Cloth nappies vs Terry Towelling nappies

Cloth nappies have enjoyed a resurgence in popularity recently as they have evolved and become easier to prepare, use and wash, compared to the original terry towelling nappies. Check out our comparison below to see which is right for you. 

What are terry towelling nappies?

Terry towelling nappies, or terry towel nappies, consist of a piece of cotton "towel" fabric in the shape of a square, that is folded around a baby to create a nappy.

This nappy catches the baby's wee and poo and is washed in the washing machine before being dried and reused time and time again.

There are many different ways to fold a terry towelling nappy.

What are cloth nappies?

Cloth nappies, also known as modern cloth nappies or reusable nappies, do the same job as a terry towelling nappy but with some different features that make them easier to use.

They consist of multi-layered cloth nappy inserts that are snapped on and off the main cover, for ease of washing.

The main difference between this and a terry towel nappy is that no folding is required making them easier to use. 

How to use terry towelling nappies

Once folded, the terry towelling nappy is secured on the baby using either an old-school safety pin or a "snappi", which does the same job without the sharp needle.

A terry towelling nappy isn't actually water-proof, therefore a nappy cover is needed over the top to prevent the nappy leaking onto clothing and furniture.

Once soiled, the terry towelling nappy is traditionally put in a bucket to soak.

Once there are numerous soiled nappies in the bucket, they are washed in the washing machine and hung out to dry.

Why use terry towelling nappies?

Both terry towelling nappies and modern cloth nappies share many of the same benefits, these include:

  • Environmental - each child gets through around 6,000 nappies before they are toilet trained. Disposable nappies take up to 500 years to decompose in landfill. According to Raising Children Network, disposable nappies create hundreds of thousands of tonnes of landfill around the world every year. By using terry towel or cloth nappies instead of disposable nappies, you are living a more environmentally sustainable life and preventing huge amounts of waste from sitting in landfill.
  • Economical - buying single-use disposable nappies continually for years soon adds up to thousands of dollars. Using terry towel or cloth nappies provides great cost-savings, even when you factor in the small extra costs to wash and clean them.

What are the negatives of using terry towelling nappies?

The main complaint about terry towelling nappies is the difficulty involved with folding the nappies.

Not only can the many different folds be challenging to learn, but it's also time-consuming to do for every nappy change.

Especially considering that babies need their nappies changed up to 10 times a day in the newborn phase.

Furthermore, the traditional method of soaking them in a bucket is troublesome for a few reasons.

Leaving a full bucket around the house provides a drowning hazard for children, whilst also being laboursome to lift and drain.

What are the benefits of using cloth nappies compared to terry towelling?

Modern cloth nappies were created for parents who still want to enjoy the environmental and cost-saving benefits of terry towelling nappies, without the hassle mentioned above.

They are a more modern and convenient version that doesn't require any folding.

The absorbent part of a modern cloth nappy is a single multi-layered insert that is easily snapped into place in the nappy cover.

When modern cloth nappies are soiled, there's no need to soak them as they are instead placed into a dry pail basket. 

This eliminates the drowning risk and heavy lifting required to empty a water-laden bucket.

When there are multiple soiled nappies, they are then washed in the same way as terry towel nappies, allowing the washing machine to do all the heavy lifting for you. Learn more about how to wash cloth nappies correctly. 

In Summary

Terry towelling nappies remain an option for some parents, especially those on a tighter budget as the unit price is lower than modern cloth nappies.

However, from an ease-of-use and design perspective, there is little comparison and this is the main reason for the surge in the popularity of cloth nappies we see today. But remember, not all cloth nappies are made equal. Buy nice or buy it twice. Choose a premium reusable nappy made from quality materials with clever design features to make your cloth nappy journey a success.  

 Shop Modern Cloth Nappies Now


Meet the Author

Natalie Lassen

Black and white photo of Natalie with her daughter cuddling

Natalie, Founder of NappyLuxe, is an eco-conscious mother and entrepreneur who discovered the benefits of cloth nappies for her family and the environment. With a mission to create the ultimate cloth nappy, she spent years researching and testing various designs before launching NappyLuxe - a range of high-quality, easy-to-use, and ultra-absorbent cloth nappies. Natalie is passionate about sharing her experience and expertise, helping parents make informed decisions and embark on their own sustainable parenting journey.

December 22, 2022 — Natalie Lassen
Tags: Learn