Friday, 21 October 2011

Is it safe to wash nappies at low temperatures?

There was a piece about the health risks that may arise from washing clothes and bedding at low temperatures in the Daily Mail. It received lots of comments and is very interesting so do take a look.

At RNfL we are keen to hear about your experience of washing nappies at less than 60c. Have you found the balance between washing with low environmental impacts and ensuring there is no risk of the spread of bugs?

Our understanding is that most bacteria and fungi are destroyed at 60c It is only necessary to wash at temperatures over 70c if baby has an infection or the nappies are used by more than one baby eg a nappy laundry service, nursery or hospital. We also understand that as long as a baby/toddler does not chew a nappy washing nappies at 40c is quite safe for healthy babies.

Over the last decade or so there has been an increasing awareness that to develop healthy immune systems we should expose our families to a certain level of micro-organisms and not live in a completely sterile environment. The rise of MRSA and other Superbugs, both in hospitals and in the community has taught us this.

But what is your experience? What works for you? Let's share scientific knowledge but also what you know from direct experience. Lets try to establish how to manage health and low impact living.


  1. Sophie Broadbent26 October 2011 at 20:28

    Interesting subject! I wash my nappies at 40 degrees in a cocktail of non-bio powder, antibacterial powder, tea tree oil and soap nuts and have no problems with my baby so far but here are some of my top tips:
    Hang nappy in sun or on a sunny windowsill to get rid of stains (they disappear in 30 mins)
    If you have sticky poo stuck in creases or elastic areas after washing - you may need to scrub off the bulk of the waste with a small brush (eg. Nail brush) before washing. (you can wear rubber gloves and do this in the bath)
    The more water that runs through the nappies while washing, the better, as it rinses all of the urine away. Rinse in the bath before washing, or put them on an extra rinse or soak cycle in your machine.

  2. I've washed at 60 mostly, but recently tried washing at 50- no problems. The cold pre wash is crucial we've found.

  3. I wash at 60 degrees with a little Napisan. I'm sure you can wash at 40 or 50 but I tend not to. I probably would if they were wee only nappies though!