Washing 101: Gel Detergents and Reusable Nappies

A good wash routine with properly dosed detergent is crucial to maintaining clean and hygienic reusable nappies. We'll discuss how popular gel detergents and gel-based detergent pods that are available all across Ireland at nearly every supermarket can affect your washable nappies.

What Type of Detergent Should I Use to Wash My Reusable Nappies?

As we've mentioned in our Bio vs Non-Bio article, a Bio detergent is preferred, but a Non-Bio may be used if absolutely necessary. Again, choosing a powdered version of detergent is best as you can accurately measure out the proper dosage of powder based on your water hardness, machine and load size, and amount of soiling. A gel-based pod cannot be dosed properly due to it's pre-measured packaging and is not ideal for use with cloth nappies. A gel detergent, if in a bottle, can be measured, but may cause issues with the fibres of your nappies.

What Happens to the Nappies and How Does it Affect the Absorbency If I Use a Gel Detergent?

Gel detergents are a common type of laundry detergent that comes in a gel or liquid form. They often contain polymers that help encapsulate dirt and stains, preventing them from re-depositing on fabrics. While these detergents are effective for regular clothing, they can have adverse effects on the performance and absorbency of reusable nappies.

I Used Fabric Softener When Washing My Nappies. What Can Happen?

  1. Coating of the fibres
    Gels can leave a residue on cloth nappies, which can coat the fibres and create a hydrophobic barrier. This barrier prevents the nappies from effectively absorbing liquid and reduces performance.

  2. Reduced absorbency
    The coating prevents the nappy from absorbing liquid efficiently, leading to leaks and discomfort for the baby.

  3. Odor retention
    The residue from gels can trap odours, making it challenging to remove the smell from the nappies, even after your deep cleaning wash routine.

  4. Decreased lifespan
    The buildup of residue can cause the nappies to deteriorate faster, leading to premature wear and tear, reducing their overall lifespan.

  5. Buildup and residue
    Continued use of gels can lead to a buildup of residue on the cloth nappies. This buildup can be difficult to remove and may require additional steps to restore the nappy's absorbency.

  6. Skin irritation
    Some babies may develop skin sensitivities or allergies to the chemicals found in fabric softeners. The prolonged contact between the coated nappies and the baby's skin may lead to irritation or rashes.

What is Recommended for Washing Reusable Nappies?

We always recommend steering clear from using any gel detergents. Look for the powder alternatives of the same brand and type of detergent in your local grocer and be sure to measure the correct dosage based on the box's instructions.