Frequently asked questions
There are many misunderstandings about washing nappies. We would like to give you our advice, based on our 30 years of experience of which 12 years as a nappy service. Not only that experience, but also our knowledge of chemistry, textiles, industrial washing of textiles, technical knowledge of appliances and the knowledge we have gained from laundries, from a detergent manufacturer and, of course, from practice, has lead to the following advice.
You can share this knowledge with your customers, mention it in a newsletter or use it on your website. It will ensure that you receive less questions about nappy washing and that you can answer your customers' questions more quickly and adequately. We hope you find it useful.
Washing cloth nappies
Nothing is washed as often as nappies, just think about it: two or three times a week they are being put into the washing machine. Even your favourite shirt is probably not washed 100 times a year! So the fabric has to endure a lot, which is why the quality of nappies is so important.
It used to be simple: the large pieces of cloth used as nappies were made of cotton. Cotton can take a lot: it is a strong fibre, resilient, absorbent, easy to wash (boil-proof), it does not felt, is moth-proof, is supple and has a low tendency to electrostatic charge. So cotton is ideal for nappies.
In recent years more (synthetic) fabrics have been developed with often wonderful qualities for nappies, such as quick drying, supple, more absorbing. This means that these nappies sometimes have to be washed in a different way.
Water is the most important ingredient in nappy washing! If nappies absorb all the water during the washing process, they cannot be rinsed properly and urine, poo and detergent residues remain in the fabric. Make sure the water level in the washing machine is high. When the nappies are heavily soiled, a pre-wash can be used.
Do not overload the washing machine. The nappies need to have enough space to be rinsed clean. If you can keep one hand vertical upright on the pile of laundry in the drum, the drum is full. It is also useful to weigh the laundry to check that the drum is not overloaded. Check your washing machine's user manual (you can probably find it online) and find out how much kilograms can be put in the drum for the washing cycle you choose for washing the nappies.
And new nappies
Wash new nappies at least twice before first use. Use a normal amount of detergent for the first wash; the second wash can be done without any detergent. For these washes, wash the nappies at the maximum temperature indicated on the care label. Nappies made of cotton, bamboo and other natural fibres reach their maximum absorbency after about 10 washes.
Detergent has several functions: it must loosen the dirt from textiles and keep it floating in the water. This is how laundry gets clean: the floating particles are removed by the water pumped out of the washing machine.
If too little detergent is used, the dirt cannot be kept in suspension and falls back onto the fabric. The water is spun out and the dirt particles remain in the fabric. When drying the nappies, the dirt particles dry in the fabric. The particles are so small that they are invisible to the naked eye. The nappy looks clean, but it is not. The result is that the nappies develop an unpleasant smell next time they get used and get wet with urine.
If too much detergent is used, the powder cannot be removed properly from the fibre. To find out if you have used too much detergent, check if there are any soap bubbles visible during the last rinse cycle. If this is the case, the amount of detergent is too high or the amount of water too low. The dosage can then be reduced. Do not confuse soap bubbles with water bubbles!
Use a detergent without optical bleach and chlorine and as little a soap content as possible (< 5%). Soap and oil-based detergents (as often seen in homemade detergents) can cause the microfibres used in some nappies to stick. This makes these nappies less absorbent, more smelly and they might start leaking. Do not use vinegar as a fabric softener: it is not good for the elastic used in nappies and it will dissolve cellulose fibres such as cotton and bamboo.
Recommendations for detergents
A powder detergent cleans better than a liquid detergent and should therefore be preferred when washing cloth nappies. It is difficult to recommend a brand of detergent because the ingredients of detergents change all the time. TotsBots only recommends TotsBots Potion powder for washing nappies. It cleans at 30°C and has a low soap content. Next to Potion, the best recommendation is to use a "colour washing powder", paying attention to the ingredients as mentioned above.
It is inevitable that nappies will get stained. There is a natural bleaching agent: the sun. So if possible, hang the nappies in the sun to dry. Harsh stain removers do not work as well as sunlight and can also damage the fibres of the nappy. All nappy manufacturers state that the warranty will be voided by the use of these removers, so bear this in mind.
Close the Velcro before washing the nappies as the fabric may otherwise be damaged. These damages are not covered by the warranty.
Storing dirty nappies
The nappies can be stored in a nappy bin fitted with a laundry mesh. The nappies should be washed after 2 days. If nappies are not washed for too long, urine can affect the (bamboo) fabric, as shown below.
Dry the nappies preferably on the line. It is better for the environment. If the use of a dryer cannot be avoided, dry the nappies on the lowest setting possible. Make sure the nappies are always completely dry before storing them, otherwise they will smell musty! Check the label to see if the nappy can be put in the dryer. The dryer symbol is a circle inside a square. The more dots in the circle, the higher the temperature of the dryer can be.
Diaper rash cream/barrier cream
Barrier creams, such as Sudocrem and other oil-based products, can coat the fibres of the nappy and reduce their absorbency. Always use a liner if using a barrier cream.
This depends on the age of the child and the type of nappy chosen.
For nappies in 1 size (from birth to potty training) we recommend:
- 24 nappies
- (paper) liners
- a nappy pail (preferably a large one of 16 litres) with 2 laundry nets
For nappies in 2 sizes, we recommend
- 20 nappies size 1
- 18 nappies size 2
- 4-6 cover pants in size 1
- 6 diaper covers in size 2
- paper liners
- a nappy pail (preferably a large one of 16 litres) with 2 laundry nets
- washing powder
Generally speaking, you should change as often as with a disposable nappy. The number of times depends on the number of feedings a child receives. It is usual to change the nappy after each feed. A newborn has 7 feedings per 24 hours, so a baby will be changed 7-8 times = 7-8 nappies per 24 hours.
A washable nappy lasts about 3 hours during the day and longer at night, sometimes up to 12 hours when the Bamboozle Stretch is used and the child is not fed at night.
Yes, of course!
In the beginning, the same nappy is used at night as during the day. After a while, the nappy no longer suffices, which can be noticed by leaks or a soaking when changing the nappy. We then recommend adding an extra - bamboo - insert to the nappy or using a special night nappy such as Bamboozle Stretch.
That depends on 3 things:
1. the nappy sizes
Suppose you buy 24 nappies in one size (for example Bamboozle Stretch size 2). This number is fine for the daily need of nappies: 7-8 per day and washing every 2nd day. At the end of the nappy period, i.e. after 2 to 2.5 years, the nappies will be reasonably worn out.
When buying nappies in 2 sizes (e.g. Bamboozle Stretch in both sizes) the nappies are washed less often than a nappy in 1 size. Per size a person needs less, but also the nappy will most likely not be worn out yet! So if there is another child to come, this can be very advantageous.
2. the number of nappies
The number of nappies is also important. If you buy 20 nappies in one size, they will wear out more than if you buy 24.
3. finally, washing
Laundry wears out - and this is a bit of textile knowledge - by 3 types of friction:
- from the wall of the drum against the washing
- from the washing against the other washing
- water against the washing
It is therefore easy to imagine that a nappy wears more heavily if it is always washed at 60°C and put in a tumble dryer than if it is also washed at 40°C from time to time and always dried on the line.
We can never guarantee that a nappy will last for 2 children because the customer chooses a particular nappy, the size or sizes and how they are going to be washed.
Nappy rash is caused by major changes in a child's body, such as teething. The composition of the stools changes (so-called "sharp" stools) and this, combined with urine, can be aggressive for the delicate skin. Timely nappy changes prevent nappy rash. Soft oils in wipes can "soak" the skin for too long which is undesirable. Washable wipes, like the BilliesBox, prevent this. The wipes are simply washed together with the nappies.
Air permeable nappies are best for the skin: so washable nappies! More and more parents of children with allergies choose our nappies. The skin is the largest organ of the human body and if it cannot breathe well, skin problems often arise. With washable nappies, these problems often disappear like snow in the sun.
Often children develop red bum when their food changes or teeth start coming through. The very first rule is to let the bottom dry completely before changing the nappy. If cream is used, put a paper nappy insert on the nappy, otherwise the cream will soak into the fabric and stop it absorbing. Nappies made of natural materials are best during a period of red skin.
The nappy needs changing more often and care should be taken with ready-made wipes: the ingredients are not always gentle on the skin, even the "sensitive" ones.
Skin care products used on the child can also cause red skin.
Too much washing powder may also have been used in the nappy wash, leaving it deep in the fibres. To test this, wash the nappies twice with an extra rinse cycle at 60°C, one after the other and without washing powder. If there are still a lot of soap bubbles in the last rinse cycle, this indicates that less washing powder should be used in future.
Finally, if a child's red buttocks persist for a long time, see a doctor.
Research by Milieu Centraal (public organization that provides information about environmental topics) has shown that washable nappies are better for the environment than disposable ones. The way you wash plays a big role too. We recommend washing with a full drum (i.e. once every 2 or 3 days), at a washing temperature of 40°C to 60°C maximum (see the washing instructions supplied with the nappies) and not using the dryer if this is not necessary.
Zoning is very important: the shorter the nappy period, the better, also from an environmental point of view!