Do I need to regularly bleach or disinfect my cloth nappies?

Washing modern cloth nappies is not the same as the old advice of washing terry toweling nappies where soaking and sanitising MUST result in a white and fluffy nappy. It is no longer valid and is outdated.

Modern cloth nappies require an easier set of washing instructions. Why? Cloth nappies are made from softer materials, intricately made with new and better materials and are less likely to stain. Modern cloth nappies no longer resemble, in any form, the old fashioned terry toweling nappies.

But what if this easier way of washing is not working. Should we revert to the old ways of washing? No, not initially. We want to preserve the longevity of your cloth nappies and we need to identify the cause of the issues first.
The instructions we provide at Apikali for washing modern cloth nappies aim to make your life easier, are generic across all brands and provide the simplest washing routine that will ensure your nappies are clean, fresh, usable and ensure longevity.
At Apikali we have previously talked about a simple wash routine (link). This routine has been proven time and again by myself, Trudy and Sally, over 23 years of nappy washing practice.
washing cloth nappies

When might this routine not work as efficiently?

– an old washing machine
– a front loader
– baby is sick or has an infection that affects their wee and/or poo
– vaccinations
– water supply, such as living in the outback
– no access to washing products
– lack of funds
– life is just really busy
– child does really disgusting poo due to allergies
– acidic urine
– washing powder is not working
The above list doesn’t necessarily require a unique wash routine. In most cases it requires a minor tweak to the simple washing routine that we suggest, such as adding more water, changing cloth nappy style or an extra rinse cycle.
When the simple routine is not working, we have found that the old and inaccurate information comes out. Parents who search online forums or Facebook Groups are often inundated with a plethora of information that is hard to digest. We have seen this result in confusion, frustration and the willingness to give up. There can even be an atmosphere of conspiracy theory occurring, instead of assisting the parent in need.
The two biggest questions we are asked include…should I be disinfecting or using bleach?
This is our response.
To those who purport regular disinfecting, sanitising and/or bleaching when none of the above issues are present, we believe are continuing the ‘old ways’. They are not necessary on a regular basis and will cause more harm to your nappies than actually solving any issues. Remember, modern cloth nappies do not represent their old fashioned counterparts, and this is why they are a convenient choice. Our washing machines are more powerful and efficient compared to 50 years ago. Modern washing machines provide a thorough clean, and negate the need to soak nappies in any solutions. A quality washing powder and a pre or post rinse provide the same job as soaking did.
Regular soaking or bleaching is in most circumstances for peace of mind or cosmetic reasons. The down side of cosmetic improvements is the use of chemicals that can cause rashes on little baby’s skin. It would be irresponsible of a brand/retailer to advise using harsh chemicals to clean cloth nappies that could harm children, when it is not absolutely necessary. If you would like stain-free white cloth nappies, then please stick with terry toweling nappies from Supermarkets or prefolds, which can take harsher treatments. More importantly, consider your choice of using chemicals on your baby in the pursuit of perfectly white and fluffy nappies.
(Let me interject here with a fantastic blog from Trudy discussing the unnecessary job of strip washing).
My final thoughts…in the past 5 years cloth nappies have gain fashionable popularity. Cloth nappy design has changed significantly. As such washing instructions are changing and the old ways of even 10 years ago are no longer valid. We no longer need to use brand specific powders/liquids to wash nappies.
Keep it simple. Don’t get lost in the world of groups or websites that don’t directly address your needs or issues. If you have a query regarding your specific washing machine, washing product combination or reactions to products, consider putting these to a forum of parents. But be aware that they don’t know your personal circumstances.
Our best advice is … 
Get to know your washing machine.
Choose a gentle detergent for your cloth nappies
And experiment. 
If you are having an issue, feel free to contact us. We work with our brands of cloth nappies and parents, to continue gathering knowledge and shaping this industry to assist parents to use cloth nappies.
Your Cloth Doc

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