Concentrations of urine, which release ammonia and cause nappy rash, can be a problem with disposable and cloth nappies, if they’re not changed often enough. And just as plastic pants worn over cloth nappies can make nappy rash worse by preventing the nappy from ‘breathing’, this can be a problem with some disposables too. But with cloth nappies, nappy rash may also be triggered by traces of ammonia or detergent left behind if the nappy isn’t properly washed and rinsed.
Any harmful germs should be eliminated if your washing machine’s cycle uses water at a temperature of 65 °C or hotter and the nappies are hung in the sun to dry (ultraviolet light from the sun has some sterilising effect and bleaches the nappy as well). But if you use a dryer and your washing machine’s cycle doesn’t use water hot enough to kill the common bacteria in faeces and urine, the chances of your child developing nappy rash are greater. To help ensure this doesn’t happen, you can use a nappy treatment.
The Australian standard for nappy sanitisers (AS 2351) requires that when used under conditions of normal use and according to manufacturers’ instructions, products should control the number of micro-organisms at a hygienic level. As well, it sets out detailed product labelling requirements including details about the recommended concentration, the number of nappies that can be treated in any one mix of solution, the minimum effective soaking time and how long the solution will remain effective, together with instructions to rinse off poo before soaking nappies.