There are many reasons to use cloth nappies (also known as real or reusable nappies):
- Babies that use cloth nappies are often potty-trained earlier than others, and there’s no greater risk of nappy rash.
- Overall you’re likely to spend less than you would on disposable nappies – and if you have another child, it won’t cost you any more.
- Using them could halve your household waste.
- They are simple to use and can be used with liners that are washable or flushable.
Disposable nappies cannot be recycled and should be put into your rubbish bin, as they contaminate recycling.
News about the trial cloth nappy kit scheme
Please note that we no longer host the trial cloth nappy kit scheme. After the pandemic, cloth nappies have been available via local community lending schemes or nappy libraries run by independent hosts.
Washing cloth nappies
Here is some advice from the NHS website:
If the items you are washing are likely to cause illness (high risk), they should be washed at 60C with a bleach-based product. Items are likely to cause illness if you have someone in your home who has an infectious illness. For example, clothes soiled with vomit or poo (including resusable nappies) are high-risk.
Always remove vomit or poo from clothing before washing and flush it down the toilet. Heavily soiled items and items used in food preparation should be washed separately from other items.
You can protect yourself from infection by wearing gloves when handling high-risk laundry and always washing your hands for 20 seconds afterwards. Find out more about washing high-risk items here.
Busting the myths about cloth nappies
If you’re having a baby soon or already use disposable nappies have you considered switching to cloth or reusable nappies instead?
There are a few myths about real nappies, but the facts are very different.
- Cloth/real nappies can work out cheaper than your overall spend on disposables, more so if you use them for your next baby along with the hand-me-down clothes, books and toys! Picking up and selling is really easy, check your local Freecycle and Facebook groups or NCT nappy library. It also depends on the style you choose.
- You’ll need 8-10 cloth nappies to start with for about £80-120 (rising to 20-25 nappies in total over time) compared to using approx. 6-8,000 disposables from birth to potty at an estimated total cost of around £4,000.
- Some cloth nappy retailers let you pay by monthly instalments which helps to spread out the initial costs.
- Switching to cloth would likely increase by just one extra load per week, though many styles of reusables can go straight in the wash minimising the build-up. This can be countered by the fact you would stand to halve the average weekly household waste you’d generate when using disposable nappies.
- Washing your reusable nappies each week will never rival the amount of water and energy used to manufacture disposable nappies, and you can minimise energy output by washing at lower temperatures, line-drying instead of tumbling and washing a full load.
- No, any solids should be emptied into the toilet and using a fleece liner means it is also easier to remove. The nappy is then placed into a nappy bucket with a lid which is emptied every 2-3 days. You can also add a few drops of tea tree essential oil if you choose.
- There’s a wider choice compared with our parents’ generation, with modern designs shaped just like disposables. Many are fitted with Velcro or poppers that fasten just as easily – no pins!
- For days out take your waterproof wet-bag with you and transfer used nappies to the washing machine when you get home.
- No, leaks are caused by a bad fit, regardless of nappy type. The soft, natural fibres are more breathable for a baby’s skin than plastic; doctors often recommend that babies with sensitive skin switch to cloth/real nappies.