Frequently asked questions about cloth nappies -It can be a bit confusing when you first start out! Here are some frequently asked questions.
Why should I use Cloth Nappies?
Before a child potty trains at about 2 ½ – 3 years old they will need about 6,000 nappy changes- so your decision to use cloth or disposable nappies is an important one. If you decide to use cloth nappies part or full time you are helping your wallet and saving thousands of nappies from sitting in landfill for generations to come.
For more information see Go Real.
How many nappies will I need?
The amount of nappies you will require can only be decided by you, it will depend firstly which nappy system you choose and secondly how often you decide to wash your nappies.
The amount that suits most people however is around 20-24 nappies, if you are using two part nappies you will need one cover per 4 – 5 nappies. This amount will allow you to wash your nappies every 2 – 3 days and to dry them naturally.
If you are using pocket nappies you may find it useful to have more inserts than nappy shells as the outers dry very quickly and that will allow you to have more nappies to use while the other inserts are drying.
My preferred option is pocket or all in one nappies for day time use and fitteds with a wrap for night time. I find that 20 day time nappies (pockets/all in ones) and 4 fitted plus 2 wraps is a good starting place.
Do cloth nappies need to be changed more often?
During the day, you should change your baby every 2 - 4 hours, depending on baby's age and how heavy a wetter they are, but always straight after a dirty nappy. If you use a nappy with hemp or bamboo which increases the absorbency the baby can stay in the same nappy overnight. Cloth nappies are usually changed more often but surely that is a good thing?
Can washable nappies help nappy rash?
Nappy rash can occur whether you are using cloth or disposable nappies if the baby is left in a nappy for too long. Other reasons can include teething when the PH balance of the urine is stronger causing irritation, a change in diet or the use of harsh baby wipes on sensitive skin. The best way to deal with nappy rash is to change nappies frequently and to let them have as much ‘nappy free time’ as possible. Using washable wipes is another way of using less chemicals on sensitive skin.
Don't the nappies smell while waiting to be washed?
A lot of people ask this and the truthful answer is if you use disposable nappies they more often than not sit in the rubbish bin for a lot longer (2 weeks before rubbish collections in most places) and smell a lot more because of the reaction between the chemicals and the urine. With cloth nappies the contents are flushed away and then put in a dry bucket or wet bag and the smell is contained.
What is the best way to wash and dry my nappies?
Before storing the nappies ready for washing, make sure you have removed the liner (if using them) and have flushed as much of the solid contents away in the loo as possible.
Remove any inserts from the nappies and fold back the laundry tabs (hook and loop/aplix nappies) You can store them dry so there is no need to soak.
When you have a full load add the nappies to your washing machine and put on a cold rinse first. Most nappies can be washed between 40 and 60 degrees. The amount of detergent required depends on your washing machine and type of water. Best results can be achieved by using between half the recommended dose of detergent and a full dose. It was frequently recommended to use half a dose or less however many people report a 'stink'. If you consider that cloth nappies are probably the dirtiest item that goes into your washing machine why would you use less than half a dose? You can use non-bio or biological detergent, you can use powder or liquid detergent it is a personal choice and you probably know what works best in your machine already. We do not recommend that you use any fabric softener when washing nappies as it coats the fibres and makes them less absorbent.
When it comes to drying line drying is the most environmentally friendly option as well as economical!
Nappies and inserts can be dried inside on an airer or next to a radiator but bamboo should not be dried touching a radiator. Most inserts and some nappies can also be dried on a low heat in a tumble dryer. Excessive high heat in a tumble dryer can affect the life of the PUL, elastic and Velcro but is okay on a low setting. Always check the washing and drying guidelines of your nappies before washing and drying.
Many manufacturers do not recommend the use of sanitisers such as Napisan as they will shorten the life of your nappy.
How can I remove staining?
If your nappies have some stubborn stains that can not be washed out the very best way to remove them is to hang your nappies out in the sunshine. The sun acts as a natural bleaching agent without any need for any chemicals or extra laundry products. You can also put your nappies on a windowsill to catch the sun light. To minimise staining you can use fleece or flushable liners.
I've been reading some forums and there are lots of acronyms - what do they mean?
AIO - all in one
BTP - birth to potty
OSFA - one size fits all
MCN - modern cloth nappies
CBM - cloth bum mum
EC - elimination communication
PT - part time or potty training
OTB - on the bottom/bum
other acronyms may relate to brands such as LL - Little Lamb, BG - Bum Genius, EH - Ella's House