The Ultimate FREE Guide to Using Modern Cloth Nappies in 2022
Cloth nappies have come a long way since the original terry towel and safety pin versions our parents and grandparents used.
Beautiful prints, slim fitting, ultra-absorbent, and minimal washing time that slots into even the busiest of modern parent schedules.
These factors have made cloth diapering the go-to option for parents looking at a more cost effective and environmentally friendly choice for their bubs.
However, whether you call it a “nappy” or “diaper”, it can sure feel like information overload due to the volume of options out there. How many nappies do I need? Which nappy style should I use, snap in or pocket nappy? What do I do with the poo? Which material is best for inserts? How much should I spend? What should my wash routine look like? How can I make sure there are no leaks? How can I make sure the nappy will last my baby all night? The list goes on.
It’s no surprise that all these questions can cause decision paralysis. Many parents therefore end up delaying the switch to cloth nappies or putting it in the too-hard basket altogether.
That’s where The Ultimate Guide to Cloth Nappies comes in. We provide clear answers to your questions, ensuring you avoid the common mistakes new cloth parents can make, provide advice on how you can maximise the lifetime of your nappy stash, and help make your switch to cloth a big success.
So, let’s get started, and get to the bottom of all your nappy related questions.
- Why use cloth nappies?
- What are cloth nappies made from?
- How many cloth nappies do I need?
- Why snaps over Velcro for cloth nappies?
- How to fit and put on a cloth nappy?
- How to reduce red marks from leg elastics
- How to use cloth nappies on the go
- Why and when do cloth nappies leak
- How much time does it take per week to do cloth nappies
- What are the types of cloth nappies, and what’s best?
- Which cloth nappy accessories do I need?
- How to ensure cloth nappies will last all night long
- What do I do with the poo?
- Where to put dirty cloth nappies – the dry pail
- How to prepare and wash cloth nappies for the first time
- How to wash modern cloth nappies (Crash course)
1. Why use cloth nappies?
Cloth nappies were used for hundreds, if not thousands of years before the disposable nappy started taking centre stage in the mid 1900’s. Now we’re seeing a backwards trend as more and more parents choose to revert to cloth nappies instead of disposables – but why?
There are a number of reasons why cloth nappies have surged in popularity over recent years – and here’s our top pick:
Financial – Save thousands of dollars compared to disposables
First up, by choosing a premium reusable modern cloth nappy, you can literally save thousands of dollars over the course of your baby’s nappy-wearing years.
This is just how much you’ll save if you use them on one child, add in another child, or two, and the savings can multiply close to a total of $10,000!
This is based on choosing a premium brand that’s high quality enough to last from child to child, as well as using reusable cloth wipes instead of disposable wipes.
The biggest savings are seen by parents who choose to use cloth nappies from birth (or close enough). But if you’re reading this thinking it’s too late, it’s never too late! Plenty of parents make the switch when they’re already on their second or third child, and beyond, as we detail the many other reasons to switch below.
Refer to our full disposables vs. cloth nappies cost comparison for a full breakdown.
Environmental - prevent tons of waste going to landfill
When disposable nappies first came about, like many convenience-based inventions from the 20th century, little thought was given to the impact that disposable nappies might have on our precious environment.
Regardless of whether you’re in it for the savings or not, by choosing cloth nappies, you’re preventing truckloads of single-use nappies from going to landfill.
And then there’s the decomposition rate to think about: every disposable nappy that was ever created, is still there in the ground, sat in landfill.
It’s estimated that it might take up to 500 years for a disposable nappy to decompose, due to the plastics and synthetics it’s made from.
Just like plastic straws and single use supermarket shopping bags, disposable nappies are harmful for our planet, and some countries are already making the move to ban them.
Fashion - your baby will look great in them
Back in the day, cloth nappies were the only way to contain a baby’s mess. They were big, bulky, and anything but pretty.
It’s no surprise that most of the western world jumped on the disposable nappy bandwagon after they were invented in the 1940’s.
These days, most modern cloth nappies have been carefully crafted with super absorbent fabrics, and water-resistant yet breathable outer covers.
This means that they’re almost as trim as disposables, don't require any complex folds, and a far cry from their ugly historical counterpart.
Nowadays, cloth nappy users are rapidly on the rise, with parents eager to show off the cute prints on their baby’s booty.
No clothes? No problem. Here in Australia you may have heard the term “Bogan Baby” used to refer to babies running around with nothing but a nappy on.
We can totally see why people would dub grubby looking disposable nappies on show as “bogan”.
However, replace this image with a beautiful cloth nappy and you’ve got nothing short of the most fashionable baby in town.
No nasty chemicals
Disposable nappies contain chemicals, designed to quickly wick away moisture, and are made with plastic.
There’s also a risk of the nappies breaking open and these chemicals actually coming into contact with your baby’s delicate skin.
Many parents naturally don’t feel comfortable with these nasty chemicals against their baby’s skin, and therefore opt for natural, more breathable options such as cloth nappies.
Disposables smell terrible
Disposable nappies tend to really smell. Cloth nappies don’t.
This is probably the hardest thing for newby cloth nappy users to get their heads around, we’ve all had it ingrained in our minds that all nappies smell really bad when in fact this only really applies to disposables!
Why is this?
There are a few factors, the main one being the difference in how disposable nappies are stored when dirty compared to cloth nappies.
Cloth nappies are stored in an airy/holey basket with lots of airflow, this helps prevent ammonia from building up (more on this later) and prevents the smell.
Disposables are usually stored in an airtight nappy bin, causing ammonia to multiply like crazy, hence the awful smell.
There's clearly a little more to this than just storage: we've tried leaving a dirty disposable nappy in an airy bin but this still tends to stink out the room, unlike with cloth nappies.
Perhaps the earlier mentioned chemicals that make up the disposable nappies contribute to this smell.
As for the poo, there's no denying this smells regardless of whether it's in a disposable or reusable nappy… But knock it straight into the toilet and voila – your dirty cloth nappy dry-pail baskets are officially a stink-free zone.
Help speed up toilet training
Most parents who use cloth nappies on their babies cite that their children toilet train at a younger age compared to those who use disposables.
This can also be demonstrated in stats that show how the average toilet training age has doubled since the invention of disposable nappies.
We don’t know exactly why this is, but it’s worth mentioning as less time in nappies = increased savings and less work all round.
Great for remote living with limited waste disposal
Some families produce a lot of household waste, or have limited waste collection because they live in remote outback Australia.
Often families in these situations find that adding in a few extra rubbish bags full of nappies per week is simply not an option.
Avoid the panic buyers
Back when COVID-19 was first kicking off and people around the world were fighting for the last pack of toilet roll, there was also a shortage of baby supplies, including disposable nappies.
While many parents were getting down to their last few disposable nappies and starting to panic, cloth nappy parents were safe in the knowledge that they wouldn’t be running out even if the shortages continued.
We may be at the tail end of the pandemic, however if COVID-19 has taught us something, it’s that supermarket fights over toilet supplies are indeed possible.
2. What are cloth nappies made of?
While the brand you choose can impact the materials used, modern cloth nappies are typically made from an outer cover, an insert which is the absorbent part, and sometimes a liner which simply adds comfort for your baby.
These 3 elements are usually made of the following materials:
- Outer cover – made of PUL (Polyurethane laminate) which is a polyester fabric with a water-resistant laminate coating. It’s sometimes referred to as heat-bonded TPU laminate, which effectively means the same thing. It’s the longstanding go to for modern cloth nappies, along with other baby products such as bibs and smocks. The reason it’s often used on bibs or smocks is because ones that aren’t made of this water-resistant material simply let anything wet go straight through onto baby’s clothing underneath. Think messy watermelon juices all over your baby’s clothing… It’s the same with nappies, this water-resistant PUL layer is what prevents the wetness of the wee seeping out onto your baby’s clothes, and onto your lap.
- Inserts – this part of the nappy actually absorbs the wee and poo your baby produces. It works hand in hand with the PUL outer cover, and neither works without the other. Common materials used for inserts include cotton, bamboo cotton, bamboo terry, hemp and microfibre. Each material has different properties and benefits. For example, hemp is ultra-absorbent but stiff and rough feeling. Microfibre absorbs quickly but doesn’t hold much liquid (isn’t that the whole point of a nappy?) and cannot sit directly against your baby’s skin.
- Liner – this is a stay-dry layer that keeps your baby feeling dry even after they’ve done a wee in their nappy, especially important for night times. NappyLuxe have a stay dry liner built into the inserts so unlike some other brands, this isn’t something you need to purchase separately. The most common types of materials used are microfleece (not to be confused with microfibre), athletic wicking jersey, suede-cloth, and bamboo fleece. Built in liners are different to optional disposable cloth nappy liners used to help make the clean up operation easier.
Before learning the pros and cons of each material, it’s understandable if you feel the obvious choice must surely be the most absorbent fabric?
If only it were that simple. There are in fact many other important factors to consider, summarised in the table below:
|Bamboo Cotton||Bamboo Terry||Hemp||Microfibre|
|Speed of absorption||Average||Average||Poor (prone to flooding)||Very Good|
|Hold (how much liquid does the material hold)||Good||Good||Very Good||Poor (prone to compression leaks as it doesn't hold liquid well)|
|Softness||Average||Good||Bad (Very rough/stiff)||Good (but must not sit directly against baby's skin)|
|Shrinkage (likelihood that it will shrink / distort after washing)||Average||Low||High||Low|
Let’s delve a little deeper into each of these materials:
Bamboo Cotton – as you’ll see in the table above, bamboo cotton is highly absorbent and super soft, and is a popular choice for modern cloth nappies. However, the main drawback is that It’s prone to shrinkage. It also feels wet against baby’s skin. Some choose to combat the wet feeling by sewing a stay-dry layer on top, however when the bamboo cotton shrinks gradually over time and the stay-dry layer doesn’t shrink, you’re left with an unattractive sagging top layer on your insert. Others choose to use a separate layer of stay dry material, these are called a liner and whilst this achieves the desired effect, it adds another component to assembling each nappy.
Bamboo Terry – the choice for NappyLuxe – this material is the best all-rounder to be used for inserts. It has a high absorbency, feels soft, doesn’t cost too much, and has low shrinkage. Due to this low shrinkage, we are able to top our bamboo terry NappyLuxe inserts with a super-soft stay dry layer of material to keep your baby feeling dry. This is called Microfleece. Not to be confused with microfiber, which cannot go against your baby’s skin as outlined below. Contrary to bamboo cotton, the shrinkage of bamboo terry is minimal and therefore this combination doesn’t result in a saggy unattractive top layer. Win win.
Hemp – the most absorbent type of material. Hemp inserts are actually a mixture of hemp and cotton, but it is commonly referred to as hemp. As mentioned previously, it may be the most absorbent, but it comes with many drawbacks. It’s slow to absorb and is therefore prone to baby’s “flooding” the nappy – the material simply cannot absorb the wee quick enough and with nowhere else to go, the wee leaks out of the nappy. Hemp feels wet against baby’s skin, it is also highly prone to shrinkage, it’s therefore unsuitable to top with a stay-dry layer due to the sagging effect we covered earlier. Finally, hemp feels extremely rough and stiff, which not only distorts the shape but also impacts the comfort of your baby.
Microfibre – sometimes microfibre is combined with bamboo but don’t be fooled, of all the insert materials this is by far the one with the most “cons” working hard against it. There really aren’t many positive things to say about microfibre but let’s start with the main one: it absorbs quickly. It doesn’t actually absorb much liquid though unfortunately, and what it does absorb is prone to compression leaks – picture a sponge when pressed pushing the liquid back out again – not what you want when your baby’s nappy is compressed against a car or pram buckle. Due to it not holding much liquid, you are faced with 2 choices as your baby grows and starts producing more urine: change the nappy more frequently than what's ideal, or use multiple layers, the latter resulting in that bulky looking booty that we try so hard to avoid. The “bulk” can also make it more difficult to get the fit right with the elastic sitting flush against baby’s skin. Microfibre feels quite soft and isn’t prone to shrinkage, however it can’t actually sit directly against your baby’s bum without causing nappy rash, this is why it is often used in pocket nappies. Many parents who purchase nappies with bamboo microfibre end up with leaks as their baby gets older and their wee output increases. Our final comment on microfibre: whilst it’s the cheapest type of insert material, you really do get what you pay for.
Cotton – not included in the table above but worth mentioning. This was largely used back in the day for cloth nappies as it did the job reasonably well. It is natural, breathable, somewhat absorbent and cheap. The downside? As we covered off earlier in this guide, old fashioned nappies were big and bulky. Whilst cotton absorbs okay, it doesn’t quite absorb enough liquid, which means in order to use this material successfully without leaks, you need a lot of it. Which bring us back to the bulky looking baby booty that we try to avoid in modern cloth nappies. Whilst 100% cotton is usually too bulky to use in isolation, it is sometimes combined with bamboo or hemp to provide more absorbency, as outlined above.
At NappyLuxe, we believe in choosing materials that provide you with optimal absorbency and therefore the least likelihood of leaks, balanced carefully with the need to provide optimal comfort to your baby.
NappyLuxe supplies premium bamboo terry inserts as they are a good allrounder for both absorbency and comfort. Shop bamboo cloth nappy inserts here.
3. How many cloth nappies do I need?
Wondering how many cloth nappies you’ll need for your baby? The answers can vary depending on how you intend to use them, and here’s why.
As a rough guide, you may need the follow amounts of nappies based on how you intend to use them:
Full-time use: 24+
Part-time use: 6-12
Full time use
To use cloth nappies full-time on your baby, you will need around 24 nappies.
You may be able to get away with fewer nappies if you have a very regular wash routine.
However, others may need more, so 24 is very much an average.
Reasons you may need more include:
- If your washing routine isn’t as regular
- If you line dry and don’t have a tumble dryer
- If your baby goes to day care
- You become a bit addicted to pretty nappy prints
Part time use
To use cloth nappies part-time, for example only during the day, you’ll need between 6 and 12 nappies.
It really depends on how frequently you want to wash your nappies.
Many people choose to start using cloth nappies part-time as it allows them to see how it all works without over-committing to the expense of a full nappy stash, before then moving to full time and at night when they feel comfortable.
Remember that every time you use one cloth nappy, you’re preventing a disposable nappy from going to landfill, so don’t underestimate the value of doing part-time or even just one or two per day if full time seems overwhelming at first.
NappyLuxe provides a discounted trial pack of two cloth nappies to enable you to dip your toe into cloth nappies.
Ready to start using cloth nappies part time or fulltime? Shop the Premium modern cloth nappies.
Still unsure of how many cloth nappies you should buy? Read our blog post for more info: How Many Cloth Nappies Do You Really Need?
4.Why snaps over Velcro for cloth nappies?
The main two ways reusable cloth nappies are fastened together is either with snaps or Velcro. Unsure which will work best for you and your family? Read on to find out the pros and cons of both to arm you with the facts to best inform your decision.
Velcro, technically known at “hook and loop” style fastening, has two strips of plastic: one has lots of tiny, fuzzy loops, and the other has lots of tiny plastic hooks.
These two strips bind together, similarly to the tabs on disposable nappies, to keep the nappy securely in place during use on your baby.
The main benefit of Velcro on cloth nappies is that it’s easy for anyone to operate, including small children (more on that in a moment) and grandparents.
But, the great bonding strength that comes with Velcro has a drawback, and it’s a big one. The tiny hooks are renowned for catching absolutely everything including dirt, lint, hair, fluff, you name it.
Add this to a wash load with your favourite French undies, and guess what, your undies will never quite look the same again.
The little loops, when caught on other items in the wash, can cause irreversible damage.
Even if you omit your favourite undies from the wash load, the Velcro can still get caught on the stitching of nappy inserts causing them to fray.
Some Velcro nappies come with handy tabs to prevent this, or you can buy Velcro protectors, but you best remember to ensure every Velcro strip is covered before every wash load – just one missed can cause a lot of damage.
If you’re planning to re-use your Velcro nappies on another child or re-sell after use, bear in mind that Velcro does have a finite lifespan, and therefore might not be the best option.
We’re all familiar with that distinctive loud ripping noise made when Velcro is undone, now picture that noise when you’re changing the nappy of a sleeping baby in the dead of night... The noise can certainly be a disturbance.
Finally, as your baby grows and discovers the use of their hands, it doesn’t take long for them to copy Mum and Dad, and realise they have the ability to take off their own nappy with ease.
Which brings us back to the ease of use point – now a big negative when your little one keeps removing their nappy and having accidents around the house.
Let’s take a look at plastic snaps, they are strong, durable and subtle in appearance.
The good news is that you don’t have to worry about snaps getting caught on and damaging any other fabrics.
They are less noisy compared to Velcro, and still straightforward to use.
The only real anecdotal negative about snap fastening, is that they can be tricky for someone elderly with arthritic fingers to use.
So if you have someone in your family fitting this description who will be using the nappies on a daily basis, you may find Velcro a better fit.
It’s worth noting, however, that most brands of Velcro nappy still use snaps for the rise snaps, (used to adjust the nappy size as your baby grows) so there’s really no dodging snaps completely unless you’re willing to buy sized nappies.
5. How to fit and put on a cloth nappy
Here’s how to fit cloth nappies and make yourself a pro user in next to no time!
Putting a cloth nappy on your baby is just as quick as putting on a disposable nappy. But it’s important to ensure you’ve got that fit technique down to perfection, as a bad fit can result in a leak.
You simply lift up baby’s bum to place the back of the nappy underneath baby, this should sit around 1-2cm above their bum crack so a little lower than where most disposables usually sit. See our handy fit guide below:
A few pointers to keep in mind:
Check the leg seal: The leg elastic should sit inside the crease of their groin, not on your baby’s thigh/leg. Run your finger around the leg elastic to tuck it in, this is also a good time to test that the elastic is sitting flush against your baby’s skin without any gaps. It also shouldn’t feel overly tight. NappyLuxe nappies have a double leg elastic for added leak prevention, only the inner elastic needs to be flush against baby's skin.
Check tummy fit: the fit of your cloth nappy should be looser around the tummy than a disposable nappy typically feels. You should be able to easily fit a few fingers down the front of the nappy. If your baby is at the age where they can sit up, when in a seated position they shouldn’t look uncomfortable at all, and they shouldn’t have an excessive muffin top!
Ensure rise snaps are done up adequately: it’s important for the inserts to sit as closely as possible to your baby’s skin. Remember the inserts are the absorbent part of the nappy, and the cover is simply water resistant. If the rise snaps are too loose, the inserts will be sagging down away from your baby’s skin, and it’s possible that urine can run straight towards the edges and leak out through the elastic before the insert has had a chance to absorb anything.
Red marks are normal: some slight red marks are perfectly normal, just like a bra or sock mark on your own skin. But if you’ve removed the nappy and 20 minutes later the marks haven’t mostly or completely faded, you know to do the next nappy up looser next time. A good time to check is during bath time or some nappy free playtime.
Push excess fabric in and upwards: unlike disposable nappies, excess fabric on reusable nappies needs to be pushed in and up. When you have some or all of the rise snaps done up for a smaller baby, there will be some excess fabric at the front and sides. If any part of the insert is poking out, ensure this is pushed in.
Baby boys – make sure their bits are pointing down: make use of the absorbent part of the nappy by pointing everything south!
6. How to reduce red marks from leg elastics
Red marks are a common concern among parents switching to cloth nappies for the first time, but rest assured that some red marks are considered perfectly normal and won't be causing your baby any distress.
Here's what you can do to reduce red marks from leg elastics:
- Give your baby a nice long bath - this will be a good indicator, normal red marks should have faded and almost disappeared after this time.
- Ask yourself if the nappy is being done up too tight? Remember that cloth nappies should sit looser than disposables. Refer to our fit guide above to check.
- Make sure you're changing the nappy every 2 - 3 hours, anymore than this can mean urine sits in the elastic and causes friction and redness against your baby's skin.
- Ensure you're using enough absorbency, if the inserts are soaking wet when you change the nappy, this is a sign you should add more absorbency.
Here's where to read more to understand what is and isn't normal when it comes to red marks, and more details on how to reduce them.
7. How to use cloth nappies on the go
Using cloth nappies on the go can seem daunting at first, however the preparation involved is really no different to using disposable nappies if you were heading out for a walk or to a picnic spot that didn’t have bins immediately accessible.
Getting out and about with cloth nappies is easy as 1,2…
- Rather than taking a number of plastic disposable nappy bags, simply pack one standard sized reusable wet bag.
- Rather than taking spare disposable nappies, you take spare reusable cloth nappies. Simples.
Cloth nappies contain the infamous poonami's far better than disposables so it’s arguably easier to get out whilst using cloth, without having to worry about fully changing your baby and wiping poo off their / your clothes.
Regardless of whether you’re a disposable or resuable nappy user, you’ll want to ensure you have a travel change mat packed to lay your baby on comfortably while you change them on the go.
And for wipes, some people opt to stick with using disposable wipes on the go, but you can easily pack some reusable cloth wipes too and chuck dirty ones into a wet bag along with the dirty nappies to bring home with you.
Washing reusable wipes slots easily into your routine of washing cloth nappies.
We recommend taking wipes dry in your nappy bag while out and about, and using your water bottle to pour a little water on them when you need to use them.
As a bonus, taking a wet bag with 2 compartments (such as our premium NappyLuxe wetbags) means you can use the other side for any rubbish from your picnic to dispose of if you can’t immediately find a bin.
When you arrive home, separate the covers from the inserts and follow your usual routine to pop the nappies (and wipes) into your dry pail.
One important pointer to remember: Reusable cloth nappies do take up a bit more space than disposable nappies do, so you might want to bear this in mind when choosing a nappy bag that’s going to fit everything.
8. Why and when do cloth nappies leak, and how to prevent it
You shouldn’t be getting any leaks with your reusable cloth nappies, not any more than a random one off like you might get with disposables. Cloth nappies need to be changed every 2 – 3 hours, if you’re getting frequent leaks before the 2 hour mark, then this signals that something’s not quite right. Here’s some common reasons for leaks and how to rectify them:
- Reason 1: new nappies haven’t been prepped. When they first arrive with you, the natural fibres of new inserts are lying flat, and they need to go through a few washes before they have built up to their full absorbency.
- Reason 2: incorrect absorbency. If you’re not using NappyLuxe nappies, the leak might be due to the type of material you’re using. If you are using NappyLuxe inserts, it might be time to add one of our boosters – each nappy comes with an insert and a booster insert. Each of the 2 NappyLuxe inserts are high quality and are made from 5 layers of bamboo terry with an additional stay-dry microfleece layer on top. A total of 12 layers when using both inserts combined.
- Reason 3: not changing frequently enough. The absorbent part of your NappyLuxe nappy – the insert(s) - needs to be changed every 2-3 hours during the day in order to keep your baby as comfortable and dry as possible. It’s worth noting here that disposable nappies are supposed to be changed the same frequency throughout the day – it’s a myth that they need to be changed less frequently.
- Reason 4: incorrect fit. Even if you’ve been using cloth nappies for ages, it’s worth checking you’re doing it right. View our fit guide to ensure you don’t get fit-related leaks.
- Reason 5: damaged nappies. NappyLuxe are premium and are made with a double layer of water-resistant PUL, they also come with a warranty to assure you that if you follow our washing instructions, your nappies will last the test of time. If you're using a cheap brand with only a single layer of PUL, it's possible there's hidden damage to the PUL. If your nappies have endured damage such as sun damage, being put in the wash over 60 degrees, into a hot dryer, or the nappy has snagged on something, this can cause the nappy to be damaged and therefore leak.
Reason 6: product build up preventing absorbency. Some products such as fabric softener, nappy cream and using too much detergent can actually stop your inserts from absorbing as much liquid as they should. You shouldn’t use fabric softener at all (although Biozet with added softener is an okay exception). You can still use nappy cream when you need to, but we don’t recommend over-using. And check your detergent instructions to make sure you aren’t using too much.
These are the most common reasons, if you’ve eliminated all the above and are still getting leaks with your NappyLuxe nappies then please contact us and we will assist you to troubleshoot.
9. How much time does it take per week to use cloth nappies
One of the biggest objections to using cloth nappies is often cited as the perceived extra time it would add to an already busy parent’s schedule.
There’s no pretending otherwise – unless you have a laundry service or a saint-like family member willing to do the washing for you, using cloth nappies does take more time than disposables.
But before putting it in the too-hard basket, it’s important to understand exactly how much time using cloth nappies might take you.
Let’s compare the time taken for each aspect of cloth nappying, vs using disposables, to give you an honest and well-rounded idea of what you can expect.
Firstly we’ll cover off a few basics, there are some aspects where there’s really no difference in time at all between cloth and disposable, such as:
- Changing the nappy itself.
- Placing the nappy in a sealed bin vs into a dry pail basket.
Extra time for cloth
This is based on using cloth nappies full-time, 24/7. If you haven’t already read our Wash Guide, here’s a breakdown of the time involved with each step:
- Pre-wash – with a daily pre-wash, it only takes a few moments to transfer the dirty nappies from your dry pail basket into your washing machine, add detergent and hit go. Once the cycle has finished, it takes another minute or so to transfer the nappies into your second dry-pail basket. So let’s call this 5 minutes per day.
- Main wash – with a main wash 3 times per week, you’ll load up all your pre-washed nappies each time and add in all your extra baby clothes and other small items that need washing, along with adding detergent and hitting go. It’s difficult to say how much “extra” time this takes as you’ll need to wash baby clothes and other household items either way. Let’s call this 10 minutes per wash.
- Hanging out to dry – Some choose to tumble dry inserts for speed however in the interest of being as environmentally friendly as possible, let’s base this on hanging nappies out to dry on the line. Let’s say 10 minutes to hang out each load of washing.
- Bringing in the washing and prepping nappies – We’ll say 5 minutes to bring the washing in and 10 minutes to prep the nappies each time.
TOTAL = Around 20 minutes per day.
If time is a big deciding factor for you, having a larger nappy stash means you can go down to just 2 washes per week and cut this time down.
Also, starting with part-time cloth nappies is a great way to cut this time down and still do your bit for the environment.
Extra time for disposables
Whilst it’s clear that you’re not washing disposable nappies so this is obviously going to be the quicker option, let’s not forget the extra time many parents find themselves needing to afford whilst using disposables:
- Those last-minute dashes to the shops because you’re about to run out of nappies, wipes, or plastic nappy bags.
- Taking out the rubbish – unless you want your house to smell like a sewerage, you’ll be taking out your disposable nappy bin daily or every other day to your outside bin.
- Those poonami’s you have to deal with, because disposable nappies don’t contain poo as well as cloth nappies. The repercussions of dealing with a poonami explosion can mean extra washing time for both yours and your baby’s clothes.
You now have a clearer understanding of the time sacrifice that both cloth and disposable nappies require.
One thing’s for sure – your baby will poo and wee, A LOT.
Remember that it doesn’t have to be a choice between one or the other, many eco-conscious parents successfully balance part-time cloth with disposables instead.
Dealing with human waste in an eco-friendly way as much as you can is a fantastic way to prevent truck-loads of your family’s waste sitting in landfill.
10. What are the types of cloth nappies, and what is the best?
There are so many different types of cloth nappies on the market these days, it’s no wonder many people feel like they’ve been hit with information overload and have no idea what’s best for their baby.
Here we compare the most common 2 types of cloth nappies: pocket vs snap in nappies, and explore why NappyLuxe has been designed the way it has.
Let’s start with definitions:
The water-resistant nappy cover has a built-in fabric pocket, this is where the absorbent inserts are stuffed inside.
Snap in (Snap & Go) nappies
A water-resistant cover with snaps to allow the absorbent inserts to be snapped into place. This is the type that we opted for when designing NappyLuxe nappies.
Why choose Snap & Go nappies?
Less time consuming: Your child on average will get through around 50 nappies per week, which means washing, drying and prepping all those nappies. If you stuff a single pocket nappy and compare the time it takes with snapping inserts onto a single snap in nappy, you may not notice too much of a time difference. But if you compare the time it takes to prep 50 nappies, you sure notice a big difference in time. Snap in nappies are faster to prep, which saves users time. We believe that the process should be as efficient as possible and pocket nappies just aren’t as quick to prepare.
Even better for the environment: With pocket nappies, the pocket is made of a pourous fabric and the entire nappy must be changed for each nappy change for hygiene reasons. Having a snap in, wipeable nappy cover means that during nappy changes, you can reuse the same cover and simply change out the inserts. This is only hygienic for wee nappies and not poo, but it’s a small change that starts to make a big difference to your wash loads. Less nappy washing means more space for you to wash all those baby clothes and other household items, and less likelihood of you needing to do a separate additional wash load for those items. It therefore is better for the environment and saves you time too.
Easier for any sized hands to operate: Pocket nappies can often pose difficulty for those with larger hands if their hands are unable to fit in the pocket. Men typically have larger hands than women do, so this is something to bear in mind if you plan to contribute equally to the cloth nappy workload. It's also possible to snag rings while stuffing pocket nappies, causing them damage. With Snap in nappies, anyone with any sized hands can prepare with ease.
Avoid wrist problems: ever heard of de quervain tenosynovitis? It's a common ailment effecting new mums, and any actions that put pressure on the wrists can contribute to it such as opening jars, gripping items, or twisting of the wrist. Even the action of gripping and pushing a pram can contribute to the condition, as well as gripping and stuffing inserts into a fiddly pocket opening. Whether you're prone to wrist problems or have never experienced them in your life before, Snap in nappies put less strain on your wrists.
These are the reasons NappyLuxe uses a Snap in style nappy, not only for your ease and convenience, but for environment reasons too.
Shop snap in modern cloth nappies.
11. Which cloth nappy accessories do I need?
Here's a quick list of the three essentials cloth nappy accessories.
NappyLuxe wet bags are made up of a water-resistant PUL, and 2 handy zipped compartments. Wet bags are commonly used in conjunction with modern cloth nappies to place dirty nappies in while out and about, instead of using single-use plastic bags. However, they are versatile and parents use them for anything ranging from storing toys, a change of clothes, to using as a main bag for all valuables.
Babies need their nappies changed all the time, and it can sometimes seem that they "time it" for those really inconvenient moments while you're out the house! Make sure you're always prepared with a water-resistant, soft and hygienic surface to unroll and change their nappy on, wherever you are. NappyLuxe travel change mats are true space savers and have been designed for parents who want to minimise how much space the mat takes up in their bag. Rolling up to be nearly the size of your fist means you still have plenty of room for wipes, nappies, bottles, and all your valuables.
Disposable wipes are costly, flimsy, and depending on what brand you choose, can sometimes contribute to nappy rash. Using reusable cloth wipes in conjunction with your modern cloth nappies brings you many benefits including: being better for the environment and for your wallet. Furthermore, as they are large and thick, you tend to get away with only using one wipe for a messy poo nappy change rather than half a dozen flimsy disposable wipes. NappyLuxe cloth wipes are made with 2 layers of silky soft bamboo terry velour.
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12. How to ensure cloth nappies will last all night long
For a cloth nappy to last all night long, you will need more absorbency than a standard day nappy provides, but this doesn’t have to mean buying separate night nappies.
With NappyLuxe, there’s no need to buy separate night nappies, because ours are already built to prevent leaks day and night.
You will, however, need additional inserts to boost your existing NappyLuxe nappies to provide enough absorbency to last the night.
The size and output of your baby will dictate how many inserts your night nappy needs, which is why the NappyLuxe bamboo mixed inserts pack allows you to build your own to adjust the absorbency and prevent leaks for even the heaviest wetter.
We recommend starting with more than you may feel your baby will need, and in the morning if you’re finding the inserts aren’t soaking wet, you know that the following night you can include less absorbency.
The ideal scenario is to find the “sweet spot” of using enough, but not too many, layers of absorbency.
The large and small inserts that come with each NappyLuxe nappy each provide 6 layers, and 1 trifold provides 10 layers.
So the large insert, small insert and trifold combined would provide a whopping 22 layers of absorbency - for many babies this is enough for night time.
If your baby feeds more overnight or is just a heavy wetter, try adding extra layers.
If your baby sleeps all night through without a feed (go you!) or is just generally a light wetter overnight, you will probably find you can remove some absorbency, the benefit of this is less bulk for your baby’s nappy.
You will find as your baby grows and goes through all their leaps and milestones, the amount of absorbency will vary from a little to a lot, and back to a little again!
Many parents report that their baby’s output peaks around the 6 – 12 month mark before it then drops down.
That’s why we recommend the Bamboo Mixed Inserts pack or the Trifold Insert pack to supplement your nappy stash and give you the flexibility you need.
Each insert has been cleverly designed with a single layer of stay-dry material for your baby’s comfort.
This sits against your baby’s bottom to ensure they aren’t waking up feeling wet.
Shop night time cloth nappy booster packs.
13. What to do with the poo?
If you’re new to cloth nappies you can be forgiven for asking the question – what do you actually do with the poo?
The short answer for most babies is that it goes exactly where adult poo goes, in the toilet, which is actually supposed to be the same for disposable nappy users too.
Here we get straight down to business to answer this important question for every step of your baby’s development:
|Under 4/6 months (have not started solids – exclusively breastfed)||Under 4/6 months (have not started solids – formula or mixed fed)||Over 4/6 months (have started solid food)|
|Poo nappies can go straight in the washing machine||Dispose of poo into the toilet before putting in the washing machine||Dispose of poo into the toilet before putting in the washing machine|
View our detailed cloth nappy washing guide to find out more details about how to deal with poo.
14. Where to put dirty cloth nappies - the dry pail
Here’s another difference between using disposable nappies vs cloth nappies, and it’s kind of a big one.
By correctly storing dirty cloth nappies in a dry pail basket, not a sealed “nappy bin”, they won’t smell.
It’s tricky to get your head around at first and sounds completely counter-intuitive when you’ve only ever known nappies to be one of the worst smells around, which is why we detail the “why” behind this in our washing guide.
In short: get yourself 2 airy baskets – wire baskets from Kmart will do the trick – and you now have the perfect dry pail setup!
The first dry pail basket replaces the sealed nappy bin – this is where to place dirty nappies as they come off the bum of your baby.
The second dry pail basket is where you can place nappies after they’ve been through their pre-wash / first wash, while they await the main wash.
If you’re using cloth nappies on the go, you can also use a breathable but water resistant reusable wet bag to store dirty nappies in until you can get home and transfer to your dry pail.
15. How to prepare and wash cloth nappies for the first time
Cloth nappy inserts need to be washed 3 - 5 times before their first use. The reason we do this is to fluff up the fabric fibres and make them more porous. This preps them ready to start absorbing.
To make things easy and reduce your environmental impact, we’re not suggesting you run numerous additional washing cycles – simply pop the nappy inserts in the wash with other light coloured items you’re already washing.
You don’t need to dry them in-between washes, instead you can place them in your dry pail basket to air out.
If you skip this part of washing your inserts several times before use, they will still work however you will find they won’t hold as much liquid and therefore you will need to change your baby’s nappy more frequently to avoid leaks, until they’ve been through the wash a handful of times.
The older the nappy insert gets, typically the more absorbent it becomes.
The outer cover only needs to be washed once before use.
16. How to wash modern cloth nappies (Crash course)
Washing cloth nappies is easy once you get into the swing of it, here’s a few simple steps to get you started before you've had time to read our full Washing Guide.
In short, all nappies need to go through 2 washes in your washing machine to ensure that bacteria has been killed and they’re adequately cleaned.
- Firstly, make sure you're familiar with our earlier point about what to do with the poo. For most babies, you’ll need to drop solids into the toilet.
- Pre-wash or First wash – ideally do this daily, place dirty nappies in your washing machine for a 60 degree wash. This rinses out poo and wee, and kills bacteria. When complete, put these nappies aside in a dry pail basket.
- Main wash – every 2-4 days, bundle all nappies you’ve already washed once together into your washing machine for a longer more intense main wash. This can be done at 40 or 60 degrees. Because your nappies have already been washed once, it’s perfectly hygienic for you to add additional items of clothing to this wash load.
- Hang to dry. Inserts can be tumble dried if required.
Remember to read our full cloth nappy washing guide for the detailed instructions, which include instructions on how to dry cloth nappies and how to perform a strip and sanitise.
That's a wrap
That’s it. Thanks for reading. We hope this ultimate guide helps you on your cloth nappy journey. Remember, by choosing cloth nappies, you're doing a great thing for the planet, your baby, and your finances. If you get stuck, we're here to help. Any questions, reach out.