So I finally sent out the Pea Pods nappy pack from my birthday giveaway. There's also been quite a number of Christmas sales and end-of-year clearances from various cloth nappy suppliers... it's been a challenge holding back on getting more cute fluff.

However I'm thinking that some of you might be welcoming new additions to your fluffy stash. With all that comes plenty of pre-washing as part of the routine with fluffy mail.

Manufacturers usually recommend multiple washes of cloth nappies before you start using them. The number of pre-washes vary from 3-4 to sometimes 8-10 washes.
Why the need for pre-washing?
  • The first reason is for basic cleaning before use – you’ll want to remove any residue from the manufacturing process before you put that fluff on your bub’s bum
  • The second more important reason is to ‘prep’ the diaper before use – pre-washing removes any natural oils or waxes that might act as a barrier on the fabric, thus preventing it from absorbing moisture effectively
How many times to pre-wash?
Well it depends. I know it sounds cliché but it really does. As a general rule, the more washings the fabric undergoes, the better it is for boosting their absorbency. However if 8-10 pre-washes sounds excessive, you’re probably right.

Here are some general guidelines based on various articles I’ve read and discussions I’ve had to help you decide how many pre-washes you need:
  • Pocket shells, AI2 shells and covers only need to undergo one pre-wash just for general cleaning before use
  • Synthetic materials normally don’t really benefit much from multiple pre-washes, so microfiber inserts can be washed just once or twice before using
  • Natural materials like cotton, bamboo and hemp would require several washes to prep their absorbency. Hot water is recommended (but not always necessary)
  • Most manufacturers cite a quantity of 5-8 pre-washes but I personally reckon you can get away with 3-4 to start with and catch up on subsequent laundry loads
  • If you are thinking of doing slightly less numbers of pre-washes, just be a little more mindful of potential leaks when bub is wearing the nappy… subsequent laundry loads will eventually bring the nappies up to speed with their washes
  • Prefolds may require following through the recommended pre-washes to fluff and quilt them up and remove all the natural oils and waxy film
  • Drying between washes may not be necessary, so you can transfer the washed nappies straight into the next load if you happen to be doing another batch of laundry
  • With prefolds it’s normally recommended to dry them between washes to ‘quilt’ up the fabric and shrink them to their appropriate size
Is there a special way to do a pre-wash?
There is no particular ‘right’ way to do a pre-wash. I’ve heard many variations of the pre-wash routine, but the general ideal is all about cleaning and rinsing the nappies out. Here are some suggested ways you can do it:
  • Wash them with a standard load of baby clothes or your own clothes
  • Run one full load of all your new fluff, then remove the shells and covers to dry and run another wash with just the inserts/boosters/prefolds – toss in a few baby clothes if you have any to top up the load
  • Wash them with a load of your existing cloth nappies after running a pre-rinse cycle to rinse all the poo/pee residue off (or just toss everything together from the start, everything is going to get washed clean at the end anyway)
  • Divide the nappies into batches and wash them with your regular laundry loads throughout the week
Are there any special detergents or chemicals to use?

The general rule is: less is more
  • You probably only need to use about half of the amount of detergent you would normally use with the load you’re washing
  • Cloth nappy manufacturers will normally recommend no bleach, fragrance, fabric softener or enzymes to be added to the wash. All that stuff generally does more damage than good to your nappies
  • If you have hard water, you might need to top up the detergent a little more and possibly run an extra rinse – there are also special agents you can get to soften the water to optimise the wash
To read more on my cloth nappy journey, you can also check out my other cloth nappy posts or stop by my personal blog

P.S. Remember to check back for my fluffy love giveaway. Look forward to sharing the details with you soon.
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