After trawling through Cloth nappy Facebook Groups for the last 4.5 years as well as from my own personal experience (2.5 years with 95% cloth use on my youngest), I've come up with top 30 Tips that I wish someone told me about when I first started.
1.Start with 1 or 2 reusable nappies/day and treat those nappies like any other piece of clothing that got wee or poo on it. Just give it a good rinse, squeeze out excess water and add it to your wash pile. If you think washing nappies is going to take over your life - don't worry - it won't...if you can spare extra 10 mins a day and extra two loads/week you can do cloth nappies!
- 2. Don’t be too hard on yourself! As with starting anything new there is a learning curve. Leaks and nappy rashes occur in both reusables and disposable nappies! If it gets overwhelming – take a break (yes you are allowed to) and ask for help!
3. For toddlers and older children start with 6-10 nappies. You can buy a trial pack of preloved sanitised nappies for just $10!
- 4. Brand new nappies/inserts can take up to 6-8 washes before they reach peak capacity so change these nappies more frequently.
- 5. Newborns will need at least 30 nappies for full time use and are designed to fit from 3kgs-8kgs (depending on the nappy and baby this can be birth to 12 weeks) where as most One Size Fits Most (OSFM) nappies will fit best from 5 kgs onwards and for a single baby 24 nappies is ideal.
6. Most economical option for newborns is to use 30-35 terry flats or pre-folds with 6-10 newborn sized covers. Check out origami fold or why not try some pre-flats!
- 7. Try before you buy – Use a nappy library service. Rent a Newborn kit, Brand Trial kits or Night Nappy Trial kit. Nappy Hire allows you to find brands that will work for you, your baby and your budget when searching for which brands to buy. Rebates & Subsidies now available for residents of City of Cockburn, City of Vincent, City of Melville, City of Fremantle and Town of East Fremantle here in WA! More information available here: https://thenappyguru.com.au/nappy-library/
8. It’s risky to buy bulk packs of more than 6 of the same brand of nappy if you haven’t tried them before. Buy trial packs of different brands from a multibrand retailer instead. Your local council maybe offering rebates so grab a copy of discount codes to purchase nappies by attending a Nappy Guru workshop!
- 9. Invest in inserts – cheap inserts made of microfibre and have the least capacity but they are fast drying and fast absorbing. Cotton is a better alternative with fast absorption and higher capacity and fast drying. Hemp and Bamboo have the highest capacity however can be slow to absorb and takes longest to dry!
10. Two inserts are better than one! Pair a microfibre insert with cotton, hemp or bamboo insert for fast absorption and high capacity! Feel free to create your own “franken-nappy” by mixing different inserts with different covers to suit your baby’s output. Check out the various insert combinations here.
- 11. Change poo nappies straight away - this will reduce the chance of nappy rashes. Cloth nappies do not smell bad when soiled – so check with a quick smell test every so often.
- 12. Cloth wipes can save you over $500 for one child. Choose cotton flannelette or cotton velour or bamboo velour for the best wipes. Make wipes with old sheets/PJs/towels if you are handy with a sewing machine!
13. Use just plain water with cloth wipes. Wet as you go or have the wipes pre-wet ready to use for the day. Dry your baby’s skin completely to reduce chances of nappy rashes.
- 14. Flush solids down the loo (use a silicone brush or a nappy sprayer for sticky messes). A quick rinse under the laundry tap, wring out to stop drips and place in the “dry pail”.
15. Store used nappies in a “dry pail” an airy basket/laundry hamper that allows for air flow and reduces smell. Soaking isn’t recommended as fabrics, elastics and PUL starts breaking down with excessive soaking. Try Struckets for short soaks (less than 4 hours)!
16. Wash used nappies within 2-3 days after use in warm or hot water. Do a short wash called a Pre-wash (eg Daily wash or Quick Wash setting on your washing machine) with just nappies with half dosage of detergent to remove majority of the wee and poo. Then a second Longer wash called a Main wash (eg Cottons or Heavy Duty that goes for 2-2.5 hours) with full dose of detergent for a thorough clean. We can help you with your own Personalised wash routine to CleanClothNappies.com standards! Photo below is of drain water after each wash. Two washes in clean water will ensure you have nappies in pristine condition (think re-sale value) and will prevent nappy rashes, smells or stains in the long term!
- 17. Use a commercial detergent. Biozet Powder or Omo are very popular among cloth nappy users. Eco/sensitive detergents like Omo Sensitive or Eco Store powder works well if washed in a hot cycle (60 deg C) and will need stain removing booster like Sard or Vanish to help with stains. Sorry soap nuts will not work long term!
18. Look after nappy elastics and water proofing layers. High heat from sun or extensive use of dryers, concentrated bleach, soaking for long periods will cause delamination – where the water proofing layers separate from the fabric.; Unfortunately delaminated nappies cannot be repaired. Good news is that we can replace elastics for $5/nappy on most nappy brands - just ask!
- 19. Do not add fabric softeners to your wash – long term use can make nappies repel liquids. If inserts seem stiff, just pop them in the dryer on warm for a few minutes. Use of laundry detergents that has fabric softeners built in like Biozet is ok.
- 20. Drying nappies in winter? Use a cloth airer or peg hanger in a well ventilated room with a heater or fan already on - no extra electricity use required!
21. Nappy Rash? Use reusable microfleece liners. These stops stains setting on the nappy itself, easier for cleaning number 2s and keeps baby's skin dry. Buy fabric from spotlight and cut to approx. 30 cm x 13 cm and they don't frey. Wash liners and wipes in a mesh bag.
- 22. Avoid disposable bamboo liners – do not flush these down the loo. You must dispose of solids in the toilet and place the liner in landfill bin. These can cause redness due to moisture being retained on the skin. These however will be handy for day cares where nappies gets changed every 2 hours.
23. Hook & Loop or Velcro nappies are preferred at day cares and easy for anyone with dexterity issues or arthritis. Wash these nappies with wash tabs folded down or wing tabs stuck on to the tummy panel.
- 24. When fitting nappies on boys ensure the genitals are pointing down. More absorbency is needed in the front for boys more absorbency is needed in the middle of the nappy for Girls.
- 25. A good fit means less leaks – Click Here for one of the best fitting videos - it’s only 2 mins long - the best 2 mins spent learning how to fit nappies. Youtube is your friend if you want to know how to fit a specific brands or how to fit different types of nappies.
26. Don’t be surprised if your child toilet trains earlier with cloth nappies – look up “elimination communication” or which can be started from birth and practiced in a lot of countries and by different cultures. Find out more at godiapaerfree.com or nooneewilga.com
- 27. Buying second hand is great for your pocket and the environment – just check those elastics and do a sanitise wash before use. We can help with strip and sanitise (S&S) for you if you wish.
28. WARNING: Cloth Nappy buying can become addictive! Buy only what you need – You won't save money if you get sucked into buying latest in season prints each time they come out!
- 29. Try not to go on a spending spree before baby arrives – sometimes best laid intentions don’t work out but at least you can sell, give away or donate cloth nappies to keep them out of landfill!
30. Remember: Every single cloth nappy used is one less in landfill! You’ve got this! You are not alone, you can always reach out for help from other parents or myself any time!