How to look after what you buy! Rather important really.
It's the same for all the nappy related products I sell-I recommend what's called dry-pailing. To dry-pail, you simply place wet nappies, wipes and covers straight into a bucket. For soiled nappies, rinse them clean first. You can buy something dedicated for this purpose, such as a Little Squirt, or simply shake off what you can, then flush the toilet, letting the water wash over the nappy.Then again, pop it straight into a bucket.
When you have enough to wash a load, pop them in the machine and set it to rinse-only first. After this has finished, do a normal wash with one-third to one-half of the detergent. Why so little? Detergent is designed to shift dirt and stains, and your freshly-rinsed nappies are already pretty clean. Cold water is fine. Don't add fabric softener as it coats the fabric and reduces absorbency.
Line dry-this is the key. This is why you don't need to soak them in horrible chemicals, because the sun does the same job of sanitising them. I don't recommend using a dryer, but if you absolutely must line dry as much as possible then finish them off on a cool setting-too much heat will ruin your PUL and elastic and reduce the lifespan in general. Plus if you do it a lot your nappies will get smelly, and you risk falling into the trap of using lots of unneccessary (and generally nasty and expensive) products to fix that.
Now, some common questions-
Does dry-pailing really work?
Yes. I doubted it too, but after four years of doing it i'm pretty convinced. I had some trouble with nappies getting smelly when living in Tasmania during winter, when there was so little sunlight, but apart from that there have been no issues. There are some grey-water safe sanitising solutions available now if you live somewhere where winter is grey and days are short-however I haven't used them and don't know how they would affect the fabrics, so use at your own risk.
Argh, newborn poo-how do I get it off?!
First of all, if your baby is exclusively breastfed you don't need to-it's water soluble and will wash out in your pre-rinse. Yes i've done this and yes it really works! Even though it was working I was totally convinced when he pooed in the bath-it was like someone had poured food dye in.
If you're formula feeding it needs to come off beforehand-if the dunk'n'flush method isn't working a Little Squirt would be a worthy investment.
How do I get my nappies softer?
Line drying does tend to make things crunchy, especially when they've been baking in the summer sun. A quick scrunch tends to take the worst of the cardboard feel from them. They soften up pretty quickly when on.
Can I use creams/lotions/powders?
I haven't found powders (eg cornstarch) to cause any problems. Creams and lotions, especially zinc ones, leave a terrible residue. There's two options available if you have to use these. The first is to use liners to protect the nappy-you can buy regular disposable liners, flushable disposable liners, or use a lining fabric such as microfleece or suedecloth. The regular disposables don't do a particularly good job, and i've never tried the flushable. The fabric ones can be rewashed and used many times and they're my preference-neither fabric requires hemming so no sewing skill are required to make your own. The second option is to let your nappies get covered in cream, then when it's over scrub them with a toothbrush and some dishwashing liquid. I've never tried this either, it's not my idea of a fun way to spend an afternoon! But it comes highly recommended.
Can I use this method on flat nappies/cotton terry squares?
Yes! Your nappies don't have to be 'modern' to take advantage of modern knowledge. Dry-pailing works just as well on squares as it does on shaped nappies.
Prewashing-do I have to do it?
It depends on the fabric. For synthetics no prewashing is required (PUL, suedecloth, minky, microfleece). For natural fabrics some is usually needed. Bamboo and cotton are usually fine to use straight away with the prewashing i've given them, although they may not reach full absorbency for a couple of washes. Hemp can require up to 8 washes before it reaches full absorbency, so definitely needs prewashing.
Usually, with new nappies, i'll prewash hemp ones a couple of times, then use them for short periods at home for the first few wears. For bamboo and cotton do the same thing without the prewashes. Always judge prewashes on the fabric that needs the most washing-if it's hemp and cotton, treat as for hemp.
Prewashes can be done in with the rest of your washing-there's no need to do them seperately.
If you have any other questions I haven't answered, please feel free to ask and i'll do my best to answer them for you.