our customers happily use cold water only for their nappies.

The Tots Bots nappies and covers should never be washed at temperatures higher than 60°C, as this may damage the PUL on the covers and the elastic in the nappies.

What about soaking?

We do not believe that soaking your nappies is necessary. The alternative, 'drypailing', is much less work and usually just as effective. Just dispose of the contents of soiled nappies, and then place in a lidded container of any kind.

Won't it smell? No. Admittedly, I wouldn't recommend sticking your head in your nappy bin and taking a deep breath. But with the lid closed there is no smell at all. We kept our nappy bin in our bathroom for years with no visitors ever guessing at the contents.

Some parents also feel reassured by the safety aspect of drypailing as it removes a possible drowning hazard for babies or toddlers.

When it comes to washing, I do recommend a pre-wash (frontloaders) or rinse (toploaders) before the main wash so that you get the worst of the wee out of the nappies before you start. The only time I would even think about soaking is if you are using cold water only and you were having problems with stains. This is extremely rare.

What detergent should I use?

My starting point is always whatever you are already using and happy with. Although nappies 'feel' like they should be particularly hard to get clean, they are actually regarded as a lightly soiled load. When you think about it, this makes sense because you have already disposed of the poo, so the main thing is to rinse and wash out the wee, which is not the hardest cleaning job in the world.

Some general rules about washing are:

  • use half the amount of detergent the packet suggests for a full load, and half again for a half load;
  • frontloader machines give better results than toploaders;
  • hot washes give better results than warm washes, which give better results than cold washes.

As we said, you should start off washing nappies like your ordinary laundry washes. If you aren't happy with your results, then consider:

  • raising the temperature of the wash;
  • linedrying more often as the sun will get rid of most stains without any work;
  • using flushable or fleece liners so as to minimise contact between the nappy and any poo;
  • occasionally soaking your nappies.

One thing you must be careful of is excessive detergent use. If you use too much it won't all be rinsed out at the end of the cycle. In ordinary clothes, this doesn't matter too much, but in a nappy it does. The wee in the nappy will combine with the detergent residue to make quite a harsh cocktail which can cause very sore skin. Nine times out of ten, nappy rash in cloth is caused by excessive detergent use. It is easily fixed: just run the nappies through a few washes without any detergent. When they get through to the rinse cycle with no bubbles in the water, you will know they are detergent free.

So remember to treat your nappies like a lightly soiled wash and not overdo it on the detergent.

Why can't I use bleach, Napisan or fabric conditioner?

Chlorine bleach will destroy the elastic in your Tots Bots nappies and the PUL coating which makes the Tots covers waterproof. Never, ever use it.

Napisan and other soakers which have oxygen bleach are also best avoided, although not disastrous like chlorine bleach. You really mustn't use it on your PUL Tots covers at all, be nice to your PUL as it's all that stands between you and major leaks.

Oxygen bleach will, over time, cause elastic to deteriorate, so it is best avoided with your Tots Bots nappies as well. Strictly speaking, I should tell you not to use it at all. However, I will confess that I have used it once or twice a year without noticing any awful effect. Using it very occasionally to freshen up your nappies probably won't be a disaster, but you have been warned - use it at your own risk. You are much better off giving them a really good time on the line in the sun as this will naturally whiten the nappies without damaging the fibres.

You shouldn't use fabric conditioner as this coats the fibres in an oily substance which over time will reduce the absorbency of your nappies. If you have been using conditioner, then you can strip it off again by washing the nappies a few times in hot water with detergent. (For more tips on soft nappies see the next section.)

Drying Your Nappies

I'm often asked how long it takes for the nappies to dry. I've found the best analogy to give is that they take longer than a t-shirt to dry but not as long as a pair of jeans. Remember that a toploader is less efficient at spinning than a frontloader, so the nappies come out wetter and therefore may take longer to dry. If you need to speed things up, then you can tumble dry them for 10-20 minutes first before hanging out.

To keep the nappies nice and soft when drying on the line, you might try a quick 10 minutes in a warm (not hot) tumble dryer before hanging out. Slow linedrying also leaves them softer than fast, so try hanging them out last thing at night.

Tumble drying wears down your nappies in two ways. Firstly, it removes lint from the fabric, over time, your nappies will lose their fluff faster than with line-drying. However, due to circumstances I tumble-dried for years without major problems, it may just mean that your nappies wear a few months faster than otherwise, which is not too bad, when you consider that the nappies will be used for several years anyway.

Tumble-drying also uses heat which causes elastic, over time, to deteriorate. Warm is therefore better than hot, for tumbledrying your Tots Bots nappies. Try putting a dry towel in with your nappies (if there's room, obviously!) as this can dramatically cut drying time.

Washing and Drying Your Covers

The Tots Bots covers are made of PUL which, like the Tots Bots nappies, can be washed at 60°C (ie a hot wash). As discussed above, under no circumstances should you bleach or napisan your covers as this will damage the PUL lining which gives the cover its waterproof qualities. But as the covers don't make direct contact with wee and poo, this should never be necessary anyway. And since the covers are less soiled than the nappies themselves, you can easily throw them into the wash with your ordinary white washes.

Do not tumble dry your covers. They dry extremely quickly in any case, so this should not be necessary. If you need them in a hurry just rolling them up in a towel will get them dry enough to put into use immediately. Just hang them out inside or outside and they will dry very quickly.

NB: Fasten the Aplix on the cover before putting it in the wash. (Turn it inside out if you want.) This will prevent lint and threads getting caught in the hooks of the Aplix.

For optimum care of your fleece covers we recommend washing at 40°C. Once again, you should make sure you fasten the Aplix before putting them in the wash. For Red Raps, the red dye will run at first, so for the first few weeks do not wash the Red Raps with your nappies (unless you like pink nappies). After a few weeks, you will find that you can wash the covers with your nappies. If you are washing your nappies on hot, this may mean that the cover is being washed at 60°C. I am advised that this may cause the fleece to pill a little more than otherwise, but it otherwise does not affect the function of the cover.

You can tumble-dry your fleece covers although avoid excessive heat as this may affect the elastic. However, as they dry so fast, tumbledrying should not generally be necessary. Just hanging them up indoors or outdoors for a short time is usually sufficient.