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, 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 which 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 the chlorine bleach is the key factor between removing minor stains, 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 the Clean Cloth Nappies Facebook group and website have been provided free of charge by our dedicated volunteers. However, to stay viable we need to 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, it is unfair to the people who support us and have paid for a website subscription, it breaches the Terms of Service of the website, the subscription and group rules.

Why do I need to sanitise?

Sanitisation oxidises (removes) ammonia and kills off any problematic microbes. Ammonia and urine go hand in hand, you can’t avoid it occurring, but you can prevent it from causing problems by washing your nappies well. Sometimes, for one reason or another, it might not be possible to wash your nappies well. They get stinky, get stains, 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, for these reason you need to sanitise.

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 which 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 can’t be washed in a 90/95°C sanitise cycle because they can delaminate or become damaged, for this reason we recommend using the specific option listed on the chlorine bleach table for PUL and All in One (AIO) items.

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

How do I use the chlorine bleach table?

  • Choose what you need to sanitise for.
  • Choose the % concentration of your chlorine bleach (sodium hypochlorite).
  • Choose the method you want to sanitise in eg. a bucket or a washing machine, for a Front Loader choose the kg capacity of your 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), one 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 stains which are persistent and 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, so if you used mild, try moderate next. If you still have stains after the moderate and extreme options, then the staining you have is probably not oxidisable (oxidisable stains are food, poo, blueberries, wine etc) and can’t be removed by chlorine bleach.

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

Certain problems and applications require different concentrations of bleach. You need a lot more chlorine bleach to kill a significant amount of mould than you do a small amount of mould. Same way you need more chlorine bleach to oxidise a signification amount of ammonia than a small amount of ammonia.

Could I use less bleach or just sanitise twice?

If you wish to sanitise twice at a lower concentration or less, you can, but the levels which are provided are based on research and studies on what is effective for those applications and pathogens. 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?

Not if you wash the items after.

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

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

Will sanitising damage/fade the fabrics?

If you have non colour fast items or coloured bamboo/cotton etc, 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!

What is more effective, soaking or inwash sanitising?

With respect to sanitisation all are effective, they have the same chlorine bleach concentration for the application, it just depends on what is easier for you. However washing is more effective because of the agitation, it aids in the removal of soiling, much like washing dishes is more effective than just soaking them.

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

Yes definitely, this is listed in the method. Please follow the instructions in the method. The instructions list starting with clean nappies, this means if you are sanitising your own nappies, wash them first. If you are sanitising second hand nappies if they are not visibly physically soiled, then no need to wash them first.