When you use real nappies you tend to become very sensitive to the smell of washing. There are a few rules about washing nappies – eg never use fabric softener, it stops them absorbing – but to a large extent you need to work out what works best with your washing machine, unless you handwash. You want the nappies to smell clean without smelling of detergent.

Once you become sensitive to the smell of conventional detergents and find out about the ingredients – basically waste from the petrochemical industry disguised by perfumes, you begin to understand the links between detergents and the rise of childhood asthma, eczema and glue ear.

You also start to question the use of air fresheners (please don’t use the plug-in ones if you have a baby in the home), mainstream household cleaners and beauty products. Pat Thomas, health editor for the Ecologist has written extensively on this subject and she doesn’t just say what you shouldn’t use, she offers advice on practical, healthy, effective alternatives. Micro-fibre cloths are entering the mainstream and mean you can just clean the home with water. And if you can get a nappy clean you can get a micro-fibre cloth clean and vice versa.

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