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FAQs

Starting out:

How do I actually use cloth nappies? (What about the poo?!)
Why are there so many types of washable nappies? Which is the best?
Can I trial cloth nappies before I buy anything?
How many nappies do I need?
What size nappies should I buy? What size is "birth to potty"?
Do I need a bigger change bag for cloth nappies?


Laundry related questions:

Do I need to prewash or soak my nappies before use?
How do I wash my nappies properly?
Is it really hygienic to use cloth nappies? Won't there be poo left in my machine?
Can I wash my nappies with other laundry?
How should I dry my nappies and how long will they take to dry?
How do I get rid of stains and prevent them?
Can I continue to use my nappies if my child is unwell with a stomach bug?
What is 'strip washing' and why might I need to do it?
Can I use nappy creams or rash creams when using washable nappies?
Can I use essential oils with cloth nappies? Should I put tea tree in the nappy bucket or wash?
Can I wash nappies at a laundrette?
I washed or dried my nappies wrong! Are they ruined? How can I tell?


Common concerns:

Some cloth nappies look really bulky. Is that bad for my baby? Will it stop them being able to roll over/walk/move?
Will my baby get too hot in cloth nappies?
Will my child get rashes?
Will cloth nappies really save me money?
Are cloth nappies really better for the environment?


Nappy related questions:

Why are there so many types of nappy? Why are they all so different?
What is a 'fitted' nappy? And what's the difference between an all-in-one and an all-in-two?
What are 'Charcoal Bamboo inserts'? What do they do?
What is the difference between microfibre, bamboo, hemp and zorb? What is zorb anyway?!
What is the difference between polarfleece and microfleece? And how does fleece work inside AND outside a nappy?!


Other questions:

How do I use washable nappies when I am out and about?
Can I store my cloth nappies for my next child? How is best to store them?
I have some nappies I don't want any more, what can I do with them?
What do all the abbreviations I see everywhere mean?!
My child is in disposables at the moment, is there any point in switching?
I tried cloth before and didn't get on with it, is it worth trying again now my child is a bit older?
Can I use cloth nappies with a hip cast?
My child is disabled, can I still use cloth nappies?
I have twins or multiples, will I need twice as many nappies or different ones for each child?
I have an older child who still needs full protection at night, what are my options?
Will my local nursery/child-minder be happy to use cloth nappies?
Can I use cloth nappies in hospital?
Where can I get clothes that go really nicely with cloth nappies?


Answers:



How do I actually use cloth nappies? (What about the poo?!)

Modern washable nappies are very easy to use. No more scrubbing and soaking, you can simply pop the used nappy into a waterproof wetbag or nappy bucket. The bag or bucket can then be emptied into the washing machine on wash day, and a 60 degree wash with your usual non-bio detergent should be sufficient. Washing hints and tips, and more extensive instructions can be found here.

For a photo guide to getting a good fit with a cloth nappy, see "Fitting Guide" in the top bar.

To make it easier to remove solids (or not so solid!) you can add a liner to the nappy before putting it on the child. Liners can be disposable or washable.
If you are using a nappy that requires an outer wrap, this can usually be wiped clean and reused with the next nappy. If your nappy is all-in-one with the waterproof layer built in, the whole nappy is changed.


Why are there so many types of washable nappies? Which is the best?

The 'best' nappy will be different for every child, or every family. Children are different shapes and sizes, and parents or caregivers all have different requirements. You may prefer snaps/poppers or you may get on best with applix/hook and loop fastening. Your child may get leaks in the nappies that your friend swears by, and vice versa!
For example, a family living in a small flat with no access to outdoor drying and very limited space inside may prefer to choose nappies that absorb less but dry really fast for quick turn around. A person with plenty of space may choose nappies that absorb more, and last longer for fewer changes, but will need a longer drying time.
So there really is no overall 'best' nappy, it's about what works for you and your child.


Can I trial various cloth nappies before I buy anything?

Yes. The UK Cloth Nappy Library Network has a map of most of the libraries and trial schemes across the UK. The majority are non-profit and run by volunteers. They offer the chance to trial reusable nappies before buying anything. Click the pins for contact details of each library/trial scheme. The red pins represent libraries that offer postal loans.





How many nappies do I need?

This is a difficult question to answer as it depends on many factors, including how often you plan to wash the nappies, and how long they last for your child. The general consensus is that for full-time use, washing every 2-3 days, twenty five is a good number. This usually leaves you with a few spare whilst washing and drying or for emergency use!


What size nappies should I buy? What size is "birth to potty"?

Washable nappies usually go by weight. 'Birth to potty' generally fit from around 9/10lbs up to around 35lbs. To adjust the size, the majority have snaps on the front (usually called 'rise' snaps). You can pop the bottom row and middle row to the top row which brings the front of the nappy up, making the legs and 'rise' smaller.
Obviously fit varies child to child, and as children grow, they change shape too, so nappies that didn't fit initially may start to fit beautifully later on. See our "Fitting Guide" page on the top bar to help you get the best fit with a washable nappy.


Do I need a bigger change bag for cloth nappies?

Not usually, no. If you find it a squeeze to add washable nappies to your change bag, try rolling them up into a sausage. This makes them much more compact and works for muslins and clothing too!


Do I need to prewash or soak my nappies before use?

Yes, you will need to give your nappies a couple of washes before you use them to fluff up the fibres and remove manufacturing residues. Where nappies are made from natural fibres, they often increase in absorbency for the first few washes. You can put them through with other items, but do not use any fabric conditioner as that will reduce their absorbency by coating the fibres, which is not what you want in a nappy!


How do I wash my nappies properly?

The majority of manufacturers, retailers and cloth nappy organisations recommend using non-biological detergent and a 60 degree washing machine cycle. 60 degrees is recommended because combined with detergent it will remove or kill most bacteria or microbes.
A cold rinse cycle or cold soak prior to washing will contract the fibres and help reduce staining (daylight is natures best stain remover. Hang your nappies outside whilst damp for a few hours and most stains will disappear).
You can find detailed washing instructions here.


Is it really hygienic to use cloth nappies? Won't there be poo left in my machine?

No, there shouldn't be poo left in your machine. No more so than when a disposable nappy leaks and you need to wash clothing. We recommend using a liner to catch most of the poo which you can then either dispose of, or rinse off when you change the nappy. That way, you are minimising the amount of poo that you put through your machine anyway, and a 60 degree wash with your usual non-bio detergent should get your nappies nice and clean without leaving anything unsavoury in your washing machine.
Regular maintenance of your washing machine certainly helps keep it as effective as possible. Because every washing machine is different, you may find that some detergents work better for you than others.


Can I wash my nappies with other laundry?

Yes, but it is a personal choice. Washing at 60 degrees should leave your nappies fully clean so in theory there is no reason why other items couldn't go in at the same time and also come out fully clean. If you do chose to wash other items with your nappies, avoid using fabric conditioner as it coats fibres and reduces absorbency.


How should I dry my nappies and how long will they take to dry?

Generally, the more absorbent the nappy, the longer it will take to dry. However, many nappies now have removable booster, or fold out bits that help them dry quicker. You can sometimes tumble-dry nappies on a cool or low-heat setting but always check the manufacturers/retailers instructions.
We recommend drying your nappies on an airer near a radiator, or on a heated airer. Some fibres can be damaged by too much heat for too long, so as a general rule, if it's too hot to hold your hand against, then it's too hot to lay nappies on to dry. If you are having difficulty drying your nappies, hanging them near a heat source with a small fan blowing gently at them can speed up drying time, as can a dehumidifier near by. A rotary line cover than allows you to dry nappies outside even when raining can be a good investment as then you also have the benefit of UV light to fade stains.


How do I get rid of stains and prevent them?

Stains are inevitable with nappies but you can minimise them by using a liner to catch solids (the more of the nappy the liner covers, the more it'll protect) and doing a cold soak or rinse before the main wash.
If your nappies come out of the washing machine with stains, hanging them outside whilst damp will usually fade them or get rid of them completely. The brighter the sunshine, the quicker the stains will fade, but stains will even fade on very dull days, it just might take a bit longer.
In the event of really stubborn stains, we recommend using a nappy friendly or earth-friendly bleach, or olive oil soap. Using harsh stain removers or oxy-action powders can void your warranty and potentially damage your nappies.

More in depth information about washing nappies can be found here.


Can I continue to use my nappies if my child is unwell with a stomach bug?

Yes you can. A good 60 degree wash with detergent should remove most microbes from your nappies. We would recommend washing sooner rather than storing dirty nappies for several days, and of course practising good hygiene when changing baby and washing your nappies.
Ensure that the nappies are totally dry and well aired before using them again as bacteria like damp conditions. The same applies for using nappies during vaccinations.


What is 'strip washing' and why might I need to do it?

A 'stripe wash' or 'stripping' nappies refers to removing residue and detergent or mineral build up on your nappies. If your nappies suddenly start to leak despite a good fit, or if your nappies smell strange, you may have a problem. However, if your washing routine is right for your machine, then you shouldn't ever need to 'strip' your nappies. Washing routine varies from machine to machine and there is no single correct way to wash your nappies. There are also many myths surrounding nappy washing. It is true that using too much detergent is potentially problematic, but so is using too little!
To avoid needing to ever 'strip' your nappies, we recommend starting with a full dose of your usual non-bio detergent and then watching the final rinse of the washing cycle. If there are detergent bubbles remaining during the final rinse, then reduce the amount of detergent slightly, or run an extra rinse cycle. People in hard water areas are likely to need to use more detergent than soft water areas but it also depends on your washing machine.

More in depth washing information can be found by clicking the "Washing Guidelines" button at the top of this page.


Can I use nappy creams or rash creams when using washable nappies?

You should avoid creams containing petroleum, paraffin or any derivatives of them, as they can coat fibres and are difficult to remove from nappies. We recommend using a liner with any creams, and to ensure they are rubbed in well. A list of creams that are "cloth-safe" as agreed by the UK Cloth Nappy Library Network can be found in the Washing Guidelines.

Can I use essential oils with cloth nappies? Should I put tea tree in the nappy bucket or wash?

We would recommend avoiding essential oils in your washing routine or on wipes unless under the guidance of a qualified aromatherapist. Although essential oils are "natural", they can be dangerous and are often skin sensitising without it immediately becoming apparent. The overuse of anything anti-microbial is also likely to cause problems long-term.
If you are concerned about smells, a few drops of an oil safe for children such as lavender, on a panty liner or breast-pad stuck to the lid of the bucket, or on the edge of the zip of a wetbag, should be enough. A good quality wetbag will keep smells locked inside anyway and shouldn't need anything.


Can I wash nappies at a laundrette?

This depends on the laundrette. Many laundrettes have been happy for people to use their machines for nappies but they do ask you to rinse any solids off the nappies as much as possible prior to bringing them in. Using a liner cut to the shape of the nappy to catch as much as possible will help with this.


I washed or dried my nappies wrong! Are they ruined? How can I tell?

Oh dear. The good news is that many nappies are more robust than expected so hopefully they are not ruined. Washing all-in-one nappies or wraps too hot can affect the PUL (polyurethane laminate - usually used as the waterproof layer), causing the nappy or wrap to 'de-laminate', which is where the waterproofing starts to come away from the fabric it's laminated to. If your waterproof layer is visible, you can usually see this happening. In nappies where the layer is not visible, the nappy may go 'crispy', 'crunchy' or 'squeaky' when handled. To check whether the PUL is intact, pour a small pool of water onto the affected nappy and leave it for half hour, then check the other side for dampness.

Another problem that may occur after washing or drying nappies too hot is patchy fibre loss. This affects bamboo more commonly. Sustained dry heat can weaken or loosen the fibres which then, after a few more washes, start to fall out, giving the appearance of 'slug-eaten' patches. The temperature at which this occurs varies depending on air humidity, how damp the bamboo is, and various other factors, but a good rule to go by is that if the surface is too hot to hold your hand against, then it is too hot for bamboo.


Some cloth nappies look really bulky. Is that bad for my baby? Will it stop them being able to roll over/walk/move?

No, bulky nappies are not bad for your baby. Before disposables hit mainstream use in the 1980s, babies still rolled over, walked and moved just fine. In fact, there are indications that the more bulky nappies are better for hip development as they support the natural 'M' shape of the legs/pelvis.

For more information about hip development, hip dysplasia and nappies, please see ...(coming soon)....


Will my baby get too hot in cloth nappies?

No. Most modern cloth nappies use polyurethane laminate, microfleece or wool, as the waterproof or water-resistant layer, which are all much more breathable than the vinyl 'plastic pants' of years past. There is even some evidence that modern reusable nappies are slightly cooler than their disposable counterparts (citation needed) and certainly plenty of anecdotal evidence that babies tend to be more comfortable in cloth.


Will my child get rashes in washable nappies?

Generally, children in cloth nappies have very few rashes, as most reusable nappies have a stay-dry layer next to the skin. Disposable liners can stay damp next to the skin, which may cause rashes for some children, so we recommend using micro fleece liners to catch solids. The fleece stays dry against the skin but soiling can easily be rinsed off before popping the liner in the wash with the nappy. (If your child has a sensitivity to micro fleece, you could try suede cloth as an alternative.)

Ensuring that your nappies are thoroughly rinsed at the end of the washing cycle will help keep rashes to a minimum, and of course as much nappy-free time as possible. Barrier creams are not recommended with washable nappies as they can form a barrier on the nappies, preventing the nappy from absorbing properly. Ensuring any creams are rubbed into the skin well, and using a liner to protect the nappy will lessen the chance of problems. A list of creams that are "cloth-safe" as agreed by the UK Cloth Nappy Library Network can be found here.

During teething, wee can become more acidic and cause rashes for children who don't normally get rashes. Charcoal bamboo fleece has tiny particles of charcoal mixed in with the polyester. The fleece is often wrapped around microfibre inserts to make "Charcoal bamboo inserts". Charcoal reduces acidity and can therefore potentially help reduce teething rash. It is worth noting that there is no actual "bamboo" in charcoal bamboo inserts. The charcoal is derived from burnt bamboo. These inserts are no more absorbent than a similar microfibre insert, however some do find that the fleece outer of the insert repels fluid, which can help prevent compression leaks, giving the illusion that the charcoal bamboo insert lasts longer than standard microfibre insert.


Will cloth nappies really save me money?

That depends on what you buy and how you use them. It is possible to "cloth bum" your child virtually free if you are willing to accept preloved nappies and are not fussy about style/look. Buying from new, cloth nappies range in price from just £4 each to over £50 for a custom-made, beautifully embroidered one-of-a-kind nappy. Disposable nappies cost between 6p each and 52p each depending on brand too. As a reasonable example, we can take figures of 12p per disposable, and £10 for a washable nappy. An average number of changes per day is 6. This takes into account both newborn stage, going through many nappies every day, and toddler stage, where they can often go 4/5 hours without needing to be changed.
So 6 changes per day at 12p per nappy = 72p, times 365 days in a year = £262.80 The Environmental Agency figures state that most children are over two and a half years old before they potty train, so we will use 2.5 years for our calculation. 262.80 x 2 years = £525.60 plus another half year =
£657 total cost of disposable nappies from birth to potty training.

To use cloth nappies full-time, washing every 3 days, you would need around 25 nappies. At our figure of £10 each, this is £250. The average 60 degree wash cycle with detergent, and wear and tear to washing machine = 45p x 2 wash loads a week = 90p per week = £46.80 per year, so over two and half years = £117 added to the £250 = £367 total cost of washable nappies from birth to potty training. Of course, you can also then sell your washable nappies, making that figure even lower. In fact, some reusable nappies actually GAIN value as they become limited edition prints so some people actually make a profit by using washable nappies! Strange, but true!


Are cloth nappies really better for the environment?

That depends on who you ask and how you calculate "damage". Certainly you do not need to boil wash, soak, scrub and tumble dry nappies these days. Many dry in a few hours on an airer if you have no outside washing line or it's raining (there are ways of drying outside even in the rain these days for those short on inside space!) and for most people a 40 degree wash is enough to get the nappies beautifully clean. Modern washing machines are very effective, using minimal water and power to properly clean things. Because nappies are so absorbent, you usually can use less detergent than specified on the packaging (depends on your machine, water type etc. Click here for more information on washing effectively) and manufacturing processes are, in the main, more eco-friendly now than they were 15 years ago. Many brands are made in the UK so less air miles too.

Some disposable brands are also made using more eco-friendly methods nowadays too but in the main, disposables use more chemicals, more processing, and more air miles. The Environmental Agency figures for 2008 state that each child puts 0.86 tonnes of nappies into landfill over the course of their time in nappies. These days, children are potty training later and that figure has almost certainly risen. Go Real are working on up to date figures but even at 0.86 tonnes per child that is a huge amount of landfill. Most cloth nappies last for two children, if not longer, and when worn out the materials can be, and often are, re-purposed into wipes, inserts, cloth pads and other useful items. The lack of landfill alone is a significant factor in environmental friendliness. Even using just one cloth nappy a day saves 365 a year from landfill.


Why are there so many types of nappy? Why are they all so different?

The simple answer is because every nappy suits a different family's needs. Originally everyone used terry towels with no covers over them. Then someone had the idea of adding waterproof 'pants' or covers over the top so that clothes didn't get damp. Then someone else had the idea of prefolds instead of terry towels, which are more trim. The waterproof covers had velcro added to them for ease of access, then someone else decided they preferred poppers instead of velcro. The shape of covers was changed slightly to suit different children. Some preferred extra leg gussets, others found that different materials were better. Then someone decided that if the prefold was actually shaped and also did up with velcro or poppers, that would be even easier. Then people started changing the shape and materials of them too, and you can see how so many different types have appeared. Every family has slightly different needs, so there are a huge range of nappies available now to suit the huge range of families and children.


What is a 'fitted' nappy? And what's the difference between an all-in-one and an all-in-two?

There are three basic layers of a washable nappy. An outer waterproof layer, an absorbent layer, and sometimes a third layer to keep the skin dry. When these layers are all put on the child separately they have individual names as follows:

Waterproof layer - 'wrap'

Shaped absorbent layer - 'fitted'

'Stay-dry' layer - 'lining' or, if combined with poo-catching, 'liner'

So you can get get different types of 'wrap', different types of 'fitted' nappies and different types of 'liners' which are usually disposable or fleece - more about them below.

Sometimes, the absorbent layer attaches to the outer 'wrap' layer, usually with 'snaps' or poppers, to create a single nappy that can be taken apart for washing. These may be called 'all-in-one', 'all-in-two' or sometimes 'snap-in-one' or 'snap-in-two'.

Although many 'all-in-one' nappies are lined with a 'stay-dry' lining layer from which poo can be rinsed off, many people prefer to add another 'liner' to catch the poo separately to the nappy. It is then easier to dispose of either down the loo or thrown away. See below for more about liners.

A 'pocket' nappy is a popular choice these days. It is essentially an 'all-in-one' that you can take the stuffing, called 'inserts' or 'boosters' out of so that it dries faster and you can customise the absorbency to suit your individual circumstances. See the next few questions below for material types used and how materials differ.


What are 'Charcoal Bamboo inserts'? What do they do?

The 'charcoal bamboo' part applies to the microfleece that is wrapped around these inserts. The inside is a normal microfibre insert which can be 1-3 layers depending where you buy them from. They are NOT bamboo, which is a common misconception due to the name. The nanoparticles of charcoal that are mixed into the microfleece during manufacture of the fleece are derived from bamboo. The word 'bamboo' in the name 'charcoal bamboo insert' simply highlights the difference between charcoal coloured fleece and fleece that actually has charcoal particles in it.

The charcoal is in the inserts to reduce acidity, which reduces smells and lessens rashes in children prone to them, during teething for example. They can sometimes appear to be more absorbent than microfibre alone because the microfleece around it repels fluid back into the insert and helps prevent the 'compression leaks' that microfibre can be prone to.


What is the difference between microfibre, bamboo, hemp and zorb? What is zorb anyway?!

The main two materials that people talk about in relation to nappies are microfibre and bamboo, but you will also see cotton, hemp and zorb, minky, bamboo velour and sometimes blends of several of these in one nappy or insert!

Microfibre is a man-made material which absorbs quickly but acts like a sponge, which means liquid can easily be squished out of it. Microfibre dries very quickly but does not absorb very much. At around 4-6 months, most people find that a single microfibre insert is only lasting an hour or so before leaking. Microfibre is usually white or off-white in colour and is drying to the skin, feeling 'catchy' so we always recommend using a liner or keeping it away from direct contact with the skin.

Bamboo, also called bamboo rayon or viscous, is a processed material derived from bamboo. Bamboo inserts are much more absorbent than microfibre inserts but they absorb slowly, so wee can roll off the edges before it's absorbed, and because it holds so much, it takes longer to dry. Bamboo material comes in several different forms - terry, fleece, and various weights but usually bamboo looks similar to terry cotton but with more looped, shiny fibres that are often beige rather than white. Bamboo often shrinks over time so new bamboo nappies and inserts will be slightly bigger than preloved/older ones. People often say that bamboo has "antibacterial properties", and whilst this may be true of the plant, by the time bamboo is processed into material, those properties have probably all but been lost.

Most people using pocket nappies find that using microfibre on top, closest to the skin (but not actually touching the skin - in this context we mean closest to the skin within the pocket), and bamboo underneath it is the best combination. Bamboo is much thinner than microfibre so doesn't add much bulk, but with those two together we would expect a good fitting pocket nappy to last around 4 hours. You can add more boosters/inserts to suit your child's needs.

Hemp is often combined with cotton to make 'hemp' inserts. Hemp absorbs faster than bamboo but holds around the same amount of fluid, though some say hemp is more absorbent. It's certainly just as trim as bamboo inserts. Hemp can also be grown and manufactured in a more earth-friendly way but hemp inserts usually dry quick stiff and hard, and can have a strange smell to them. They also tend to be more expensive. It is very much a personal preference between bamboo and hemp. Hemp, and bamboo to an extent, becomes more absorbent with each wash cycle. Some say it can take up to 8 washes for hemp to get to full absorbency, others say only 2 or 3 washes are needed. Many use their inserts right away with only a single prewash. We find it best to keep an open mind and try things several times before deciding whether it works for you or not. Hemp can also be made into a 'fleece' and used inside nappies but usually hemp feels similar to a pair of jeans. Some hemp blends feel really soft to start with but harden up over time. Preloved hemp will feel more rough and stiff than new hemp. Hemp also shrinks slightly with use.

Zorb was developed by a company in the US to meet the demand in the nappy/diaper industry for a fast absorbing material that holds as much as possible, does not shrink, does not leak when compressed and dries quickly. Not much to ask eh?! It is a blend of cotton, bamboo, hemp and man-made fibres. It falls apart unless sandwiched between other fabrics so will never be an external fabric. Zorb is usually used in heavy duty nappies as it is an expensive, specialist material. Some Work At Home Mums make zorb inserts or boosters but the majority of the time it is found within the nappy itself. It is white and sort of fluffy but with a more rough feel to it.

Minky is a very soft, man-made material. Made from polyester, it is often used on the outside of nappies as it is so soft. It can also be used instead of microfleece as liners but it has a longer pile so most only use it for liners if their child is sensitive to microfleece and doesn't get on with disposable liners. When used on the outside of nappies such as pockets, or all-in-one nappies, it is laminated with PUL - polyurathane laminate to make it waterproof on the inner, smooth side. Minky has been used by a few companies inside nappies as the absorbent layer, but although it is lovely and soft, and dries really fast, it is not very absorbent and many find that nappies with minky as the absorbent material only last a couple of hours unless boosted with bamboo or hemp.

Bamboo Velour is also extremely soft like minky but bamboo velour is absorbent as it is derived from bamboo. It too can be backed with PUL so can be used on the outside of a nappy, but can also be found inside nappies. It is expensive so is considered more of a 'luxury' fabric. It has a slightly shorter pile than minky. Bamboo velour is sometimes called 'obv' which stands for 'organic bamboo velour' but as with bamboo rayon, although the plant may have been organic, the material itself is processed and any beneficial properties of being derived from an organic plant over a non-organic plant have probably been lost. There is the argument that organically grown bamboo is more environmentally friendly, but this is again something we would recommend researching yourself if it is important to you.

All these materials can come in various forms, colours, and weights so the descriptions above are not exhaustive, but hopefully explain the main points that come up in groups or that you might see people talking about.



What is the difference between polarfleece and microfleece? And how does fleece work inside AND outside a nappy?!

Polarfleece and microfleece are both made from polyester fibres and are man-made. Essentially they are the same, but polarfleece tends to be thicker and more expensive. As you probably know, polyester fleece is used in the clothing industry as a warm, water-repellent fabric, making it good for jackets and jumpers. In nappies, we utilise this property to keep babies skin dry inside the nappy. Fluid passes through the fleece when sucked through by the absorbent layer on the other side of it. This is aided by the warmth and pressure of the child's bottom. If you take a fleece liner and pour water on it, the water will roll off. If you put a flannel or nappy under it, apply slight pressure and pour the water on again, it will go through the fleece. You can then press a tissue against it and it will come away dry! That is how it works inside a nappy. The fluid passes through the fleece liner into the warm, absorbent nappy fabric, and it doesn't want to come back through to the non-absorbent skin of the child.
So that's also how it works when used as a 'soaker' or 'wrap' outside the nappy. The nappy itself is warm, and the air outside the nappy is cool, so only very small amounts of fluid pass through the fleece. Any small amounts of fluid that do pass through the fleece wrap evaporate off because it is warmer than the air, so can actually help a nappy last longer than it would with a PUL wrap over it. And yes, this means that you can use a fitted nappy without a cover under a fleece sleep suit! However, if your child stays still for long periods at night, the mattress will warm up and then fluid may start to pass through the fleece into the mattress, which is why fleece soakers and wraps work best for older children who are more active in their sleep than young babies.



How do I use washable nappies when I am out and about?

Initially, many people use washable nappies part-time whilst they get the hang of it, and because reusable nappies are fine in a wetbag or dry bucket for up to 4 days, there's no problem with just using a few a day. When you do start thinking about using them out and about, you may wonder how to fit them in your changing bag as they're not as slim as disposables. If you roll them up tightly they take up a third of the room as when they are flat, or if you feel it's time to upgrade your changing bag, there are several companies that make bags designed for cloth nappy use and that are plenty big enough. Asking in the cloth nappy Facebook groups is sure to bring inspiration!
To deal with used nappies you have a choice. You can either just roll the nappy up and pop it in a wetbag to deal with at home later, or if facilities allow, you can swish the liner off in the loo (the "dunk and flush" method!) before rolling the nappy up and putting it in a wetbag. Wetbags come in many shapes and sizes but any waterproof bag will be fine. A good wetbag will keep in smells and moisture until you get home and can rinse it off. Going out and about with cloth nappies should be as easy as using them at home, with the added bonus of people in the change room admiring your fabulous nappies!


Can I store my cloth nappies for my next child? How is best to store them?

You can store reusable nappies, and indeed many of us have been handed down 50 year old cotton terry towels from our mother-in-laws or grandmothers, but modern nappies have elastic to think about. Elastics tend to be the most troublesome part of washable nappies for storing. Elastic doesn't like to be left untouched for long periods, and certainly doesn't like changes in temperature, so a loft is often not the best place to store your nappies. The most successful storage method seems to be vacuum packing the nappies and storing in a cupboard that stays at a fairly constant temperature. If you can't vacuum pack them, rolling them up and putting them in a plastic tub with a lid, in a dark place with a constant temperature is voted the next best way to store them.


I have some nappies I don't want any more, what can I do with them?

There are plenty of groups on Facebook where you can sell your nappies when you're finished with them, and a quick search will bring up plenty of other websites where you can sell them too. You might consider donating them to your closest nappy library. Most libraries are run by volunteers, who foot much of the costs of running the libraries themselves so donated nappies are always welcomed. The UK Cloth Nappy Library Network can help you find your closest library, or will often cover postage and distribute them to various nappy libraries for you.
Go Real and the UK Cloth Bank also accept donated nappies to redistribute to those in need.


What do all the abbreviations I see everywhere mean?!

New abbreviations appear regularly, so please tell us if you feel we are missing any! These are the most commonly used:

BTP - birth to potty
AIO - all in one
SIO - snap in one
AI2 - all in two
OSFM - one size fits most
OSFA - one size fits all
NB - newborn
BV - bamboo velour
CBI - charcoal bamboo insert
MF - microfibre
CSP - cloth sanitary protection
RUMPs - reusable menstrual pads
MCN - modern cloth nappies
SS - side snaps
PUL - polyurethane laminate
FOE - fold over elastic
TT - terry towelling

Hybrid - a mix of any two nappy "systems" (i.e can be used with a wrap or without due to hidden water resistant layer, or can use disposable or cloth inserts)

RNW - Reusable/Real Nappy Week
RNA - Reusable Nappy Association
CNL - Cloth nappy library
GCDC - Great Cloth Diaper Change
FFP - Free for postage
FS - For sale
FSOT - For sale or trade
BST - Buy Sell Trade
ISO - In search of
DISO - Desperately in search of
PP - Paypal
GN - Gender neutral
FB - Facebook

Aplix - velcro/hook & loop fastening
Snaps/Kam snaps - poppers fastening
Nippa - a rubber gadget with hooks to hold nappies closed
Snappi - similar to a Nippa


My child is in disposables at the moment, is there any point in switching?

Yes, even if just for potty training, switching to washable can save you money and will save disposables from landfill so it's always worth considering. If you're unsure, borrow a kit from a library or trial scheme and see whether you think it's worth it before you buy anything.
For older children and adults, disposables do start to get extremely expensive, so although up-sized washable nappies may seem expensive at first glance, they're actually still a big saving on buying disposables, as well as usually being much more comfortable.


I tried cloth before and didn't get on with it, is it worth trying again now my child is a bit older?

Yes, absolutely. Children change shape as they grow, so if the problem was finding nappies that fit properly, trying again after a couple of months can make all the difference. Lots of people find that cloth nappies from birth, especially with a first child, is a bit much to handle, but that around 4/5 months old, once a routine is more established, cloth nappies become much easier. Children also change shape when they start to walk. Many people worry that their birth to potty reusable nappies are starting to get a bit small when their baby is only a year old, but then baby slims out as they start to move around more and suddenly everything fits nicely again. So it's always worth giving cloth another try if it doesn't suit you the first time round.


Can I use cloth nappies with a hip cast?

Yes. For information on washable nappies with hip dysplasia please see here....(coming soon).....


My child is disabled, can I still use cloth nappies?

Yes. There are many WAHM's (Work At Home Mum's) who can custom-make nappies to take into account any needs or disabilities. You may find that you can adapt a standard washable nappy to suit, or you may prefer to have a nappy specifically designed for your little one. Contact us with your requirements and we will try to match you with someone who can help you find what you need.


I have twins or multiples, will I need twice as many nappies or different ones for each child?

Possibly, it depends how often you want to wash, and whether your little ones are identical, or fraternal. Assuming that you want to use cloth full time, and wash every 2/3 days, we would expect you to need around 40 nappies. If your babies are identical, then it stands to reason that what fits one beautifully will also fit the other(s) the same. If non-identical or different ages, then you may find that they suit different nappies, but birth-to-potty options mean that you can share nappies between the children, just changing the setting for each if need be. Bearing in mind that washable nappies don't have to be a full time venture, you may prefer to start with a smaller number and build on that as you get into a routine.


I have an older child who still needs full protection at night, what are my options?

Until quite recently, older children and adults have been somewhat neglected by the washable nappy market. However, that has changed and there are now many options to suit older children. You can contact us to discuss your needs and we will signpost you to suitable solutions. We are developing an upsized DBK for older children. Sign up to our newsletter to be the first to find out when it is available.


Will my local nursery/child-minder be happy to use cloth nappies?

We hope so! Usually the only thing stopping them is lack of knowledge or previous bad experience. They may not realise that modern cloth nappies are as easy as disposables for them to use, so showing them your nappies and how easy they are to use may help rid them of any reluctance. Feedback from childminders and nurseries that do use (or even prefer) cloth is that they prefer applix fastening in the main where possible, and that they appreciate a quick lesson in how to best fit them to your child as every child is different. They also prefer that you supply a small, individual bag (reusable wetbag or degradable bag) for each nappy, as well as a large wetbag ("double bagging") for extra hygiene. Most won't empty the poo or rinse the liner, as they often do not have a loo close to hand when they change the children, so you'll need to deal with that bit when you get them back home again.


Can I use cloth nappies in hospital?

As with childminders/nursery (see above), you are likely to be asked to double-bag the used nappies and to have them taken home each day, but other than that, there should be no reason why the hospital would not accept your choice of nappy. If you do have any difficulties, the P.A.L.S for the hospital (usually leaflets in the foyer) may be able to help, and you could speak to your local nappy library to gain their assistance. Again, the reason to say no is usually lack of knowledge or prior bad experience, so communication is key.


Where can I get clothes that go really nicely with cloth nappies?

Many reusable nappies these days are so trim that there is no need to worry about clothing not fitting. However, if you find that clothes are a bit tight, and going up a size isn't a suitable solution, vest extenders are available which snap to the bottom poppers of baby vests giving you an extra couple of inches. There are several companies who sell clothing "cut for cloth", all easily found with an online search and the main supermarket clothing brands are often said to be a good fit. Many nappy retailers also sell leggings that fit beautifully over cloth nappies, and baby leg warmers, which are perfect for showing off your stylish nappies!