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What is Strip Washing?

If you find your nappies have developed a strong smell, especially when they become wet, it is likely that detergent/ammonia from urine has built up in your nappies.

Don't worry, help is at hand. It means you need to fine tune your laundry routine, but first it is time to do a "strip wash" to remove those residues. There are many versions of "strip washing" out there, including using Sunlight liquid, dishwasher tablets, vinegar, or even bleach. We do not recommend any of these. These substances can destroy fabrics and so should never be used with modern reusable nappies.

Here is how we always recommend you strip wash:

  • Ensure your machine is clean. You should run a maintenance cycle once a month. If you haven't done this lately run this first and check your machine filters are clean.
  • Next put the nappies through a rinse cycle only with NO detergent. If your machine doesn't have a rinse only cycle use a cool quick wash. This is to get them nice and wet already so there is more water held in them for the main washes.
  • Next wash using a FULL dose of detergent and wash at 60 degrees on a long cycle (about 2.5 to 3 hours) and ideally additional water (sensitive or sometimes called super rinse)
  • No need to dry in between for the second wash, use 60 degrees on the longest possible wash as above with NO detergent and ideally additional water (sensitive or sometimes called super rinse)
  • Finally put your nappies through a rinse cycle again as in step 1. If you see any detergent bubbles in the rinse keep on rinsing until you don't see any more.

This should sort them for the short term.

Preventing detergent build up

Detergent build up comes about for a combination of reasons. It is likely you have been a bit over zealous with your detergent. Washing machines are also highly water efficient these days so there is less water flushing through them. Too much detergent and too little water can mean detergent builds up in the fabric.

After you have done your strip wash, follow these laundry tips to prevent this happening again:

  • Try rinsing soiled nappies before they go in the bucket to loosen the dirt
  • Run a cold rinse cycle before you wash
  • Set machine to the longest main wash cycle setting
  • Avoid overfilling the machine - the drum should be no more than 3/4 full when wet. Fuller than this and the nappies won't have enough room to agitate and get clean.
  • Use less detergent. A good starting point is to use half the recommended detergent dose for your load (not quite full) and water hardness. Go from there and adjust as necessary. Remember, your nappies shouldn't smell of detergent at the end of the wash.
  • Ensure you run a maintenance cycle on your machine monthly.