Are reusable nappies hygienic? Here’s the truth

One of the most common questions we hear is, 'are reusable nappies hygienic?' We believe that if you wash your cloth nappies properly, they are just as hygienic as disposables. So in this post, we tackle your questions about hygiene and cloth nappies once and for all!

 Reusable nappies

Don't they harbour germs that cause nappy rash even after you wash them?

Here’s a fact of life: bacteria are everywhere. There are no sterile nappies, and even if your nappies arrive at your home sterile, they soon won’t be.
Nappy rash usually develops when components of wee break down into ammonia, which irritates your baby's bum. If you're unlucky, bacteria or yeast can invade the rash, resulting in an infection.

When you wash your nappies, you need to make sure that you kill any germs in the nappy to prevent and clear-up rashes. Some people believe that the only way to kill these germs is by using temperatures as high as 90 C or using harsh chemicals like chlorine bleach, but this can damage your reusable nappies.

However, tests have shown that washing at 40-60C in a long wash with a good detergent kills the vast majority of bacteria and yeast, preventing cross-contamination, without ruining your nappies.

We should also remind you that if your baby’s poo leaks out of their nappy onto their clothes, you wouldn’t throw them out (we hope!). You would just wash them, so why should nappies be any different?

Washing machine

You have to clean the poo off the nappy, surely that’s unhygienic?

Let’s get real here. If you’re going to be a parent, you WILL get poo on your hands. It is inevitable. You might even get it on your face.

Whether the poo comes from a reusable nappy, a disposable nappy, your baby’s bum, or anywhere else is irrelevant. But don’t worry, you can clean your hands (and face) quickly and easily with soap and water. Crisis averted.

Poo emoji model on a road 

Don't reusable nappies sit around getting smelly for ages?

Most people who use reusable nappies wash their nappies every two to three days. And in between those times, the nappies are in a bucket or wet bag that keeps the smell in.

Unless you have a daily bin collection, your disposable nappies probably sit around in your home for a couple of days before you empty the bin, and then up to two weeks (!) in your wheelie bin before they are collected.
So no, reusables don’t sit around longer or smell more.

Hammering down the facts on hygiene

● It is essential to wash reusable nappies properly to kill germs.
● Research has shown that using a long wash with a good detergent at 40-60C is enough to kill germs and prevent cross-contamination.
● Very high temperatures and harsh chemicals are unnecessary and could damage your nappies.
● To find out more about how to wash reusable nappies, check out our help page.

Find out more:
Impact of wash cycle time, temperature and detergent formulation on the hygiene effectiveness of domestic laundering – Journal of Applied Microbiology


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