Why Use Modern Cloth Nappies?
Modern cloth nappies are designed to simplify the process of changing baby’s bottoms, making nappy changes easy for the most cloth challenged among us. They have gathered legs and waists to prevent leaks. They are trim enough to fit under most clothes and, most importantly, they are designed to be super absorbent so your baby is comfortable and dry. There are so many benefits to using cloth nappies and we know that once you’ve tried them you’ll think so too.
For your baby
Cloth nappies are made from materials that are very breathable, which means LESS nappy rash and lower skin temperatures. Would you rather wear cotton underwear, or plastic???
No contact with chemicals and absorbent gels. Many babies can be allergic to these gels not to mention their mandatory disuse in tampons due to their link with TSS.
Softer material means a more comfortable baby. Really why settle for ‘feels like cloth’ when you can have the real thing.
Looking great – these nappies compliment any outfit and look fabulous with a singlet in our hot summers.
Your child may toilet train earlier as they can feel when they have done a wee and we don’t need to add extra chemicals to our nappies to make this happen.
For the environment
Disposable nappies take 500 years to break down in landfill.
The average baby in disposables will create 1500 kg of waste from birth to toilet training.
Cloth nappies do not mean that much extra water used for washing if you dry pail and wash your nappies with your child’s clothing.
The making of some brands of disposables actually uses more water and trees than the making and washing of cloth nappies over the nappy wearing period.
For your pocket
It is estimated that a child using disposable nappies from birth to toilet training will cost between $3000 and $4000. Multiply this by the number of children you have and it is an extraordinary amount.
An estimated cost of a full-time cloth nappy package including washing liquid, nappy buckets, liners etc. ranges from $650 – $900+, a saving of around $1000 a year when compared to using disposable nappies. Plus, if you purchase your modern cloth nappies as part of a package deal, then these initial start up costs are even less.
Also remember that disposable wipes soon add up in cost – try using cloth wipes (made from cotton or bamboo) and see how well they work and how few you need to use (as compared to using disposable ones). Simply throw in the wash with your nappies.
Prefolds consist of layers of fabric sewn together to make a flat ‘nappy’. The layers of fabric are more concentrated in the middle third of the fabric to create a much trimmer yet more absorbent form of the terry square. We stock prefolds that are made from super soft cotton they are gentle on bottoms yet absorbent and trim, as well as prefolds made from bamboo and hemp for even greater absorbancy. Prefolds are great at any time, however they are very useful in the newborn period where you are changing more frequently. They can be used as boosters and inserts later on also. Remember that they require a cover!!
Fitted nappies are made of absorbent material such as bamboo, hemp or cotton (velour, terry or flannelette). These nappies are shaped and fitted with elastic so they go on like a disposable and keep everything where it should be, especially at the messiest times. Fitted nappies are perfect for heavy wetters, night-time and long car trips. They are also good in the first few months when you may need two barriers of protection against those charming newborn poos. All fitted nappies require a cover to prevent clothes and bedding from becoming damp.
Pocket nappies are shaped and elasticised, however they consist of an outer shell of laminated fabric (PUL or TPU) that is waterproof and breathable, thus allowing the skin to breathe, and an inner layer of microfleece or cotton velour to draw wetness away to the core. They have an opening in the back or the front (depending on the brand) where you add “stuffers” or “inserts” made from hemp, bamboo or microfibre. Pocket nappies are quick drying due to the ability to separate the inserts from the covers and come in a fantastic array of colours and styles including our speciality: the one size fits all. Pocket nappies are a complete nappy so they DO NOT require a cover and all our pocket nappies come complete with the inserts so there are no hidden costs.
All in One nappies (AIOs)
All in Ones are the bees-knees of modern cloth nappies with an outer layer of PUL (waterproof fabric) that allows for breathability, as well as varying layers of hemp, bamboo or microfibre sewn inside the nappy and topped with microfleece. This means that there is no need to stuff them. These nappies are great to grab and go, however they do have longer drying times (best to dry them inside out). Some of the all in ones we stock (i.e GroVia) have the layers sewn in such a way that allows for quicker drying times, whilst other all in ones have a pocket as well as the inserts sewn in so that you can boost up the nappy if needed.
These nappies have an insert that ‘snaps-in’ to the waterproof cover, meaning that if the cover hasn’t gotten wet, then you can simply unsnap the wet/dirty insert and snap in a clean one. The inserts can be made from organic cotton, bamboo or hemp, depending on the brand of nappy.
Like all things there is a terminology to modern cloth nappying that you will begin to pick up as you go along. Here are some of the most common terms used:
Sized nappies are available in newborn, small, medium and large sizes. These nappies are great as they fit your baby perfectly at each of their growing stages, with no extra bulk; however you will need to purchase larger sizes as your baby grows. The newborn sized nappies fit premmie or very small newborns really well.
These nappies are designed to grow with your baby from birth (approx. 4kg) to toilet training (approx. 15kg). These nappies give the ultimate in economy, especially when used on more than one child; however they can be quite bulky on newborns. Some nappies adjust with snaps at the front (e.g. Happy Heiny, GroVia, Bear Bottoms, Bumboo, PopIns), some adjust with snaps at the back (e.g. Little Britches), whilst others fold down in the front for the newborn stage (e.g. Bumwear).
Insert or Stuffer
An insert refers to a wad of fabric, microfibre, hemp or bamboo, which is placed inside a pocket nappy. The insert is the absorbant part of the nappy. Some inserts are one size meaning they are intended to be used in a one size nappy and as such have snaps to fold open to make them bigger. All the nappies that are sold at The Nappy Bucket come with inserts included in the price.
A booster, on the other hand, is a wad of fabric that can be placed on top of the nappy’s inner or outside of a fitted nappy between the nappy and cover. Boosters can also be placed inside the pocket of a pocket nappy. The purpose of a booster is to boost the absorbancy of the nappy. Generally, boosters are made of hemp or bamboo as microfibre should not be in direct contact with the baby’s skin due to its drying effects.
Liners are used on a nappy’s inner to catch any solid mess. Liners can be washable (usually microfleece) or flushable (biodegradable paper). Silk liners can be used for children with extra sensitive skin or aversions to human-made fibres.
How many nappies do I need?
The number of nappies you need depends on the age of your baby, how often you wish to wash and if you want to use cloth full time or part time.
For example a newborn will need more nappy changes than an older baby and you may not want to wash as often in those first few weeks. A less expensive option for these early days is the use of prefolds and covers. You may require about 18 – 24 prefolds and about 3 – 4 covers (you don’t need as many covers as prefolds because you don’t need to change the cover each time you change the prefolds). You need more prefolds in your stash than you do modern cloth nappies, merely because they aren’t as absorbant. If you would like to boost their absorbancy, and have longer between changes, then you can try bamboo prefolds or adding a booster inside the prefold.
Most babies need around 6 – 8 nappy changes per day as well as a night nappy. If you are using cloth part time, and you wash every other day, then 12 nappies on hand will get you by. A full time stash usually consists of 18 – 24 nappies. However you don’t need to purchase these all at once, most people find it easier to build up their stash gradually, finding the nappies that suit them best along the way.
We also like to recommend you try different types and brands of nappies, such as pockets, snap-ins all in ones and fitteds, so you know which system works best for your family. If you are set on using one size nappies, then trying out the different brands we sell is also a good idea, as each baby is different and so each nappy will perform differently depending on the child.
Have a look at our packages page for some great deals on different types and numbers of nappies.
How do I care for my nappies?
Modern Cloth Nappies do not require much extra time or effort; you don’t even have to soak them if you don’t wish to. Let’s face it; the washing machine does most of the hard work for you. Simply remove the nappy from your baby flush any solid waste down the toilet and store your nappies in a nappy bucket with or without water (our manufactures recommend without water i.e. dry pailing).
While you don’t necessarily need any special tools to help you clean any of the solid waste off your nappies, we do recommend using a nappy sprayer to help you with this chore. This is a high pressure hose that attaches easily to the side of your toilet (no need to get a plumber in) and is so easy to use; we would be lost without ours!! We now stock the Nappy (Diaper) sprayer, so check it out.
When you have a bucket full of dirty nappies throw them straight into the machine with half as much detergent as you would normally use. Though, if you are using a detergent that is designed especially to use with cloth nappies e.g. Rockin Green, Little Bubbles, then use the amount it says to on the packet. Use a detergent that contains NO bleaches, enzymes, fabric softeners etc. Then hang on the line, or pop them in the dryer (most of our products are dryer friendly, however remember to use a low setting), and your nappies are ready to go. Washing in cold water is fine, and the sun is a natural sanitiser, so make the most of it while it is shining. You may want to do an extra rinse cycle when washing, particularly if you have a big load of nappies, that way you know the nappies are getting washed in clean water.
Washing modern cloth nappies is a simple process. We recommend ‘dry pailing’ – placing your used nappies into an empty nappy bucket with a lid, which can then be emptied directly into the washing machine when you have a load ready to go. Nappies should be washed every 2 – 3 days, as leaving them too long in the nappy bucket may increase the growth of fungi and bacteria and decrease the life of your nappies. Then simply follow the rest of the instructions for a super clean:
Remove as much solid material as you can before washing your nappies.
Remove the inserts (if necessary) from your nappies.
You may choose to do an extra rinse cycle first, but this isn’t always necessary. Doing a rinse cycle before the wash cycle does ensure however, that the nappies are not being agitated around in dirty water, and that the detergent is acting on the nappies, rather than just the water.
Wash on cold (or warm) with about half the recommended amount of detergent (remember though if you are using a detergent especially designed for cloth nappies e.g. Tiny Bubbles or Rockin Green, then use the recommended amount on the box).
Rinse well to ensure all detergent is removed from nappies.
You can place your nappies in the dryer (on warm cycle, never on hot), though we recommend you just hang them out on the line to dry. This helps to remove any stains that may have appeared on your nappies.
Always ensure that the water level of your rinse and wash cycles are set higher than your nappies. This is particularly important in front loaders, where there is not as much water being used.
Remember to always do a prewash of your new nappies, as this will remove any residue on the fabric from manufacture that may affect their performance. Nappies with microfibre or microfleece need to be washed at least once before use. Nappies with hemp, bamboo or organic cotton need to be washed between 2-5 times before they are ready, as do prefolds. The more you wash the nappies, the better they will perform for you.
What to look for in a Detergent?
Finding the right detergent to use with your nappies is important, as it will impact on the performance of your nappies. Don’t choose any detergent that contains fragrances, perfumes, fabric softeners or chlorine bleaches. And just to be clear, soaps are not detergents, and soaps are generally not suitable for washing nappies.
Detergents we recommend – Tiny Bubbles, Rockin Green (not for GroVia nappies), Eco Store fragrance free, Planet Ark/Aware, Earth’s Choice (not for GroVia nappies as contains oils), Amolin and Purity.
Detergents to avoid – Natural soaps often contain various oils. These should NOT be used because they will leave a residue on fleece, causing it to repel liquids. Never use fabric softener of any kind on reusable nappies. Liquid fabric softeners leave a waxy residue which causes fleece to repel urine and decreases the absorbency of other diapers. Don’t use Radiant, Duo, Bio-zet, Cold Power, Drive, Omo. For GroVia nappies in particular, avoid using soap nuts as these contain natural oils that will affect the performance of your nappies.
[These are only a few examples of what to/not to use on your nappies. If in doubt, ask us for more info].
Leakage and smells
Build up refers to residue left by detergents, fabric softeners, and other substances used to clean nappies. If you notice a decrease in the absorbency of your nappies, or that they are starting to ‘smell’, build up may be the culprit. Strip washing is the process of removing residue from your nappies. To strip wash your nappies:
Ensure that you have already washed the nappies, so you are strip washing clean (and dry) nappies.
Run a cold rinse or soak cycle with no detergent.
Run a hot wash cycle with a drop of dishwashing liquid and look for suds.
If suds appear, repeat hot wash until no suds are seen.
Do a final rinse cycle.
Tumble dry the nappies in the dryer on low or hang to dry. The sun is a natural sanitiser and bleacher, so is perfect for removing any stains you may have on your nappies.
Always make sure nappies are completely dry before using them again.
Half a cup of bicarb soda (in place of washing detergent) can also be used in your wash to remove any smells.
Strip washing is not recommended on a regular basis, as it can damage your nappies. If you are continuously having to do strip washes, then go back to how you are washing your nappies in the first place…are you using too much detergent?…do you need to do an extra rinse cycle?…are you washing your nappies frequently enough?…are you making sure they are completely dry before using them again?…do you need to rinse the urine off before placing them in the nappy bucket?
If you have performed a strip wash, and your nappies aren’t leaking anymore, but you get a strong ‘wee’ smell everytime your baby does a wee in the nappy, then you may still have urine residue in your nappies. This won’t cause your nappies to leak, but it will cause them to smell! This problem can be resolved by trying the following:
Rinse the nappies a lot. This doesn’t mean doing extra rinses, rather it means making sure there is enough water in the machine when you are washing the nappies. One rinse with a sufficient amount of HOT water should be fine.
Line dry your nappies if you can – the sun does wonders for stains and smells!
These need to be hand washed and laid flat to dry. They also need to be lanolised to retain their natural water repellent properties. DO NOT PLACE WOOL COVERS IN THE DRYER, THEY WILL SHRINK. Have a look at the great range of wool lanolising sprays and washes we have for sale.
Advice on these covers varies, however if it is only a cover then generally you can cold wash and line dry. Some manufactures allow tumble drying of nappies with PUL outers, however this MAY reduce the life of the nappy. If you are tumble drying nappies with PUL outers try and remove them as soon as they are dry (i.e. 5 – 10mins), and only use a low heat setting.
Other Washing Methods
Some nappy companies recommend washing in a solution of vinegar and tea tree oil, however this is not recommended on some non-natural fibres or PUL. Soap nuts are great to use when washing your nappies, however these shouldn’t be used on the GroVia nappies as the natural oils in the nuts affect the absorbancy of the inserts.
Soaking your nappies
Never soak your nappies in Napisan, as this is a very harsh product and will, over time, destroy the PUL and elastic in your nappies. If you have stains on your nappies, hang them out in the sun for a while, or use Eco Store Soaker. You can also squirt a small amount of lemon juice on the stain and then hang out in the sun.
If you are having problems with your nappies leaking, first check that the nappy fits correctly around the leg area and, if the nappy is new, that you have pre-washed the nappy a couple of times (5 – 6 times for bamboo nappies and those with organic cotton inserts). If you are still having problems, you may need to do a strip wash of your nappies, to ensure that the detergent hasn’t built up on your nappies.
Here at The Nappy Bucket we sell a wide range of modern cloth nappies, with each brand having different warranty periods. However, there are some ‘rules’ that are common to all of the nappies that we sell, if you follow these then you will get the best out of any of the nappies you choose to purchase. Please contact us if you require further information about a specific brand, or if you are having any problems with goods you have purchased from us.
What will void any brand of warranty
Washing instructions not followed.
Use of temperatures over 60C.
Use of detergents containing enzymes or fabric softener.
Use of Nappisan.
Use of any non-approved nappy rash creams (don’t use creams that contain cortisone or zinc based products as these will cause your nappies to repel and not function properly. If you do need to use such creams, then place a flushable liner between your baby’s bottom and the nappy. We recommend using natural nappy rash creams that have been designed especially for using with cloth nappies e.g. GroVia Magic Stick or Punkin Butt Bottom Balm).
Use of bleach, oxyclean, or any other caustic substances.
Remember – if you have any problems with your nappies after you have purchased them from us, please get it touch and we will discuss what options you have. In all cases, nappies won’t be replaced due to repelling, staining, leaking, wear and tear or sizing issues. Some nappy brands (e.g. PopIns, GroVia) recommend that you don’t (even on a low setting) tumble dry the nappy covers, though for other brands it is OK to tumble dry both the covers and the inserts on a low setting (never hot). Always check, either with us, or on the nappy label, before tumble drying any of your nappies.
Facts about wool
Isn’t wool hot??
Actually it’s not. Wool has the unique ability to act as a breathable insulator, meaning it helps keep the body at a constant temperature and does not conduct heat. This is due to the small pockets of air formed by the fibres of the fabric.
Why use wool covers??
Wool covers are breathable and environmentally friendly. This makes it the perfect material to use for babies with sensitive skin. Clean, lanolized wool covers will absorb 30% of their weight in moisture before they feel wet. The lanolin on the wool interacts with the ammonia in urine to form a soap, making the wool covers self-cleaning. This means that you don’t need to wash them every day. Just hang them out to air dry and about once a week hand wash them in a lanolin rich soap, wool wash or use a lanolin spray. Have a look at the great range of wool washes and lanolin sprays on sale here at The Nappy Bucket.
Can I use nappy rash cream or ointments?
Some nappy rash ointments cause nappies to repel and not function properly. If you mistakenly get nappy rash ointment on your nappy, wash your nappies normally and then apply some dishwashing liquid to the affected area. Scrub the affected area with a toothbrush or other bristle brush. While this is a suggested method, it may not always work. Nappies affected by nappy rash ointments are not covered by any warranty. If you require a nappy rash cream, use a natural based product, never one that contains cortisone or zinc based products. If you need to use these ointments, make sure you put a liner (either flushable or wool) between your baby’s bottom and the inner layer of the nappy.
Some nappy rash creams have been designed especially to use with modern cloth nappies. These include: GroVia Magic Stick, and CJs BUTTer products.
Can I use vinegar in the wash?
Vinegar was originally used in cloth diapers to “soften” them up and possibly as a disinfectant many years ago. However modern cloth nappies do not need any further softening and with detergents that are effective and hot water no additional disinfecting is needed. Vinegar can also cause a stink problem if any is left on the nappies.
Tips and Tricks
You can soak your nappies in a nappy bucket with half a cap of washing liquid (the baby stuff) and then pour the whole thing into the washing machine and put it through on a normal cycle. That’s the only washing liquid you will need to use! Alternatively, you can place your nappies in a dry nappy bucket (after removing the solid waste into the toilet) and then simply place these into the washing machine when it is time to wash, remembering to use only half of the normal quantity of detergent.
If your nappies start leaking for no apparent reason, you may have a build up of detergent on them. You will need to do a ‘strip wash’ to help with this problem. This is easy to do, all you need to do is do a hot wash with a drop of dishwashing detergent in it, and repeat rinse. If there are any suds, then repeat hot wash with dishwashing detergent until no suds appear.
Ammonia smell is caused by a combination of detergent residue and urine. Run your nappies through the wash again and be sure to use the manufacturer’s recommended detergents. Ammonia smell can also be caused by diet of the child and the acidity of the urine. Wash as quickly as possible if you find this is chronic. But keeping your nappies as residue free as possible is the key. You may wish to wash your nappies in half a cup of bicarbonate of soda; this also helps remove any smells.
Always make sure that your nappies are completely dry before using.