New mums today have the choice of whether to use cloth or disposable nappies, but it was a different story back in the day.
Disposable nappies were invented in the '40s, but it would be well into the '60s before they really began to catch on, so if you remember the days of terry-towelling nappies, how did you wash yours?
The Nappy Bucket
Washing machines were only just beginning to appear in Britain in the mid-1950s so not many homes had one.
This meant nappies had to be washed by hand, but the first part of the process was generally a soak in the nappy bucket, which may well have been a metal bucket or an enamel bowl before Mothercare came along in the '60s, bringing with it the idea of a dedicated plastic nappy bucket with a lid and fancy motifs.
Solid waste was scraped into the toilet before the nappy was placed in the bucket, and anything you missed would make itself known sooner or later as it floated to the top of the water in the bucket!
For some, it was an added laundry expense that couldn't be justified, but for others, keeping those nappies as white as white could be was something to take great pride in, and Napisan stain remover was one way to go about it and a washing line full of gleaming white terry squares is an enduring image of yesteryear that many look back on fondly.
Now, did you or did you not add Napisan to the water in the nappy bucket?
The Boiling Pan
But, before the nappies could make it to the washing line, they needed to be boil washed. Most homes had a large saucepan for this job and the soaked nappies would be transferred from the bucket into the pan to be boiled on the hob for several minutes with whatever soap powder or detergent was favoured.
Persil was one of the top brands in the '60s and one of their marketing ploys was to sell Persil-branded laundry tongs made of brightly coloured plastic what brand was your favourite?
An alternative to boiling nappies in a pan was to invest in a Baby Burco boiler. Having one of these meant no more heavy pans to deal with as the water could be drained out through the tap, and it could also be used for rinsing the nappies after the boil wash. Whatever method was used, rinsing the nappies was the next important step in the laundry process.
The Extra RinseThe boil wash killed the germs, but to keep the nappies soft, they had to be thoroughly rinsed to remove all traces of detergent. A good rinse was essential, but those who liked to have the whitest, fluffiest nappies on the street always devoted time to at least one extra rinse.
The Twin Tub
Not many households could afford a twin tub in the '60s, but the hard work of looking after nappies wasn't over even for those who could.
If you had one, you'll remember the process of filling up one side by attaching a hose to the tap and then making sure you didn't go too far away because the water would need to be turned off before it overflowed.
Sometimes nappies were left to soak in there in hot water for a while, but after they'd gone through the wash cycle, they had to be lifted out and transferred to the other tub to be spun.
Water was drained back out through another hose into the sink, and then the tub had to be filled again with clean water for rinsing, before being transferred to the other tub once again to be spun, this cycle was often repeated more than once to get the extra rinse benefits.
The Washing Line
Whether rinsed and rung out by hand or spun in a twin tub, the next stop for the nappies was the washing line.
This was generally a long rope or plastic cord strung between two trees or other fixed objects at a height that could be reached for pegging out items, and then it would be raised by a long wooden pole so that the washing would catch more wind.
Of course, doing it properly meant hanging out each nappy with precision.The pride taken in displaying whiter than white nappies was extended to presenting them in a neat fashion not only would carefully pegged nappies dry faster, sloppy pegging out was a direct reflection of your character!
The On-Going Chore
The nappy washing process was on-going and it's fair to say it dominated the lives of many mums before the advent of automatic washing machines or a switch to disposable nappies.
The fond memories of seeing nappies flapping in the breeze on the washing line and the sense of pride experienced in having the whitest nappies on the street may be real, but it was hard work, and the passing of time has perhaps dulled the memories of the rainy days in which nappies couldn't dry on the line or the frosty days when nappies froze into solid blocks!
Jennifer Worth, the author of Call the Midwife, was a midwife in London's East End in the 1950s. She recalls having to fight her way through a forest of flapping linen in the backyards of Bethnal Green, and then once in the house or flat there would be more washing to duck and weave through, in the hall, the stairways, the kitchen, the living room and the bedroom.
Life was certainly simpler back then, but not necessarily any easier.
There was no central heating, so getting nappies dried during the winter meant living with nappies at every stage of the laundry process around the house, so are we looking back with rose-tinted glasses?
Nappy rash was not uncommon, but then children tended to be potty trained within a year; nappy buckets could be smelly, but then the smell of freshly laundered nappies off the washing line is a happy memory that never leaves you so if you were to do it all again and you had the choices mums have today, would you do it the same way?
Mrs Valerie Hunter Gordon from Scotland invented the first disposable nappies in 1947 after the birth of her third child and becoming fed-up with continually washing nappies.
In an interview with the BBC in 2015 at the age of 93, she explained that she began looking for a disposable alternative and was amazed to find that there wasn't one so she decided to invent one herself.
Everybody who saw them said, Valerie, please would you make one for me? And so I ended up by making about over 600 of them. Everybody wanted to stop washing nappies. Nowadays they seem to want to wash them again - good luck to them!
Valerie's design was given the name Paddi, and in the late 40s and into the '50s, Paddis was advertised as
'A really attractive garment, skilfully designed by a Mother, to make the whole-time use of disposable nappies a practical possibility.'
They disappeared from the market in the 1960s when Pampers arrived from America.
How the world has changed, but in terms of bringing up baby, which way is best; the way it was back in the day, or the way it is today?
Let us know in the comments section below, we'd love to hear your memories!