As a rule, I don’t usually say you must do this, or you mustn’t do that when it comes to cloth nappies. Of course there is always an exception to this rule, which is why I’m going to tell you why you should always rinse your nappies before you wash them.
Why rinse your nappies
When you are laundering your nappies, you may wonder why you would bother to rinse them, after all they’re being washed in the machine, but there are a couple of good reasons why you should always rinse your nappies. Unlike most items that you wash in your machine, cloth nappies are generally soaked through when they go into the machine. If you stop for a minute and think about what they’re soaked with… mmm nice. If you don’t rinse them before washing them, then the nappies already have all of that lovely stuff in them, and swishing around the washing machine while you’re trying to get them clean. If you rinse your nappies before you put them through a full wash cycle, then you’ve already rinsed out and diluted a good portion on the urine that’s soaked into them.
This rinsing also has another benefit, the very strong smelling nappies that you sometimes get, are often caused by a build up of uric acid in the fabric of the nappies, that turns into ammonia. Giving your nappies a good rinse will help to get rid of it and help to get rid of smell issues.
When to rinse
You can either rinse your nappies when you take them off your baby, with a quick blast in the laundry sink under the tap, or by using a nappy sprayer to rinse them into the toilet. Alternatively you can give them a rinse in your machine before you wash them. Some machines have a pre-wash setting for this, just put them through a cold pre-wash with no added detergent. If you washing machine doesn’t have this setting, which mine doesn’t, then you can do what I do, I usually just select the rinse cycle first, and then give them a full wash after that.
If you’re suffering from stinky nappies, then there’s even more reason why you should always rinse your nappies before washing them, as most smelly nappy issues can be fixed with the addition of a little extra water to rinse everything. If you are having real problems, particularly with night nappies and the like, then giving them a rinse as soon as they come off with really help. I would even give just the inserts of our night nappies a soak in cold water (with nothing else added) for about an hour before putting in the nappy bucket. It got rid of that horrid, eye burning stench that you often get with toddler night nappies.
Why not soak?
Here I am busy telling you why you should always rinse your nappies and you may be wondering why I don’t just say soak them, as people used to do. Most people don’t bother soaking cloth nappies these days because of safety concerns, having a large bucket of water sitting around in a house with small children probably isn’t the best idea. They also avoid it because they are worried that soaking will damage the fabrics. Certainly if you soak your nappies with anything added in the water, as people used to do, it probably isn’t going to do your nappies any favours and will cause them to wear out sooner. Using the likes of nappy san isn’t particularly good for elastics, velcro, plastic snaps and pul fabrics that make up modern cloth nappies. If you really do want to soak them though and you have somewhere safe to store your cloth nappy bucket that your children can’t reach, then I would recommend only using water with nothing added, and only soaking the inserts. The fabric of inserts is less likely to be damaged by sitting in water before washing, after all if you weren’t sitting it in water, it would be sitting already soaked with urine which is far stronger and more likely to do damage. It really isn’t necessary to soak your nappies though, giving them a good rinse is more than enough.
Do you usually rinse your cloth nappies before washing them?