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, many include the option of a detachable fleece liner, simply flush the smelly waste away and add a fresh liner or soak the nappy in a bucket that has a lid and is emptied every 2-3 days. But a used disposable nappy will hang around in a rubbish bin for a week or two. So a cloth nappy home will smell fresher.
  • 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.