Reusable Nappies-Everything you have to know about reusable nappies

In this article, I would like to research reusable nappies compared to disposable options.

My name is Jude and I am a mother of 2 young children. My eldest is 4 and my youngest is 7 months. I would like to make the change from disposable nappies to reusable cloth nappies.

Reusable nappies-Cute-Girl-In-Pink-Nappy
Reusable nappies-Cute-Girl-In-Pink-Nappy and two oversized necklaces

Whenever I start researching I feel quite overwhelmed by all the choices and varieties. Also, start-up expenses and extra washing make me feel hesitant.

Today I have decided it is time to start thorough research and to begin my adventure to find the perfect reusable nappies for my little baby. I am excited to learn more about my options and to get ready to make a choice and start using them.

Are Reusable nappies expensive?


I have considered cloth nappies for quite some time now, but every time I looked into it, one of the reasons I was putting it off, was the expense. It seems a lot of money you have to spent to set yourself up.

However, according to CHOICE magazine, we spend $1800,- up to $3000,- on disposable wipes and nappies per child.

They calculated we go through 6000 disposable nappies per child and state that you should be able to dress several kids in cloth nappies for this amount of money.

There are expensive branded options for reusable nappies on the market, but you most definitely don’t have to spend this kind of money to set your self up.

Of course, there is the expense of electricity, detergent and water to maintain your nappies but it will still be much cheaper than the disposable option.

An article from the Australian nappy association says:

“Results out of research state that most people who calculate the expense to wash their cloth nappies including water, detergent and electricity comes down to $100,- per annum.”

Reusable nappies-Water-issue-Australia
Reusable nappies-Wate- Running tap with hot water

Reusable nappies are overall very durable. When you have several children, you will be able to use them for more than 1 child.

(Keep reading for the discussion water use in reusable nappies)

 

How do I choose the fabric?


There are many fabrics you can choose from with different pros and cons. While some are quicker drying on the line, others are more absorbent.

While some fibres have better properties to use as a liner, others are more suitable as an absorbent or an outside layer.

I am interested to find out which natural materials would be suitable for nappies.

Recently I learned the benefits of organic cotton on babies skin, during research for an article I wrote, ‘organic baby clothes-How organic are you?’. Interested to read this article and to learn more about organic cotton? You may click here

More about the fabrics


Underneath you can find an overview of common materials used in reusable nappies. You can tell by the list there are quite a few, and it is no surprise it can get quite overwhelming.

I have tried to keep it short and sweet and try to not confuse more than necessary. Please find a list of fibres and their particular properties for a successful nappy experience.

Reusable nappies-baby walking on the beach wearing a Pink Pea Pod Nappy
Reusable nappies-baby walking on the beach wearing a Pink Pea Pod Nappy

Nappy liner fabrics

  • Synthetic fleece– made from polyester, not absorbent but perfect to use in the lining or insert of nappies as the material has a wicking property that keeps your babies skin dry as the moisture gets moved away from the skin.
  • Natural fleece– used in liners made from natural fibres like Bamboo, Hemp or Cotton, more absorbent properties but less wicking properties.
  • Suedecloth– is a porous polyester fabric also used in liners. Less absorbent but great to keep babies skin dry by moving moisture away to deeper layers of the nappy.
  • Cotton– Cotton is cool and breathable for babies skin but doesn’t have wicking properties, therefore it works better as an absorbent layer. In most nappies, it is either used by itself or in combination with other materials. Varieties of cotton include Terry fabric, Muslin and Flannel. If you like to go with cotton, I would recommend searching for organic cotton for several reasons.
  • Microfiber– most commonly made from polyester. Microfiber has great wicking properties and is also very absorbent. It is mainly used in the absorbent layers as it works so well. But that can irritate and dry out babies skin. The microfiber is prone to leaks and therefore use it in combination with natural fibre to prevent leaks.
  • Bamboo– The most absorbent of all fabrics but not resistant to heat, so you can’t put the nappy in the drier. Bamboo often gets used in combination with cotton.
  • Hemp-absorbent properties but not as great as cotton and polyester. Often it gets mixed with microfiber and cotton. Hemp is an environmentally-friendly choice as the plants don’t need much water to grow, and no pesticides are used as the plant is naturally pest resistant.

    Reusable nappies-Hemplant-For-Fabric
    Reusable nappies-Hemplant-For-Fabric

 

Outside material cloth nappies

  • Polyurethane laminate, (pul), made from laminating cotton or polyester with a plasticized substance used on the outside of the nappy. The polyester pul performs better than the cotton on its own, as cotton can move moisture to the outside layer which can create leaks. This material gives you a better waterproof nappy.
  • Minky- a polyester fabric that is quite popular as it is luxuriously soft and thick. Mostly a layer of (pul) is used underneath to make the nappy waterproof.
  • Wool– great natural material, and a very breathable nappy. The downside could be the maintenance. You will have to apply lanolin to every wash to look after these nappies.

What nappy varieties are available?


(AIO) 

Stands for All in one, nappy. The nappy has a water-resistant layer on the outside. The nappy is fairly thick and it will take longer to dry

(A12)

Reusable nappies-Reusable-Nappy-Stars
Reusable nappies-Reusable-Nappy-Stars

Pretty much the same as the AIO but with the booster to snap in and out. The aim is to improve the drying time and assist with the absorbency. All 3 layers can be washed separately.

(A13)

Booster, nappy and cover in 1 nappy

Pocket nappy

The outside of this nappy is waterproof and the inside has a dry layer. This nappy has a pocket where the absorbent material is placed inside the nappy.

Fitted nappy

This is another name used for modern nappies including the AIO, A12, Pocket nappies or other styles.

Prefold

Same as a flat nappy but with a thick pad in the middle. This nappy requires a waterproof cover. You will need pins or snapper’s to fasten. After the newborn stage, a booster will be required for this nappy.

Flat nappy

Squares made out of bamboo cotton, muslin or flannelette. They need a waterproof cover and you may or may not need fastening like pins or snappers depending on the cover. The flat nappy is the most budget-friendly one and the quickest drying option.

PUL Polyurethane laminate

PUL has a soft waterproof coating that is a little breathable. The Pul layer is either applied to polyester or cotton fabric.

Night Nappies

Modern cloth nappy with a booster or extra padding inside to last all night.

Are reusable nappies environmentally friendlier


than disposable ones?

An argument often used against reusable nappies is water use. It is an understandable concern as water usage in Australia is a real concern. I think this concern is relevant to many more countries as well.

We seem to forget or not realize enough how much water is used to produce disposable nappies.

In 2009 the University of Queensland has researched water usage compared to both options and found that the same amount of water is used in the production of disposable nappies compared to the use of reusable nappies.

Also, they have found that in the production of disposable nappies, more land resources and energy are used.

20 times more solid waste in disposable nappies are stated as well.

Interested to read a little more in-depth about this research? You may like to click here

How do I maintain my cloth nappies?


Again the advice is rather confusing while searching the internet on this subject. Different sites give different washing advice, but the main rule is to follow the care instructions when purchasing your cloth nappies.

Reusable nappies-Stack-Of-Reusable-Nappies
Reusable nappies-Stack-Of-Reusable-Nappies

I discovered after some research that looking after cloth nappies is much easier these days.

Some basic rules for washing nappies include:

  • Wash not warmer than 60 degrees unless there is a virus that has to be killed. Before you put the liner in the washing machine remove stool in the toilet and give the liner a rinse.
  • If not washed straight away put in a wet bag or a diaper pill and add some drops of essential oil like tea tree that has disinfecting properties.
  • Don’t use fabric softener as this will affect the absorbency of your nappy.
  • To keep your nappies nice and soft you could choose to use water softeners or a rinsing solution instead.
  • Always wash nappies in plenty of water, the eco option on your washing machine is not suitable.
  • Don’t use bleaching washing detergent as this will damage the nappy and may irritate babies skin. Try to use a natural washing detergent, if you want to use your fragrant washing detergent make sure you give an extra rinse cycle to ensure all detergent is removed.
  • After nappies are washed hang on the line to dry, the sun has natural bleaching properties. Some nappies may be suitable to put in a drier, always check the care instructions when purchasing nappies to ensure the correct maintenance.

If you are interested to learn more in-depth and detail how to wash and maintain cloth nappies, you may be interested to click here

Modern Cloth nappy library


Did you know there are cloth nappy libraries? I am not sure if this would be something I would use, but there is this option which is great.

You can just use the service to get your modern cloth nappies professional washed or to try out nappies before purchasing any to find out what kind of nappy suits you and your baby.

It is great these services are available to give you a chance to find out what works for you and preventing you from investing in a nappy setup you may regret. If you are considering using a Modern Cloth nappy library make sure Australian Laundry standard are met to prevent transmission of disease and protect your babies health.

Interested to learn more about modern cloth nappy libraries you can click here

 

Full time or part-time reusable nappies


Reusable nappies-Avocado-Nappy
Reusable nappies-Avocado-Nappy

Of course, you can make the choice for parttime or fulltime use of cloth nappies.

I have decided I am going to use reusable nappies at home first to get comfortable with their use. Later I may choose to become a fulltime cloth diaper user.

For out of the house nappy use I am going to research environmentally friendly disposable nappies.

 

Am I ready to start my reusable nappy experience?


I could study many more hours about the topic reusable nappies but after many many hours researching, I feel like I just want to start somewhere now and gain experience as a reusable nappy user for my baby.

After I gain some experience I can decide if I like the products I use and change direction if desired.

Requirements my nappies have to meet:

  • As natural as possible
  • Materials I consider are Bamboo, hemp and organic cotton
  • I would like to stay in a budget of approx $200,-to start with.

 

Even though I have decided which materials I prefer, and knowing my budget, I am still not convinced which nappy to go with. I have decided to order some trial packs to find out through use which I prefer and suit my babies’ needs.

For some, the Modern cloth nappy library would be perfect in this situation where you are not sure what to choose, however, I have to admit that it is not for me, unfortunately.

In one of my next articles, I will review my experience with the nappies I trialled.

I hope you enjoyed reading my article and it may help you to get information to make a decision which nappie might suit your baby and lifestyle.

Thank you so much for reading this article and please leave your feedback below if you like to make a comment, I’d love to hear from you!

Jude

 

14 thoughts on “Reusable Nappies-Everything you have to know about reusable nappies”

  1. Hi Jude, amazing post and great great you are promoting something so environmentally friendly. It boggles the mind to think how many nappies end up in landfill – 6,000 per child! It’s just ridiculous, and obvious we need to start making better choices.
    You have done an amazing job of convincing people to go for reusable ones, and have shown that it’s way easier than most people think. I for one will not be using disposables if I ever have kids, and it’s this post that has convinced me 100%. So, well done you 🙂

    Reply
    • Hi Stefanie, thank you so much for your feedback on my article reusable nappies. When I was reading this numbers it was quite confronting as well. I am so excited to start my reusable nappy journey, I hope my first set will arrive soon!
      I think more and more people become aware, and the knowledge of using reusable products grows what increases the numbers of people making different choices witch is great.
      Thank you so much for stopping by.
      Jude

      Reply
  2. I love the option of reusable nappies. The disposable ones add to so much trash … 6000 disposable nappies per child is an impressive number … and this is just one child … So, re-usable nappies are a great alternative!

    I have never heard of bamboo nappies. Which of the mentioned materials do you recommend the most? I like the synthetic fleece and natural fleece. 

    Your point about how much water is used to produce disposable nappies is a very good one. No one ever thinks about that. So much water is used for the production of many, many products, not just nappies… I think that the amount of water used would be less than the water used for washing the reusable ones.

    This was a very interesting article, and although I am not a mother, I think it’s wonderful that more and more people are beginning to use re-usable nappies 🙂 

    Reply
    • Hi Christine, thank you so much for reading my article and your thorough input regarding the subject reusable nappies!

      Personally I am interested in the bamboo nappies, the bamboo is used in the insert and the liners of the nappies. They claim to have antibacterial properties and suppose to have great absorbance qualities as well!

      Another material I am interested in is the inserts made from hemp. They get used in combination with other fabrics and have great absorbent properties as well.

      I like it that the plant is environmentally friendly as it doesn’t use much water to grow, also it doesn’t attract pest. So no pesticides needed in the process of growing and harvesting.

      I like these options because I feel like they are the most natural choices.

      May I ask why you like synthetic and natural fleece? You like the feel of those materials or other qualities they have?

      I am waiting for my first reusable nappies to arrive and I feel excited to get started. I will write a review soon on my experience using them.

      Thank you so much for stopping by and your feedback on this post.

      Cheers Jude

      Reply
  3. While I was reading the article on baby sun hats, I saw this article and decided to have a look. Although I am well out of the season of my life when taking care of babies is a concern, now as a grandparent I am still involved for the young children from my daughters.

    Nappies for the youngsters is a necessary expense and reusable options are good for the environment. Therefore, it was with great interest that I dove into this article to find out how to choose the right ones that I can recommend for my daughters to use.

    I totally agree that while water use may be of concern, the water used in manufacturing the disposal ones is the same and there is an additional problem of waste as they are added to all the other waste we have to deal with. For my money, it makes more sense to go with reusable. I am passing this useful and informative article on to my daughters. Thanks!

    Reply
    • Thanks a lot, Dave for your reply on this subject. I highly value your comment and I am happy the information was relevant to you. I just ordered my first trial set of reusable nappies and I choose to start off trying the Pea Pods reusable nappies as they have a bamboo insert what I am interested in to try out and their price seems fair.

      Also, it is an Australia owned company I like to support. Soon I will write a review of my experience using Peo Pods.

      Thanks again for your comment, I appreciate it a lot.

      Jude

      Reply
  4. Hi Jude!  This is an amazing post!  How cloth diapers or nappies have changed!  Of course, since I’m almost 70 its been a long time since I had to deal with cloth diapers but they weren’t as expensive as they are now.  It’s good to know that they are being used more now since we definitely need to reduce waste in our world.  

    Thanks for the great post & it was very enlightening! 

    Reply
    • Hi Sharon, thanks a lot for your reply. A lot of improvements are made compared to how cloth nappies were used in the old days but probably they are a lot more convenient to use knowledge for the parent.

      There are a lot designer brands out there with beautiful reusable nappies but at the end of the day, I think there is a solution for any budget. 

      In the long run, the reusable nappies work out a lot cheaper than the disposable ones and of course we are contributing to a environmentally better choice in the same time.

      I am waiting for my first 10 to come in and I am excited to start using them.

      Thank you so much for stopping by, I truly appreciated it.

      Jude

      Reply
  5. Hey, I enjoyed reading your post on Reusable nappies. Now we know the benefit from your guide on Reusable nappies. After having a child we will go with Reusable nappies. I found your guide very useful for everyone like me. I bookmark and share with my friends on social media. Keep this great work up.

    Reply
    • Hi Parveen, thank you so much for your response, I truly appreciated it. I am happy to hear you enjoyed reading the article and the information is useful for you. Thank you so much for your support.

      Cheers Jude

      Reply
  6. Great post-Jude. I fully planned to use reusable nappies when I had my baby, but I had a nervous breakdown when I realised how complicated it all seemed. Wish I read this a year ago. Thanks for the straightforward info.

    Reply
    • Hi Debbie, thanks for your reply. I know what you mean, I felt the same, and now looking back I wish I looked into it further with my first daughter a bit more. However, becoming a mother is an overwhelming period in most women’s lives, at least it was for me. We have to figure out some much stuff, it make total sense to feel overwhelmed. It is great there are many reusable nappies out there who are very user-friendly. Thanks a lot for stopping by, I truly appreciate it. Jude

      Reply
  7. Hi Jude
    I really enjoyed this excellent post on using reusable nappies. My sister has been using disposable nappies for my niece since she was a baby but is concerned about the effect on the environment from using them. She is worried though that if she changes to reusable nappies then it may cause flare-ups of nappy rash. Do you know if that is more likely to occur with reusable nappies compared to disposable ones?

    Reply
    • Hi Dave, thank you so much for reading my post, I am glad you enjoyed it. Regarding the skin concerns, if she is interested to try reusable nappies for her daughter it might be a good idea to order a trial package with a brand she likes to find out how her daughters skin react. There are many natural options to choose from what should be beneficial for the skin. If she is not keen on this there are several disposable nappies you can buy which are biodegradable. This way she still have a chance to make a environmentally friendlier choice, she may like that. There are natural options like bamboo in those as well. I hope this helps. Jude

      Reply

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