Washing instructions - how do I wash my Blümchen cloth diapers?
Introduction: Absorbent and waterproof fabrics have completely different demands on washing programs and detergents. Washing both together is possible, but not recommended, because both components suffer and the washing result is also affected. Waterproof pants are always an obstacle to rinsing, which means that the urine and dirty water are usually not completely removed from the absorbent materials. Therefore, one has to counteract with very intensive washing programs, low fill level in the machine and very effective detergents. If you separate absorbent diapers (panty diapers, absorbent pads, prefolds) from waterproof panties, they will be washed more effectively and clean faster, and problems with bad odors will not occur. Waterproof panties can be washed separately using an ultra-short program with very little color washing powder. This saves energy and gives the best results. Also, the durability of waterproof pants increases significantly.
Washing: Cloth diapers made of bamboo and cotton should be washed 3-5 times until they absorb well. After 10 washes they get their full absorbency. Inserts made of polyester, diaper covers and covers only need to be washed once.
Storage: Store the used cloth diapers in a dry diaper pail or wet bag (no additional water) as cool as possible and for a maximum of 2 days. Never soak or pre-wash before storing! This leads to loss of fibres.
Soak: Do not soak your diapers before washing. This leads to strong swelling, especially with soft fibres such as bamboo fibre, which makes the fibres very vulnerable. During the subsequent washing many fibres then precipitate - the diapers become bald or thin after 6-8 months. Even the fine organic cotton twill becomes perforated.
- Please close the velcro of the cloth diapers on the laundry tabs.
- Fill the washing machine to about 2/3. If there are many waterproof envelopes/ AIO in the wash, then fill them to a maximum of 50%, as this will reduce the rinsing result.
- Rinse the cloth diapers once in cold water ("Rinse" program). Then spin them to separate the urine. This is not necessary for less soiled diapers or separate washing of absorbent diapers.
- Then add a cloth diaper-friendly detergent (dose as accurately as possible according to instructions) and wash at 40°C or 60°C (program "boil wash/color wash intensive"), depending on the diaper model (observe laundry label). The water PLUS button improves the washing result. ECO programs are not suitable due to the low water level.
- Do not use fabric softener.
- Do not use washing additives.
- Throw up to expel as much water as possible. The nappies will then dry faster and there will also be less lime deposits.
- The outer sleeves and covers should be dried on the linen/underwear rack. Inserts and diapers can be placed at low temperature in the dryer.
Washing program Suction diapers /AIO: Select the cotton intensive program in the length of 2-2.5 hours. Diapers are usually heavily soiled or urine-soaked and need an intensive wash cycle. In addition, select the water PLUS button, this is very important because of the highly absorbent fabrics and improves the washing result. ECO programs are usually not suitable because of the low water level and extremely long soaking times. Often, when using ECO programs for a long time, there is a buildup of odors in the washing machine. If you only wash absorbent diapers (no AIO) you can use a full detergent with oxygen bleach.
Washing program waterproof overpants/ pocket diaper covers: Select the easy-care/ outdoor program (approx. 1 hour) for heavy soiling, or the ultra-short program (20 min) for only bad odor. Use only detergent without bleach (color detergent) in low dosage.
Which detergent can I use?
Powder detergents wash more intensively and effectively than liquid detergents. Liquid detergents also often contain oils or cationic surfactants which reduce the absorbency of the diapers. You should only use detergents that are free of:
- enzymes (especially for skin-sensitive babies); enzyme cellulase should be avoided in absorbent diapers.
- Chlorine bleach, oxygen bleach (especially for PUL = waterproof envelopes)
- optical brighteners (very problematic for PUL = waterproof envelopes; AIO)
- Soap and oils (only with StayDry or microfiber/ polyester absorbent fibers = big problem with pocket diapers with StayDry membrane)
- Cationic surfactants/ fabric softeners (for all absorbent fabrics; these surfactants make the fibre water-repellent).
The dosage should be adjusted to the hardness of the water. Fill the washing machine only 50-70%, so that the diapers can move freely and are well rinsed. Due to the waterproof membrane and the multiple layers of fabric sewn on top of each other, the diapers are more difficult to rinse for the washing machine than conventional laundry and therefore need more space. If you wash only absorbent diapers, then weigh them so that you know what amount you can fill (refer to the instruction manual of your washing machine, there you will find the filling amount in kg for different fibers).
Unfortunately, after 1-2 months of use, the dm ultra senisitiv detergent leads to moisture being pulled up through the seam holes and along the elastic finishes. I therefore do not recommend it for washing cloth nappies, at least not for washing waterproof fabrics.
Which washing temperature is reasonable?
The hotter the diapers are washed, the faster they wear out.
Nursing poo does not come off at 40°C, nor at 60°C nor at 95°C, not even with bleach. Nursing poo stains are residues of dyes that are not UV-stable. So if you hang the wet diapers in the sun or at least in daylight, the stains will disappear within a very short time. This is the gentlest method of stain removal when stains in a diaper are actually annoying.
Please keep in mind that these stains are not dirt with an unhygienic component, but simply paint that does not harm anyone. Especially for the sake of the environment (high washing temperatures produce more CO², the diapers wear out earlier and have to be replaced with new resources) one should simply ignore such small blemishes. 😊
Therefore we recommend a diaper wash at 40°C. This is most sustainable and protects the fibre. Especially PUL fabrics are very sensitive and wear out a lot if you wash them at 60°C. As a result, the waterproof fabric will break after 1.5 years. If you wash the nappy at 40°C with a suitable detergent, the covers will last for a whole nappy period. In case of heavy stains or odour problems there is nothing wrong with 60°C washing. The nappies should not be boiled, because of the elastic cuffs and the waterproof fabric. StayDry fabrics and microfibres also harden and discolour when boiled. This also reduces their function.
Which ingredients should I avoid?
Enzymes: they dissolve stains, but they also react with the skin in many ways. The enzyme cellulase (colour detergent) dissolves cellulose fibres, such as viscose. This causes the nappies to become bald. Other enzymes are skin-reactive, especially protein-dissolving enzymes.
Preservatives: these react with the skin when solved in urine and can result in intolerance. Many preservatives are toxic, harmful to genetic material and irritating to the skin. Preservatives are only found in liquid detergents, why we recommend to use powder detergents.
Optical brighteners: these particularly like to deposit on the waterproof fabric, which causes the diapers to leak or pull moisture through the seams.
Chlorine bleach: ruins the waterproof fabric.
Powder softener (zeolite): should only be dosed according to instructions, always taking into account the zeolite content of the detergent. Overdosed water softeners are deposited in microfibres and block their function.
Soda (washing soda): is a good washing booster, which has a strong alkaline effect. Please maxximal 1 coffee spoon per machine. High doses of soda over-alkalize the diapers and thus lead to a loss of function of the microfiber. In this case, please buffer with a weak acid solution (Ulrich lactic acid softener with water or a weak citric acid solution) to make the diapers absorbent again. Overdosed soda causes rapid aging of all fabrics, the fabrics break after a few months.
Soap/oils: for Stay-Dry and microfibres. Grease residues from soap can make these fabrics water-repellent, StayDry membranes then no longer pass moisture through but repel it - the nappy leaks. Microfibres in absorbent cores stick together and can no longer absorb water. In this case, too, the nappy leaks. Powder detergent can also be soap-based, please read the information on the pack or ask the manufacturer if the detergent is suitable for functional fibres. Unfortunately, this danger exists with all detergents made from plant oils. Vegetable oils are natural substances and therefore not standardised, so that the saponification value can never be adjusted 100%. Depending on the batch, this leads to a few percent of fat in the detergent, which then triggers a water-repellent effect in polyester. It therefore makes sense to test the membranes for permeability from time to time, as a detergent can also change from batch to batch.
Oxygen bleach/ stain salt: do not apply directly to the fabrics! However, one measuring spoon per machine in the rinse compartment has an antibacterial effect and neutralises odours (already included in some heavy-duty detergents). Pay attention to the temperatures the respective manufacturer specifies for activating the oxygen. There are low-temperature detergents (containing the oxygen activator TAED) and those that work from 60°C. Please do not use with every wash as oxygen bleach reduces the life of waterproof fabrics. Use oxygen bleach only as needed - for heavily soiled nappies or persistent bad odours. If possible, do not use for PUL, wash overpants separately.
How do I remove stains from my Blümchen cloth diapers?
Stains from nursing chairs are not UV stable. Simply hang the Blümchen cloth nappies in the sun. The stains will disappear very quickly. If you value stain-free nappies, always rinse chair stains immediately with clear Rinse stains immediately with water and then squeeze the nappies well (do not pre-treat with detergent immediately after changing and store them dripping wet). Dried-in stains are more difficult to remove. You can pre-treat stains in cotton nappies with stain soap (curd soap, laundry soap, bile soap - not for Stay-Dry surfaces or microfibre terry) immediately before washing. This improves the washing result. For microfibre and bamboo, please use Ulrich stain remover with panama bark extract or add some oxygen bleach to the wash. Please do not apply powder detergent directly to the stains. Please do not soak the stains, as this will lead to fibre breakage and fibre loss during the subsequent wash. All nappies, including prefolds, will become bald and holey as a result.
Never apply stain salt and bleach directly to the stains. Please dose into the induction bowl - according to recommendation.
How should I dry my Blümchen cloth diapers?
It is ideal to shake out the diapers briefly before drying, so that the layers of fabric glued together by spinning separate from each other again and the diapers do not harden as a result.
The waterproof covers should be line dried, preferably in the sun, as this causes the yellow stains to disappear and the UV light disinfects the nappies.
The inserts can be placed in the tumble dryer. Finish drying the cloth diapers on the line to prevent overheating.
For ecological reasons, however, we recommend that you do not use a tumble dryer. It is more energy-saving and cheaper to buy two to three cloth diapers more, but not to use a tumble dryer.
Please note: Fabric diapers should always be completely dry before being placed in the cupboard. Wetly folded diapers become musty and bacteria can multiply.