What is Build-Up?

Over time you might notice some of the following issues with your nappies:

  • Nappy inserts seem dull and stiff despite usual cleaning
  • There is a noticeable detergent smell
  • The nappy smells strongly of wee as soon as baby wets it
  • Increased and continuous nappy rash
  • More frequent changes needed to avoid leaks

If you have any combination of the above, then you might have build-up and will need to take corrective steps.

Build-up happens over time with the frequent use and washing of your cloth nappies. It can often be traced back the to detergent overdosing and insufficient rinsing. These can be slight differences that are not noticeable immediately but slow accumulate until the build-up in the nappies and washing machine becomes obvious.

We are all fully aware that there should be no ammonia smell on clean cloth nappies, but it is also important to note the smell of detergent. Often used as an indictor that clothing and nappies are clean, a strong odour of detergent could mean that it has not been thoroughly rinsed. Your cloth nappies should simply CLEAN! Even if your chosen brand has a strong fragrance, you should still not be able to smell the detergent.

There are 2 very easy tests for build-up:

  • The Swoosh Test: Fill a glass bowl with warm water and submerge a clean, dry nappy. Once the nappy is completely soaked swoosh it around the bowl and give it a couple squeezes. If you start to see a white film, bubbles or the water becomes grey you have build-up.
  • The Extra Rinse Test: This test is useful if you have noticed build-up indicators but are too close to wash day to sacrifice a clean nappy to the Swoosh Test. Load you dirty nappies and run your machine on your regular nappy cycle with your normal dose of detergent. When the cycle is done restart your machine and run a Rinse & Spin cycle only. Once the machine has agitated a few times pause and check for the film, bubbles, and grey water. If any of these occur, then you have a build-up issue.

If you have identified that you have a build-up issue, follow these 3 steps:

  1. Clean your washing machine: if you have regularly been using too much detergent with your nappies or even your household laundry there could be residue in your machine that is being redeposited into your nappies. Consult you User/Manufacturer’s Guide on how to clean and maintain your machine.
  2. Rinse your nappies: Now that your machine has been properly cleaned it is time to rinse out the nappy build up. The quickest way to do this is to run your clean nappies through the Rinse & Spin cycle until the wastewater is clear.
  3. Tweak your routine: Re-evaluate how much detergent and which wash cycle you are using to prevent a repeat of the issue. Use the recommended dose for heavily soiled laundry and your load size. Make sure you are using the longest cycle to ensure thorough rinsing.