Welcome to our most recent live-chat write-up, this time with Jo Schanschieff, head of product development for Bambino Mio. It was great having her with us and being able to find out more about the history of the company, as well as learning about some of the recommendations they give out for both their nappies and Miofresh detergent. All being well we might be able to also chat to their detergent specialist, to get some more specific answers on detergent composition and action, so keep an eye on this blog to learn more!
Q: So what made you set up your own nappy company?
Jo: My husband and I worked in management for Marks and Spencer, until we decided to set up our own business. When we saw real nappies being used in New Zealand, we thought it was a great idea, so we started nearly 20 years ago in a back bedroom in Northampton. When our first child was born we began to understand the importance of one’s environmental impact and wanted to provide a stylish alternative to disposable nappies which would help the environment, our babies and save parents some money too!
Q: Was it hard setting up a reusable nappy company? For example, were banks suspicious of lending money for a ‘weird’ business, if you know what I mean?
Jo: Yes, banks were very suspicious and it was very difficult to get support. Customers were also suspicious and we spent a long time justifying using our product.
Q: I have a burning question! How many sizes of prefold (Miosoft inners) do you make and what dimensions are they? I love them.
Jo: We recently relaunched our miosoft two-piece nappy to simplify things. It was previously two sizes of prefold nappy (size 1 and size 2) but now it is one size which fits into two sizes of nappy covers. The dimensions of an unwashed onesize Miosoft nappy is 54cm x 36cm. Once washed, it will shrink down substantially and fluff up! We think the Miosoft two-piece nappy is a bit of an unsung hero. It is really easy to use, really absorbent and really hard-wearing. But to a person new to reusables, it can look a bit complicated in comparison to an all-in-one.
Thank you @Jo. They are lovely and I think people are missing a trick if they haven’t discovered or have forgotten just how good cotton is.
Q: Why should we use Miofresh instead of normal washing powder? Also, it says it’s anti bacterial, what’s in it to make it so and is that really necessary?
Jo: Miofresh is a cleanser which can be used in addition to your normal washing powder. It contains antibacterial agents which are activated in the wash and will kill bacteria at lower temperatures, even as low as 15degC. In my opinion, it is essential to use something like this to ensure perfectly clean nappies.
Q: On the subject of Miofresh, the libraries wash at 60degC between loans to ensure as many germs are killed as possible. Many of us use Miofresh as well, as an extra bonus, but a) is it less effective at 60degC than at lower temperatures? And b) will regular use cause resistance?
Jo: It is just as effective at 60degC than it is at 30degC. Regarding the resistance question, this is something we’ve never been asked before. I’ll look into it and get back to you.
Q: I’d love to know what antimicrobial ingredients are in Miofresh. We couldn’t work it out from the label.
Jo: It’s the Peracetic acid which is the active ingredient. Our detergent expert would be happy to come along and do a separate chat about this in more detail.
@Jo, that would be great, thank you!
Q: I’m wondering what types of bugs it kills. Does it kill bacteria? Viruses? Candida albicans?
Jo: Thrush is a fungal infection and not bacterial and miofresh will definitely have an impact on it but let’s get our expert on this in a separate Q&A session.
Q: The 2 sizes of cover/wrap is fine but you need the NB ones back too! Size 1 are way too big!
Jo: I understand what you’re saying and take your comments on board but we really needed to simplify the system and reduce down the number of covers that customers needed to buy. We were finding that the NB size was only being used between 4-6 weeks before the baby grew out of that size.
Q: I have a question about cotton. Am I correct in thinking that many manufacturers switched away from cotton because of the huge amount of water it takes to grow it and the issues with deforestation and farm management? Cotton is amazing stuff and one of the best nappy materials, but we rarely see cotton inserts and boosters any more, and lots are using microfibre as it is fast drying, but I highly doubt it is more eco-friendly than cotton.
Jo : Viscose Bamboo requires as much water as cotton production. I think the general trend has been to move to more synthetic fibres as they stay softer and absorb more gram for gram.
Q: How about hemp? Do you know how that compares? I’ve been led to believe that hemp is the most eco-friendly material.
Jo: We’ve trailed nappies in hemp, blended and pure and the problem has always been is that it is very hard when it’s wet.
Q: I am a big Bambino Mio fan and use both the Miosoft and Miosolo nappies. However, I am having problems with the Miosoft covers at the moment as the hooks are coming off the fastening tabs. Do you know why this would happen?
Jo: This happens rarely but I can assure you that our customer services team will be on the case.
Q: I’m part of our strip washing investigatory group. Do you ever recommend strip washing? If so how?
Jo: We do recommend strip washing nappies from time to time if needed. Over time there can be a build-up of detergent and ammonia in nappies so to eliminate odours and restore absorbency we recommend strip-washing. Soak nappies in a hand hot solution of Miofresh for at least 2 hours. (30mL of Miofresh for every 5 litres of water). After soaking, wash in the washing machine at 40degC and give your nappies an additional rinse afterwards.
Q: I would love to know if Bambino Mio have done any tests with regards to strip washing, especially since you make both microfibre and cotton nappies. Have you found whether one material needs it more than the other? Are there materials more susceptible to detergent build-up than others? If you have conducted tests, what were your methods, and what have you found?
Jo: This is something that really needs looking into and that is why your organisation is such a good idea. A while ago I suggested to Sophia that this idea needed some definitions and guidelines for the industry. For now, we can recommend based on experience and advice from our detergent expert.
Q: I noticed that your microfibre in the MioBoost boosters is actually biconstituent fibre and when I looked that up it said that it actually holds more than standard microfibre (although I realise that there are loads of different ways of arranging microfibre fibres obviously) and that it’s under patent pending? Is the MioSolo biconstituent fibre too? That would explain why it lasts longer than a standard pocket.
Jo: Yes our Miosolo is also made from this fibre.
Q: I have a question about your wrap reuse scheme. What do you do with the old wraps?
Jo: We work with selected charities and we send all old nappies and nappy covers to them. We are currently working with a child crisis and medical centre in Uganda who look after abandoned and orphaned babies.
Q: I’d like to ask if high temperature affects PUL and the elastic, what you have as temperature guidelines and why?
Jo: We recommend that if nappies are tumble dried, it should be on a low temperature. It is important that the dry cycle is completed so that the covers do not sit for some time in contact with the tumble dryer drum. Tumble drying nappies is always going to put wear on nappies than if they are line dried.
Q: What about washing temperature?
Jo: We recommend washing up to 60degC.
Q: Most people seem to think that washing higher than 60degC will kill your nappies, particularly PUL. But there are some people who are insistent that you should wash at 90degC instead of any other method of strip-washing. Personally, I am way to precious about my nappies to wash them at 90degC just to find out! But I wondered if you could say anything about whether you think PUL and elastics will withstand washing at 90degC?
Jo: There is a process called thermal disinfection washing which is what nappy laundry services and hospital laundries use. This sanitises the nappies using temperature and not detergents. However, normal domestic machines will not achieve this wash cycle so even a wash at 90degC will not definitely sanitise the wash. So there is no need to wash them at 90degC. We do not recommend washing Bambino Mio nappies at 90degC, as it will damage the elastic and polyurethane.
Q: Someone wrote on our NSG page a couple of days ago saying “In the last month 2 of my 18 month old Miosolos have needed to go in the bin. In both cases the PUL is cracked on the inside and black spots appeared on the outside. I’ve not recently changed my wash routine, powder or anything and I don’t tumble dry. Any idea what could have caused this so I can stop it happening to any more?”
Jo: Yes, I had a quick look at this and the black spots look like mould that has probably affected the PU coating. Leaving the nappies with any sort of moisture or in a moist atmosphere will cause this.
Q: So could mould somehow affect how the PUL is bonded to the fabric?
Jo: If the fabric has started to rot, the adhesion will be compromised.
Thank you so much for your time and answers Jo, it was great!