Cloth Nappies – FAQ’s

Washable Nappy Questions

Welcome to the Cloth Nappy FAQ, Sit comfortably & enjoy the read….
If you have a question that we don’t have the answer for, please post it in the comments, email us or give us a call and we will endeavour to find the answer for you!

The Questions are broken down into the following sections:

New to Cloth Nappies or Considering going Cloth

How many Nappies do I need?

Depends on how frequently you want to wash. If you currently use disposables then a fair equation would be current no. nappies + 2 extra then multiply by number of days you want between washes. Remember to take into account nappies to use whilst others are in the wash.

What type of Nappies should I buy?

In terms of nappy types everyone has a personal preference. Ideally you should aim to try at least one nappy of various ones that ‘take your fancy’ before making a serious investment. If the nappy you choose doesn’t work out for you then try another, don’t be discouraged as each baby is a different size, shape etc so are the nappies. Buying preloved is a great way of trying out nappies as well as trial packs of individual nappies.

Do I need wraps for all my Nappies?

Not all nappies require wraps, some nappies have a waterproof layer built into the nappy. Do make sure that you read the instructions on the nappies before using to make sure you have all the required parts as wraps are typically sold separately. For further info please read our beginner’s guide and jargon buster

What ratio of Nappies to wraps do I need?

Wraps don’t require changing every time you change the nappy unless it’s dirty. They can normally we wiped out or aired between uses. I would normally change the wrap after three uses. So around three nappies to one wrap would be a fair ratio.

Are Cloth Nappies Nursery/Family friendly?

Modern Cloth Nappies are designed to be easy to use and can be used by anyone with little instruction. Most of them are shape similar to disposable nappies.

Are Cloth Nappies easy to use?

Yes, Modern Cloth nappies are easy to use, few nappies types require any additional folding or prepping before putting on. Each individual will have a preference to which type they find the easiest but it is more down to trial and error to what suits you.

Do Cloth Nappies smell?

No, Infact people often comment that they smell less than disposables. If your nappies do acquire a smell they may require a little more attention when washing.  

Nappies hinder baby’s development?

Babies are generally adaptable to their environment. If you are a regular user of both cloth and disposable nappies you might find that s/he sits up easier in disposables. However other users may find it the opposite and their baby sits easier in cloth. The nicely padded bottom helps provide a cushion when they’re up and about and there has been no proof to suggest that cloth nappies delay walking either. Considering most of our parents were probably raised in cloth and they have developed fine. Remember all babies develop at their own pace, I very much doubt that whatever nappy they’re wearing has any impact on their development.

Can I resell Nappies if I buy a brand that doesn’t suit me?

Yes, You can there are select places you can re-sell nappies. Unfortunately Ebay has a strict policy on reselling used nappies but nappy forums will normally have areas for sale or trade. The better the condition of the nappy the higher the resale value. It’s a handy place to buy nappies to try out too.

Can I buy Pre-loved Nappies?

Yes, You can buy preloved nappies, there is an extensive online community of cloth nappy users who sell or trade their nappies online, it’s a great way of trying out different types of nappy without committing to buying new. The other useful thing is the nappy will have been pre-washed as well, saving you some prep time on the nappy.

Will my childcare provider use my Nappies?

It is always worth checking with your childcare provider whether they are happy to accept cloth nappies. Some private nurseries still insist on using disposables but there are an increasing number of nurseries accepting them.

Where do I get Nappies from?

You can buy nappies online at many baby retailers such as Babipur, select stores will stock them in high street stores but I have found in-store selections to be very limited. Shopping around will get you the best deals.

Do normal Clothes fit over the Nappies?

Yes, normal clothes do fit over cloth nappies, however if your baby is particularly long you can buy vest extenders which will increase the amount of cloth at the gusset area – prolonging the usable life of the clothes. You can also buy clothes that are designed for cloth like the Frugi ‘cut for cloth’ range.

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Part-time in Cloth Nappies

Can’t afford enough Nappies straight away, Do I have to buy loads before I can start using them?

For every cloth nappy you use, is one less in landfill and one less purchased. You can increase your ‘stash’ inline with your budget. You don’t have to go ‘all out’ and buy in bulk.

Can I just use Cloth Nappies some or the time or will my baby get confused if I swap and change?

You can use cloth on a part time basis, your baby won’t get confused at all, though you may find they have ‘preferences’ to the nappies they’re wearing as cloth is a very different feel for them so the earlier you convert the easier it will be.

I can’t afford to buy loads of Nappies at once how can I do this

You can buy nappies in line with your budget, even adding one or two nappies a month will gradually all you to get cloth full time – even if you only start with enough nappies to last a day and wash daily. However to get the best value both cost and environmentally you should aim to get a couple of days worth of nappies.

How do the council Incentives work?

Most councils encourage the use of cloth nappies as it reduces the number sent to landfill. Schemes can include cash back incentives or trials packs. For further info: Cloth Nappies – Council Incentives

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Changing Nappies

How often should I change the Nappies?

You should aim to change nappies as you normally would with disposable nappies, though many nappies have an incredible amount of absorbency and may go longer, others may require changing more frequently especially if your baby is a heavy wetter.

Can I change just the nappy inners or do I need to change the whole thing?

How much of the nappy you change depends on the type of nappy you are using. Traditional & hybrid nappies just require the inners changing allowing the wrap to be used a number of times. Pocket or all-in-one nappies will require the whole nappy to be changed. For further info: Cloth Nappies – Getting Started

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New Nappies

My new nappies are leaking, what am I doing wrong?

New nappies are recommended to be pre-washed before using. This removes manufacturing chemicals and also begins the process if building up the nappies absorbency. For further info: Cloth Nappies – Why are my Nappies Leaking?

My Nappies are soaking my babies clothes straight away, what am I doing wrong?

If the whole nappy is wet, inside and out. Then the type of nappy you are using probably requires a wrap. If you’re unsure of the type of nappy you are using see: Cloth Nappies – Getting Started

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Night Nappies

How many night Nappies do I need?

If you decide to invest in ‘Night’ nappies; you will need fewer of them but enough to see you through for nights between washes also allowing for dying time as they do tend to be bulkier and may take longer to dry.

What Nappies should I use?

Specific made for purpose ‘Night’ nappies aren’t always necessary. In most cases you can ‘boost’ a normal day nappy to enable it to be used a bit longer (see below for info on ‘Boosting’). If your baby is a heavy wetter and more so at night then do try extra boosting before investing in specific types. They do tend to be bulkier than nappies intended for day use.

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What is ‘Boosting’?

Boosting is adding extra absorbency to a normal/standard nappy by using additional padding in the form of inserts. However many ‘inserts’ may also be given other names like boosters, doublers and soakers.

What is the difference between an insert and a booster?

None really, A pocket nappy for instance is sold with an insert as the initial absorbency, it can’t really be called a booster as there’s nothing for it to boost. So the booster is anything extra to that. It may be identical to it’s insert but the two together boost the absorbency of the nappy.

What is a doubler?

It’s the same as an insert or booster, though they are sometimes smaller and made of different material to the inserts. Essentially ‘doubling’ the nappies absorbency. It does tend to be an american term but as we do sell a lot of american nappies over here it just adds to the jargon really.

What is a soaker?

as above but soakers tend to refer to part of the standard nappy rather than the boosting part of it.

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Storing Dirty Nappies

What do I do with dirty Nappies?

Dirty nappies do need to be stored out of the reach of your baby/toddler so a secure nappy bucket or any bin which has an airtight lid to contain odours is recommended or a zipped waterproof bag (usually referred to as a wet bag) 

What should I do with the poop?

How you deal with poos depends on the age of your baby. For liquidy poos it’s fine to just put it through the wash. Though I tend to do a rinse cycle before doing a proper wash to get any poo off. Older babies, especially those being weaned where poo has more consistency or firmer; the poo should be removed/rinsed into the toilet before washing.

How can I make the nappy pail/bucket smell nicer?

Essential oils are fab for making the nappy bucket smell nicer lavender or tea tree oil are my favourite. You can put them in the bucket on a rag/muslin/cloth or stick a pantyliner to the lid of the bucket and apply the oil there instead. It is important however that the essential oils don’t come into contact with the cloth nappies as they can damage the PUL, and irritate baby’s skin.

For further info: Cloth Nappies – Nappy Care

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Washing Cloth Nappies

What temperature should I wash my Nappies at?

Always read the instructions on the label so you know the max. wash temperature for each nappy. Most nappies are fine at 40oC, some brands may recommend higher but there’s no harm in washing at a lower temp, however avoid washing at temperatures which exceed the recommended maximum as this may damage any waterproof lining in the nappy.

What should I wash the Nappies with?

In our experience, you can use any detergent to wash the nappies in, some cloth nappy brands recommend non-bio as enzymes in biological detergents are thought to damage some natural fibres such as bamboo.  Many parents choose eco alternatives as they have less irritants and are generally kinder to your baby’s skin.  We would recommend a long rinse to ensure the detergent is properly rinsed out of the nappies.   Softeners should also be avoided as this will affect the absorbency of the nappy.

How do I get Stains out?

Sunshine is the best natural stain remover there is. Seriously!  Drying your nappies outside on a sunny day should do the trick. Conventional stain removers can also be used but do make sure the nappies are well rinsed.
NOTE: Some brands do not recommend the use of stain removers and it can void your guarantee, if your unsure then most manufacturers are happy to be contacted with queries.

For further info: Cloth Nappies – Nappy Care

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Nappy Rash

Are clothed bums more likely to get nappy rash?

Every baby is different, typically there is a reduced chance of rashes but you should also consider the teething can cause a rash and some babies cannot tolerate man-made fibres like fleece against their skin. An excessive build-up of detergent is also thought to cause irritation. So if your baby does suffer a rash please consider the possible cause first.

Can I use creams with Cloth Nappies?

Yes, you can. But cream can affect the nappies absorbency; so it is recommended that you should use a liner between the baby’s skin and the nappy. 

Cloth Out & About

How do I store dirty Nappies when I’m out for the day?

Dirty nappies can be stored in a waterproof tote or ‘wet’ bag. These can be zipped or pull cord to be sealed. The wet bags can be washed with your nappies or clothes (check for recommended temperature). Alternatively, you can use the normal little plastic nappy sacks – just remember not to throw them in the bin.

Do I need to use disposables when I’m out for the day or on holiday?

Your own preference really. If you have access to wash facilities when you’re on holiday then reusables are fine. If you’re only out for the day then you have to be prepared to carry the dirty ones around with you in a wet bag.  As long as the dirty nappies are stored in a wet bag they won’t be smelly to carry around. 

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I am Mummy to a little boy called Quentin, currently on maternity leave until July 2010 and Nuts about Cloth Nappies.

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3 Responses

  1. Sarah P says:

    Thanks Jo for telling me about this article and thanks Nicola for writing it! My second child will be with us soon and this time around, we’re going to use cloth nappies. You’ve answered all my questions 🙂

  2. Di Coke says:

    Brilliant article; the information is presented here so clearly and it answers all my questions.

    I love that sunshine bleaches the stains out of nappies (and clothes!)- my friends don’t believe it but it’s true!

  3. Francesca Jones says:

    very good Article answers all the questionsI had , Im going to give cloth a try 🙂
    thanks x

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