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 in the future, we need to income to cover costs, which include 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 Member. 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 membership 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.

Flooded textiles: what to do with nappies and clothes that have become wet with water from floods

Clothing and nappies that have become wet from floodwater can cause a huge backlog of sodden laundry.

However, long warm to hot washes with quality detergent and oxygen bleach is enough to make laundry safe from viruses, and from all but the most stubborn bacteria.

How to wash nappies and clothes after exposure to flood water

Remove excess soiling

The first step is to get rid of excess mud and filth. Hosing off muddy piles of laundry might be your best bet.


All heavily soiled laundry can do with a prewash. Use a short wash cycle with half the recommended amount of detergent.

Main wash

Use a long wash (the longest your machine does) and use plenty of detergent, up to twice the amount you might normally use if the items are very dirty. Use the hottest water temperature you think the laundry will take.

Full loads (front loader) and half to 2/3 full loads (top loader) will wash best.

If there are no suds 30 min into the wash, add more detergent.


Open the door of the washer. If it smells clean, dry it. This may be straight into the dryer if there is nowhere to dry laundry outside.

If the load smells dirty, it’s not clean and needs to be rewashed.

Treating mouldy nappies and clothing

Mouldy clothing, nappies, prams can all be saved. Heat or bleach is required to sanitise, and you may need additional stain treatment.

Clean Cloth Nappies has set up a website membership option that provides chlorine bleach advice for mould removal only.

For prams, you might be able to use a hot water spray (for example a Bissell spot cleaner) to do the heat sanitising. If you need to submerge the pram for a small scale sanitise, a wheelie bin is a great idea.


Items that have rust stains can be fixed using citric acid plus salt, although this isn’t a priority.

What about vinegar?

Vinegar has only a very limited place in the laundry. Bleach is almost always better. We suggest you don’t bother using vinegar in your laundry.

Other tips

If you have clothing full of floodwater but no access to clean water, try and let the laundry dry out as much as you can, and then deal with it later.

Don’t mix flood soiled clothes and uncontaminated clothes. Sort, process and shake contaminated clothes in an area away from uncontaminated clothes. This includes mixing laundry baskets (wipe these down between batches eg with soapy water).

No time for prewashes? Consider bleach in the load. There’s an option for this in the Sanitise instructions.

Not at home and wondering how you’ll manage the laundry? See our Holiday Cloth Use Guide.

If items are dry clean only or are sentimental items, take them to a professional dry cleaner for advice.

Sunshine is great for drying clothes; however, sunlight does not sanitise.

Additional resources

Members of our Clean Cloth Nappies Facebook group have access to in-depth posts about:

New Sanitise format!

We understand how sometimes it’s a bit difficult to work out which option to choose, so we have changed things up a bit. We’d like to introduce the new format which consolidates our Sanitise method into two pages: Chlorine Bleach Sanitise and Heat Sanitise.

What’s new?

The pages for Small Scale, Front Loader and Top Loader methods have been combined into two new pages.

The new Chlorine Bleach Sanitise page combines the Front Loader, Top Loader and Small Scale pages, consolidating the sanitise calculators.

The new Heat Sanitise page outlines what can and can’t be washed using 90/95⁰C cycle.

There are quick reference tables for suitability by fabric and for suitability by application, where you can cross check options. We have also included information about fabrics.

We hope these changes make it easier for you to find suitable options, making the information more streamline and user friendly 🙂

For full instructions for the Sanitise pages please subscribe to become a Clean Cloth Nappies Member, AUD$15/per quarter or AUD$30/year.

Holiday Cloth Use Guide

  • You won’t ruin your nappies if they are not washed perfectly!
  • If you are camping, opt for flats and covers which can be hand washed and will dry easily.
  • If possible, do a daily pre wash cycle in hot (60°C) water. If you can’t, Sanitise your nappies after, that will remove any smells and stains.
  • If you are using someone else’s machine and are worried about washing nappies in it, remove as much poo as possible prior and either use chlorine bleach in the main wash to Sanitise it, using the appropriate option listed on the sanitise tables or clean the machine after.

Using a different machine and wash cycles

If you need to use a different machine, see the Machine Index for pre wash and main wash cycles suggestions. The Wash Routine BasicsFront LoaderTop LoaderHE Top Loader pages outline wash routine advice and provide videos of loading.

Check the suds level, see the Front Loader Routine page for more information on what is too much or not enough.Increasing temperature and/or time of your pre and main wash cycles, read the Hot vs Cold Water page for more information on why heat is important when washing your nappies and laundry in general.


Use whatever is convenient, a wetbag or bucket is fine.

Only cold water is available

That is ok, either bucket in hot water (see the Top Loader Units), or you can add chlorine bleach to each cycle, see the Sanitise pages for quantities.

Different Detergent

If you don’t have access to your usual detergent, or need to use a different brand, there are lots of options listed on the Detergent Index with quantities for pre and main wash.

If you need to use a detergent which isn’t listed on the Detergent Index, wash in hot (60°C) and use enough to creates adequate suds. Check the suds level one third of the way through the cycle and add more if necessary.

Don’t DIY, it doesn’t work unless you’re happy to scrub flats on a washboard.

Smells or stains

To get rid of stains and smells see the Sanitise pages for methods and advice.

Smells indicate your items are not getting washed well, check out the Why do my nappies smell? for more advice on what to do.

If you are getting stains, check the Why am I getting stains page for more information.

Enjoy your holiday break 🙂

2020 Christmas and New Year Holidays update

The Clean Cloth Nappies Admin team will be taking a break over the Christmas and New Year holidays, this means posts won’t be approved between 24th of December 2020, through to 4th of January 2021.

If you need assistance during this time please check out our website and have a look through the Facebook group Units or Topics, or search (however old and outdated information comes up in group search, so your best option is to look at the website first, then the Units). Please be aware that we don’t troubleshoot wash or cloth use advice over private message to admin or via email.

If you would like to set up a Website Subscription please do so in the next week because any account issues will take longer to be actioned over this time period.

We will be doing a wrap up post on the 23rd of December with a summary of the highlights of the year.

We hope you have a safe and Merry Christmas and enjoy the holidays!

~ The Clean Cloth Nappies Admin Team

What cycle should I use for my pre wash, main wash and general laundry?

One of the most common questions we get asked is What cycle should I use for my pre wash, main wash and general laundry?

Introducing the Clean Cloth Nappies washing machine index

We are always trying to improve our resources so we have developed a Washing Machine Index to help answer this question. It works in the same way our Detergent Index does, use the search option to find your washing machine, or scroll through.

The Index includes the brand, whether it is a front or top loader, preferred cycles for pre wash and main wash, and any tips on things to avoid. We also have photos of the machine panels for some machines.

This has been added to our website subscription, so if you are thinking about joining, this adds even more value to the subscription. For information on how to become a website subscriber see the Become a Website Member page.

This is a new resource so we would really like your feedback to improve it. High-resolution photos of machines that don’t already have a photo are especially welcome!

We hope you love it!

The new and improved Clean Cloth Nappies Sanitisation method is here!

We are really excited to announce our new Sanitisation information, it is 18months in the making!

What has changed?

We no longer recommend ‘stripping’ cloth nappies. Our updated recommendation is bleach sanitisation followed by a wash to remove any remaining chlorine. There is now a range of chlorine bleach quantities to ensure they are effective for each individual application and problem, which has resulted in the advice and quantities being very different to what it was before.

Why is this new method better?

We made the Sanitisation methods more effective, easier and less resource intensive.
Each application has a chlorine bleach amount which is effective specifically for that problem. Previously the quantities were generic and sometimes ineffective for the wide variety of issues people faced, eg. you need a different concentration of chlorine to oxidise ammonia than to eliminate moulds.

Now you can select options from three drop-down menus that best describe your situation and the amount of chlorine bleach you need to use will be automatically calculated for you. It is as simple as that!

• choose the problem/application
• choose the chlorine bleach you have (% of sodium hypochlorite is listed on the label)
• choose a method to use- a bucket, a Top Loader or a Front Loader washing machine

Use the glossary and description guide to see what option to choose, it contains some photos to compare to and as time goes on we will add more.

If you haven’t become a website subscriber yet, now is the time to do it because this information is a game changer and is going to make your life so much easier!