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.
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 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.
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.
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?
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
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.
Booster, nappy and cover in 1 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.
This is another name used for modern nappies including the AIO, A12, Pocket nappies or other styles.
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.
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.
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.
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
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!
Hi there, my name is Jude,
Welcome to justcutebabyclothes.com, I am so happy to meet you here. I live with my husband and our two young daughters, our best life in Tropical North Queensland.
I am the founder and owner of justcutebabyclothes.com and feel very passionate about what we do. After my second daughter was born, I felt inspired to start a new journey and that resulted in this website that was born in December 2019. My website is all about cute baby clothes and clothing-related items but in my blog, you can also find other baby products and topics I feel passionate about.
There is an broad variety of baby clothes on this site, however, you will find a lot of the articles are related to organic and sustainable products as I feel passionate about this. If you would like to read a bit more about me you can click here.
If you have any suggestion or feedback for justcutebabyclothes.com, we love to hear from you.
Thank you for visiting justcutebabyclothes.com and I hope to speak to you soon.