Why we updated our sanitisation method and removed ‘stripping’

We have modified our strip and sanitise methods over the years, this included creating the Front Loader method a few years ago. Over the last 18 months, we have reviewed our advice. We realised that what we were advising wasn’t effective for a lot of problems people were having, and it started to make sense as to why. We started looking at the basics of chemistry and microbiology, learning more about sanitisation, and chlorine bleach, reviewing everything and subsequently, we are changing our advice.

The level of chlorine bleach we were advising for Small Scale and Top Loader it was enough for applications that needed small concentrations of bleach. However, this level was not effective for all applications. The Front Loader method did solve some problems, but not all. Now each application has the amount of chlorine that will solve that problem.

Fundamentally ‘stripping’ is either just washing or soaking, it is a weak oxidation process, which depending on the method you use, removes some soiling, but we realised you don’t need it because chlorine bleach is a far superior oxidiser and as a result more effective.

Chlorine bleach both sanitises and removes stains. The concentration of chlorine bleach is the key factor in removing minor stains, and major stains, oxidising ammonia or sanitising against certain pathogens.

Why can’t I see this information? It says I have to become a subscriber, what does that mean?

We have started a website subscription service. Until now, October 2020, the Clean Cloth Nappies Facebook group and website have been provided free of charge by our dedicated volunteers. However, to stay viable we need income to cover costs. This includes website updates and behind-the-scenes work that keeps the group running (like this new sanitisation advice).

For full instructions for the sanitise pages please subscribe to become a Clean Cloth Nappies website subscriber. Please don’t share or screenshot this information. Doing so is unfair to the people who support us and have paid for a website subscription, it breaches our website terms of service, as well as the subscription terms and conditions and our Facebook group rules.

Why do I need to sanitise?

Life happens, and it might not be possible to wash your nappies well oofr. They get stinky, get stains, and mould spots or your child develops a nappy rash, redness or gets sick. Maybe you’ve purchased them second-hand, or you’ve used a less-than-great detergent. Sanitisation oxidises (removes) ammonia and kills off any problematic microbes.

How can I sanitise?

The two most effective, economical and readily available options for sanitisation are chlorine bleach or 90/95°C sanitise cycle, these are the only two which will oxidise ammonia.

We have created a chlorine bleach table that calculates the quantity of chlorine bleach you need to sanitise for a variety of applications and problems. Most Front Loader washing machines have a 90/95°C sanitise cycle, and you can use chlorine bleach in a bucket, Front Loader or Top Loader washing machine.

PUL and items with elastics cannot be washed in a 90/95°C sanitise cycle as they can delaminate or become damaged. We recommend using the specific option PUL and AIO options listed on the chlorine bleach table for these items.

See the sanitise website page for complete instructions and the chlorine bleach table which provides you with the result which has been calculated for you.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

How do I use the chlorine bleach table?
  • Choose what you need to sanitise for.
  • Select the % concentration of your chlorine bleach (sodium hypochlorite).
  • Choose your preferred sanitise method (either in a bucket or your washing machine)

The result is the amount of chlorine bleach (mLs) you need, it has been calculated for you!

What applications or problems are included in the chlorine bleach table?

There are 23 (now 26!) different options to choose from including ammonia (mild, moderate, extreme), cold water washes, mould (minor and significant), single cycle washes, second-hand nappies, minor stains, major stains, bacterial infections (Staphylococcus, Impetigo, Salmonella, Listeria), fungal infections and more!

How do I get rid of persistent stains that don’t come out in the wash

Choose the Stains option, either mild, moderate or extreme.

I still have stains after sanitising, what do I do?

You can use the next level for the stains option. For example, if you initially treated for mild stains, try the moderate stain option for the next treatment.

If stains remain after the moderate and extreme options, then the staining you have is probably not oxidisable (oxidisable stains include food, poo, blueberries, wine) and can’t be removed by chlorine bleach.

Why do I need to use so much bleach for certain applications/problems?

Different problems and applications require different concentrations of bleach. More chlorine bleach is required to kill a significant amount of mould than a small amount of mould. More chlorine bleach is required to oxidise a signification amount of ammonia than a small amount of ammonia.

Could I use less bleach or sanitise twice?

Yes, if you wish to sanitise twice at a lower concentration or less, you can. The levels of chlorine bleach are based on research and studies on what is effective for those applications and pathogens. However, for certain problems such as significant black mould, you will need to use the amount listed for it to be effective.

Will there be any bleach left over on the fabrics after sanitising?

We recommend a post sanitise wash to remove any remaining bleach.

How do I get rid of the smell of bleach after?

Wash the items as suggested, and air dry them outside for 24 hours. The smell of chlorine will dissipate and disappear.

Will sanitising damage/fade the fabrics?

If you have non-colourfast items or coloured bamboo/cotton, use the option for non-colourfast fabrics. Using a higher concentration than what is listed under this option may result in those fabrics fading. If in doubt, use the non-colourfast option.

If I used the old instructions yesterday, will something bad happen to my nappies?

No. If it solved your problem that’s great. However, the updated methods are far better (and easier)!

What is more effective: soaking or in-wash sanitising?

Soaking and in-wash sanitising are both effective, as they have the same chlorine bleach concentration. Chose the sanitisation method that is easiest for you.

For stain and soiling removal, washing is more effective because of the agitation. This is similar to how washing dishes is more effective than simply soaking them.

If we no longer need to strip, should I at least wash items before the sanitise?

Yes, definitely. The instructions list starting with clean nappies. If you are sanitising your own nappies, wash them first (prewash is fine). If you are sanitising second-hand nappies and they are not visibly physically soiled, there is no need to wash them first.