Buckets of bleach begone! Did you know that Modern Cloth Nappies don't need soaking? In this wonderful age of excellent washing machines, you can let your machine do the grunt work.
A modern cloth nappy pail system is called a "Dry Pail" and the practice of putting your nappies into the Dry Pail is called "Dry Pailing". It is "dry" because there is no soaking in buckets of water. The perfect modern pail system is airy, for reasons we will explain in this post. We think that the perfect airy dry pail is a regular plastic laundry hamper- it has handles so it's easy to carry to the machine, it has holes in the sides for lots of air flow, and it's easy to give it a spray & wipe/hose down after tipping the nappies into the machine to clean it, it will last you many years and once your kids have finished in nappies you can continue to use it for regular laundry.
We keep our Dry Pail next to the toilet in our bathroom. We use a nappy sprayer (a bidet-style hose attached to the toilet tap) to clean any dirty nappies before pailing (we'll make another post about this in the future!) and put them into the pail once the solids have been removed. Wet nappies go directly into the pail, there's no need to prerinse as the washing machine does that for you.
On wash day, you just tip the hamper into your washing machine. You can buy a "pail liner" which is like a big plastic-laminated bag to line your pail and this makes transferring much easier and it gets washed with the nappies. Some people suggest not using a pail liner but they are made from breathable plastic laminated fabric (PUL), the same PUL that is used in your modern cloth nappies. Less work = great in our view, so if you like pail liners, we suggest don't hesitate when it comes to using it.
Not convinced? Here are five great reasons to avoid soaking and dry pail your modern cloth nappies :)
#1. Eliminates drowning hazard
Any water laying around the house is a drowning hazard- it only takes a few centimetres of water in a vessel for a child to drown and nappy buckets are no exception. A Dry Pail eliminates drowning hazards.
#2. Preserves the life of your nappies
Extended soaking is not recommended for PUL (waterproof) fabrics- this is because the plastic is stuck to the fabric outer with tiny dots of glue. If you soak glue, eventually it will become soggy and useless- think about what happens when you get your shoes wet, for example. The glue used in PUL can withstand regular periods of being exposed to wet nappies as that it what it's designed for, but it's not designed to be submerged for hours in soaking solutions.
Dry pailing also prevents break down of absorbent fabrics. When you put a nappy into a bucket of water, it is the perfect breeding ground for bacteria. Some of the bacteria found in poops are "cellulolytic" which means they break down cellulose aka natural fibre fabrics. By Dry Pailing rather than soaking in water, you minimise exposure to cellulolytic bacteria to keep your fabrics in mint condition.
#3. Does not smell!
Air flow is key here. If you keep dirty nappies in a closed, lidded bucket, any odour from the waste will be concentrated in the bucket and will smell awful when you open the bucket. When you use a Dry Pail, any odour from the waste (typically ammonia gas) is dispersed in the air. There is a very small number of ammonia molecules produced from a dry pail compared to the number of other gases making up the air, meaning you don't notice a thing. Magic!
#4. Prevents mould
A Dry Pail permits the nappies to dry out a little after wear. This means the environment in the Dry Pail is less hospitable to mould species that love to inhabit wet laundry.
No heavy buckets, no soaking in chemical solutions, no smells, no drowning hazard, no degradation of fabrics. The Dry Pail offers so many benefits compared to the soaking methods of days gone by. Let your washing machine do the work!!
If you'd like more help with your nappy laundry, we'd love to assist you- simply ask on our Facebook group #getintocloth Queensland. Chat with you soon!
For some people the decision to use cloth nappies is easy while for others it requires more consideration and a little encouragement. Getting started can be daunting- there's a whole new language to learn and wading through the product maze is confusing to say the least. It is really with time and experience with your children that you'll master cloth nappies but there is plenty you can do to be well prepared when you're starting out. We've made this list of our Top 5 tips to help those of you who are getting started!
Tip #1: Choose Nappies Sized To Fit Your Baby
A newborn baby needs newborn sized nappies. Newborn size cloth nappies will fit babies from a teeny 2.5kg through to around 6kg, which for average-sized babies is around 3 months of age. Newborns can wear Modern Cloth Nappies which are the cloth equivalent of disposables, or they can wear a traditional nappy such as terry towelling flats or prefolds under a waterproof (PUL) cover.
Modern Cloth Nappies (MCNs) are great as they are easy to use and a trim fit compared to traditional terry flats, however they are considerably more expensive and take longer to dry. Many newborn styles are All-In-One nappies, meaning there's no stuffing pockets or folding inserts, you just fit the nappy to bub and do up the velcro or snaps. Our All-In-One Package features this style exclusively. Traditional nappies such as terry flats or prefolds under PUL covers are comparatively inexpensive to get started with and are faster to dry, but require folding and Snappi-ing (that's modern day pinning!) so are more labour intensive at change time and there's a little bit of finesse required when it comes to getting a great fit. Many parents choose to try both and a hire package such as our Variety Package accommodates this desire.
Once your baby is around 5-6kg they'll begin to fit one-size-fits-most (OSFM) nappies. OSFM nappies come in number of different styles, all variations on a theme- a waterproof outer and some kind of absorbent inner known as "inserts". The inserts can be sewn in (All-In-One nappy), snap in (All-In-Two nappy) or stuff in (Pocket nappy) among others. You can find a huge amount of information on Youtube and via your favourite cloth nappy manufacturers and retailers. Each style and brand will fit your child/ren differently so it can be worthwhile trying a number of different nappies rather than putting all of your eggs in one basket when you're starting out.
Tip #2: Begin Your Stash with 24-30 Nappies
You'll need a nappy for about every 2 hours during the day, plus whatever you want to do for night time (with a brand new baby you usually change them at each feed). Let's say 8 daytime nappies per day as an example. Multiply the number of nappies you expect to use per day by the number of days you're going to go between washes. If you wash after the 2nd day, 8 x 2 = 16. If you're line drying you'll need a good day of drying time in nice weather so add another 8 nappies (16 + 8 = 24). If you're line drying in bad weather... let's not even go there! If you're tumble drying your nappies you'll need enough to cover the time it takes to wash and dry and fold/stuff/prepare them. You'll want a few extra for emergencies/unexpected poos/stashed in the car etc.
24-30 nappies is generally reported as a reasonable amount of nappies to get you started and as you can see, this estimate is quite reasonable but doesn't give you much wiggle room and for this reason, you'll find many people have more (well that plus they are cute, and addictive, and so on!).
Tip #3: Cloth Wipes Are Easy When You're Already Using Cloth Nappies
You can buy cloth wipes (many nappy manufacturers sell them- we stock Grovia Cloth Wipes as an add-on to our nappy hire packages), sew your own (two layers of flannelette is popular) or use what you already have (such as cotton washcloths). Store them dry and wet as you go, they easily become smelly if you keep them wet in a container. As for wetting them as you go, we like to use a 1 litre squeezy sauce bottle such as a Decor Sauce Bottle, it's super easy and you just refill the bottle when it runs out. No need for any special solutions, just water is fine for newborn bums! Pop used wipes into your nappy pail and wash with your nappies.
Tip #4: Prepare For The Poo
Before you have your bub it's worthwhile thinking about how you might deal with poo clean up. You'll be doing clean up no matter which nappies you choose (disposables often leak newborn poo badly and then you have to change your bub's outfit and clean their clothes too!). Newborn poo is the least offensive poo you'll ever have to deal with which is definitely nature's way of easing you gently into parenting. You can rinse and pretreat the poopy newborn nappies in your laundry sink (just don your gloves and a bar of Sard Wonder Soap) or you can invest for the future and buy a nappy sprayer. We've had our Little Squirt nappy sprayer around four years at the time of writing and it's brilliant! You can buy a Little Squirt from many online nappy businesses. There are other nappy sprayers too, this is a helpful write up courtesy of the Australian Nappy Association.
Tip #5: Ask for Help!
The online cloth nappy community is a wonderful thing to be a part of- it's amazingly active and helpful. If you've any questions that your retailer can't help with then online is the place to ask. You can join any number of groups on Facebook, each with their own variation on the cloth nappy theme, and start chatting. You'll quickly find your new online home to discuss all things cloth! We have a little group called #getintocloth Queensland where are are always welcome :)