Cloth Care Instructions and Information
Common Sense Considerations about cloth nappies.
Cloth Nappy awareness is on the rise in Australia thanks to some important university research and a huge change in eco-consciousness among parents. The Australian Nappy Association (ANA) was launched by some passionate businesswomen to unify and grow the nappy industry. This comes on the back of two landmark studies on the environmental impact of disposable and cloth nappies. One in 2008 by the UK Environmental Protection Agency and one in 2009 by the QLD University School of Engineering.
Local Councils throughout Australia are also getting on board supporting cloth nappy libraries and even subsidies in some cases, to acknowledge the waste reduction that can result in their local communities. Nappies are becoming serious business.
Meanwhile, in the home, parents are discovering that cloth nappies are a joy to use, saving them thousands of dollars and ending the urban myth that they are hard work. Cloth Nappies are also pretty cool fashion statement with many companies producing seasonal designs in line with fashion trends. In 2020, the ABC did a great report from parents who had different experiences with cloth nappies and costs which is really worth a read!
So if the cloth nappy buzz has not hit your parent circle yet, let us guide you on where do you start and how to set the trend in your local area. If you already use Cloth Nappies, then you are in for a treat. We hope you find more inspiration and discover new facts about those niggling questions you may still have. Grab a cup of tea and enjoy this Guide!
Whether you choose the 100% cloth nappy experience or a part-time usage, the biggest surprise for you will be the joy and deep satisfaction that comes from using them.
Using cloth nappies or reusable nappies as they are also known, bring your family huge financial savings and health benefits for your baby. These real and immediate benefits are compounded by the satisfaction of your lighter environmental footprint, a fact now finally supported by university studies and based on scientific research.
I love the look on the face of a first-time cloth nappy user. Their eyes bulge wide and a passion rises in their voice, it’s much easier than I imagined! They are so cute! That’s easy! So how does the idea of ‘hard’ remain associated with the word cloth if the majority of Aussie parents if this is the reaction of the “nappy changers”?
Working Parents find it just as fun and easy to use cloth nappies as stay at home parents’ so if you are having visions of piles of washing and time-consuming work, stay tuned. Its one of the many myths we can dispel for you.
Myths are easy to create. You plant an idea that people have no reference point for so they cannot disprove it and just wait a few decades for it to take hold as the ‘truth’. In the case of nappies, 95% parents have been using disposable nappies since the 1980’s so there are a lot of myths about cloth nappies perpetuated by people who have never tried them. It’s been 50 years since washing nappies was an impossible task. Memories of our grandmothers leaning over boilers or twin tub machines in the outside laundry are out dated. With the added weight of a highly successful billion dollar disposable nappy industry and their marketing machines, we can start to understand how the myth of hardship has taken hold for most parents.
Work at home mums are the driving force behind the cloth nappy industry. Inspired by the benefits of cloth nappies, modern designs, financial savings and environmental factors. The recently formed ANA believes in supporting families through education and resources as well as the provision of cloth nappy services and products. Empowering families with the ability to save money through the use of cloth is a major goal. 80% of cloth nappy retailers are run at home by parents just like you. 20% of the industry are manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers. They are run on passion more than resources and they rely on parents taking that first step of trying cloth, the conversion is natural from there.
There is no other baby activity or equipment used more in a home than the humble nappy! Yet most new parents do minimal or no research regarding the best nappy to use.
You change nappies 8-14 times a day for a newborn and 6 – 10 times a day as they grow older. Good research into options and costs will give you a lot of satisfaction and potentially save you up to $5000 per child.
Once you get interested in cloth nappies, you realise its about a lot more than the nappy! The use of baby basics as disposable has become normalized in the majority of the parenting world. It’s not just the nappy, it is the disposable nappy accessories like baby wipes. This disposable mentality leads sway to other practical items such as disposable breast pads, swimmers and change mats. This increases the dollar value of baby basics dramatically and is considered ‘normal’. As parents, it’s time we claimed back the right to reuse products and save money for our families.
Becoming a passionate cloth nappy user is as easy as starting. Soon, the myth of their burden will be the catalyst for a small financial and environmental revolution in your own home.
The Decision Making Checklist for your cloth nappies.
Step 1: Do some research and discover what is important to you.
Step2: Find a trusted retailer online or locally that you can worth with. You want to know you can go back and talk to them about any ‘problems’ that arise and to get solutions and support.
Step 3: Talk to all the caregivers in your home, it’s a lot easier if everyone is on board with reusable nappies.. Look outside the home for support too. Join a parent forum or contact a cloth library. Stay friendly with your retailer.
Step 4: Have a good set up at home and for when you go out so that the whole cloth nappy experience is one of joy and ease. Keep reading, we show you exactly how to do this in this guide.
PRO AND CONS OF FITTED NAPPIES VS FLATS
If you are starting to feel nervous, that’s okay! Its new and daunting for some. Hopefully you soon feel excited about cloth nappies. Take your time, enjoy the journey and change as quickly or as slowly as suits you.
ARE CLOTH NAPPIES REALLY BETTER FOR THE ENVIRONMENT?
All cloth nappies fall into one of two categories.
1 – Flats and Pre-folds; Which are the traditional Flat Nappies that you fold. Pre-folds are similar but have extra padding
2 – Fitted Nappies; or MCN as they are more recently known ( Modern Cloth Nappies) which are shaped like a disposable nappy and close with cloth tabs.
There are lots of styles, colours and variations within this second category but we can get to that detail later. Both styles of cloth nappies are used, washed and reused. Once you get into the nitty-gritty, you will discover words like AIO, AI2, PUL, Pockets and boosters. Discover these terms as you need to, not before you start, or you may get overwhelmed.
We have created a glossary at the end of this article ( or see link above in the index at the top of the page) that you can refer to on your cloth nappy journey. The Glossary is not meant to be read in one go! Just use it as a reference or you will get overwhelmed.
The common theme I observe as a eco retailer, is that people buy nappies to suit their personalities! So if you know yourself well, I would use this as a starting point. For example. Are you flexible? Do you like fixed systems? Is fashion important to you? Is organic and eco-friendly important to you? Are skin allergy’s as an issue? Once you know your main driver, this is your best starting point.
Questions that Help you Know What You Want
When you are looking on the internet or at baby expo’s for nappies, it can get very overwhelming unless you know what you are looking for. But how can you know that? This is new territory for you, right? Use this checklist before you research or shop. We recommend you refer back to this short questionnaire whenever you hit overwhelm during your nappy research and decision making.
To learn what you are looking for in a nappy, number these qualities in order of importance.
- Certified Organic
- Quality Brand
- Drying Time
These questions are a great starting point because they get you thinking about your priorities. If you come across a product that does not fit your top 3 ideals, move on…remember, there are over 100 nappy sellers out there and you can’t visit them all because then you will really hit overwhelm! We have a variety of nappies on our website for you to try, and if you have any questions about suitability, please dont hesitate to contact us!
Fitted Reusable Nappies (MCN’s)
Quicker to Put on Baby ( same time as a disposable nappy) Easier to use in Awkward Situations like the back of a car or with a restless toddler. Cost a little more than flats but worth the fun, fashion and time-saving. May have special washing instructions due to the myriad of fabrics now available. Man-made fabrics wick moisture away quicker than cotton. Certified Organic Natural Fabrics and Wool Nappy Covers available but less options available in these fabrics.
You may end up with one brand of nappy that you love no matter what the situation. Or you may have a few styles for different situations like I did. Again, this is usually a lifestyle decision. This method suits people who have a clear commitment to using cloth and they are ready to dive in once they have found a brand they love.
The ‘best nappy’ out there is different for every parent. Different styles suit different babies. You can look up cloth nappy reviews online but they vary widely so they are not always helpful.
My personal experience is that depending on the age of my baby, different nappies do seem to fit better. Babies grow fast. Babies bodies change. Your lifestyle and daily routine also changes. Some babies have cherub legs and some babies have thin legs. Quality brands cater for these kind of body changes.
If your baby has not been born yet, there are quality brands that we sell here at Morphing that can adapt to any shape so again, ask us for advice.
Are Cloth Nappies Really Better for the Environment?
Until recent university research examined this question, there has always been a reasonable question mark over the environmental impact of detergents and washing compared to disposable nappy production and waste disposal. The University of QLD lifecycle assessment study in 2009 by the School of Engineering, concluded cloth nappies has less impact.
“Overall, based on the four environmental indicators used in this study, home washed reusable nappies have the potential for the least environmental impact if washed in a water-efficient front loading washing machine in cold water and line dried. “
The Four environmental indicators examined were water resource depletion, energy consumption (renewable and non-renewable), solid waste and land area for resources (cotton for How many nappies will I need? How many nappies will I need?reusable nappies, softwood for disposable nappies). Accounting for as many variables as possible including usage rates and washing values. When following the best practice washing regime, cloth nappies were proven to have a less environmental impact.
How many nappies will I need?
This depends on whether you plan to use cloth full-time or part-time. It can also depend upon the brand you use. The age of your baby will also determine how many changes per day you need. We can certainly help you if you chat to us regarding this.
As a guideline, we will recommend between 25-35 Nappies if this is your full-time choice, depending on your washing routine, aged of baby and lifestyle.
The amazing thing about dealing with us here at Morphing, is that we are just as invested as you are in finding the most workable and economical system for long term nappy use. So trust the passion we have in our own products.
What do you need to buy if using Cloth Nappies?
The Cloth Nappy Shopping List
|Fitted Reusable Nappies (MCN’s)|
|15-30 if full time and depending on how often you want to wash
200 Nappy LinersOptional
Night Nappies or Booster Pads
6 – 8 Nappy covers
15-25 Cloth Baby Wipes
Manufacturer Recommended Detergent or pre-soak.
1 or 2 large nappy buckets
1 x small container for used nappy liners
1 x Nappy Change Mat/table for home
1 x Portable Change Mat and Nappy Bag for when out and about
What age do I start using cloth?
The newborn stage is a great time to start using cloth as it sets you up for eco-friendly parenting from the beginning and the best financial savings are to be had from day 1. Having said this, any age that inspires you to start is a good age.
Parents come to us at all ages, usually when they sick of stinking bins and rushing to the supermarket when they run out! Any age is a wonderful age to start using cloth and there are still thousands of dollars to save and a lot of joy to be had.
Some of the most successful cloth nappy converts are parents with babies at around age 3-12 months The second most common conversion age is toddlers which is when parents are thinking about toilet training. They change to cloth nappies for easier toilet training.
Parents having their second or third child are surprisingly the next group of converts. There is a myth that with more kids parents are looking for time so get disposables. In our experience, we find its more like…”omg, I don’t want to spend all that money on disposables again, I’m going cloth this time.”
How long will my nappies last?
Like most things in life, this depends entirely on the quality of the fabric and the brand you purchase. Those cheap $6 nappies may not be looking so great after a few months! The price of the $35-40 nappy suddenly makes sense when they keep their absorbency and don’t leak.
A second major factor is your laundry care. Follow the instructions and you will get a long life from your nappies.
Cloth Nappies seem expensive?
It is one of the largest false economies there is to compare a packet of disposable nappies that will be gone in a few days to a cloth nappy that will be used many times, even with the cost of detergents, water and electricity.
The style of nappy you choose will determine how much you need to spend. You can get a set of full time, organic cotton nappies for only $200 but you can spend up to $800 on fashionable fitted nappies. The extra cost of fitted nappies is worth the convenience to many cloth users. All these costs are thousands of dollars less than disposable nappies and their accessories.
Costs comparison chart for cloth and disposable nappies per child
Cost variation in brands. We encourage you to do your own cost comparison based on a specific brand once you have chosen a brand of nappies and accessories.
Nappy Covers and boosters
|$200 – 600
*Council Garbage Rates not included
|TOTAL COST $1000+||$6000+|
Isn’t washing a hassle? I don’t want to clean poo!
A thinner cloth Nappy Liner is laid inside your cloth nappy before use to ensure you can toss or flush the poo in the toilet. This leaves only wet nappies to wash. It is much simpler to wash a thin cloth nappy liner.
Washing Nappies are no different from baby clothes and bedding. I have timed cloth nappies to take 8 mins a day to organise and wash. While this may seem like a lot of time to some parents, it was often a joyful part of our daily routine with the right attitude. I would talk and sing with my baby and he would sit in my baby carrier on my chest as I hung nappies on the line. It was just part of our routine. A healthy happy attitude to washing as one of the many joys of parenthood certainly helps!
30yrs ago, a common gift for new parents was a nappy washing service. These are almost extinct today. Lavender NappyCare is the only dedicated nappy washing service in Australia. At the time of writing, they have 4 locations in NSW and you can find out more here www.lavenderia.com.au Based in Sydney, they cater for fitted nappies and Flats Nappies which is unique. Do type in Nappy Wash Service or Nappy Washing Services. I would also contact the Australian Nappy Association for the most up to date advice. They have great FREE tips for washing cloth nappies leaflet they can email you. If you want to approach your local Laundromat, you need to check they are following the national health guidelines for nappy washing.
A washing routine at home is one that is simple and organised looks something like this.
- Ideally wash every second day rather than every day ( not always possible in first 6 weeks)
- Nappies are placed in nappy bucket as they are removed from bub. ( same amount of time as throwing a disposable nappy away so no extra time added here)
- Every evening, Place Nappies in Machine according to instructions below. ( approx. 1 – 3 mins)
- Wash Nappies in Regular Cycle using water temperature and detergent as recommended
- First thing in morning, Hang Nappies on line. ( 2 – 5 mins)
- Afternoon: Remove Nappies from the line ( 2 – 5 mins)
- A good routine such as the night and day cycle described above is simple and adds only 5-10 mins to your day.
- Compared to shopping for disposables, there are approximately 8 extra minutes of time per day for cloth nappy laundering.
Quick Washing Tips
- Toss Poo in the Loo!
- Use a Nappy Liner to make the above easy.
- Pre Wash soiled nappies before main wash *short wash on 60 degrees*.
- Add Napisan to pre wash if necessary
- Have enough nappies so you only need to main wash every second day
- Line dry
- Full Sun will fade Nappy Patterns so turn nappies inside out on the line
- The Sun also is a natural bleach and will whiten nappies if minor stains are still evident after washing.
Washing: It needs to be simple and organised
Nappies need to be washed every second day using a dry or wet system. It is good to give yourself a day off washing with a well-organised system and enough nappies on hand. ( You can wash every day if you prefer, this way you need less nappies) Again, the Australian Nappy Association has some great fact sheets on this.
Dry Pail Method:
If you are using a disposable liner, throw the soiled liner in the bin and toss wet nappy into the bucket. If the nappy is soiled, toss the poo into the toilet, run cold water over the nappy, spray some stain remover on the nappy if you wish, and throw it into the bucket. Each day you can do a Pre wash on hot, using 1/2 cup of detergent and Napisan on a short cycle. After a few days you can do a main wash on warm with 1 cup of detergent. Hang in sun to dry.
The best place to find all the best detergents, and wash routines is the Clean Cloth Nappies Facebook page.
GLOSSARY OF CLOTH NAPPY TERMS
Here is a list of the lingo you may come across when researching cloth nappies.
All In one nappy (AIO)
A fitted nappy with the water-resistant layer sewn on the outside of the nappy, creating a one-step nappy that is quick to use. Usually take longer to dry but liked for the one step.
All-in-two Nappies (AI2)
Similar to all in ones except the booster usually snaps in and out easily. The purpose is to ensure faster drying times and to aid the absorbency of the nappy. The waterproof outer layer and the absorbent inner layer can be washed and dried separately
All in Three’s (AI3)
Three items to one nappy. A booster, the main nappy and a nappy cover.
Another brand name for hook and loop fastener, it is just like Velcro. It is used to fasten nappies rather than snaps.
It can dramatically damage some nappy fabrics so it is worth investigating if this happens to you. Best to look this one up as there is a lot to say. See our reference guide at the back of this article for links to more information.
An absorbent pad made from any fabric, which is added to a nappy to increase its absorbency.
Cloth Baby Wipes
A fabric square or rectangle, usually made from flannel, bamboo or terry, that is used instead of a disposable wipe to clean baby’s bottoms. You add water or use dry.
Cloth Nappy Library
A Modern Cloth Nappy (MCN) Library gives parents opportunity to trial a variety of nappies, primarily MCN’s and learning what works for their family. A great idea when there are so many choices on the market.
A professionally laundered and sanitized cloth nappy library service (ask if they meet Australian Laundry Standard AS/NZS 4146) is vital to protect your baby’s health, preventing transmission of disease.
Multiple layers of fabric in an hourglass shape. No folding required. Fits into most nappy covers.
A cover is used over some Modern Cloth Nappies, Fitted Nappies or traditional terry squares to stop wetness from wicking through onto baby’s clothing. Covers are usually made from a waterproof breathable fabric such as PUL (polyurethane laminate), wool or 100% polyester fleeces. Some people refer to covers as “wraps” or pilchers.
Another name for a booster – absorbent pad made from any material. Place inside a nappy to increase absorbency.
A no water solution for dirty nappies. Dirty nappies are placed in a dry bucket until washing day. 24 hours max is usually recommended to avoid staining and smelling. After dry pailing, nappies can be placed straight into the washing machine. A cold pre-rinse may be required, followed by an ordinary warm wash. This method is more environmentally friendly than soaking and is useful if water shortage is an issue. Always refer to manufacturer instructions before using this method. Dry Pailing will prolong the life of most nappy fabrics.
If you ever dry your nappies in a dryer, these balls are a natural fabric softener. Pure wool dryer balls or plastic ones prevent the need for conventional fabric softeners. Dryer balls claim to cut drying time by up to 25% per load. They reduce static and wrinkles.
Another name for Modern Cloth Nappies. It is a shaped nappy made from absorbent material. Usually fastens with snaps or VelcroTM type closures, and may include or require a separate water-resistant cover. Fitted Nappy styles may include AIO, AI2, Pocket or other styles.
Includes traditional cotton, muslin, bamboo or flannelette squares. They are usually folded and fastened with a pin or Snappi, and require a waterproof cover. Budget-friendly and fast drying times are the major benefits. No pins or snappi’s needed depending on the style of nappy cover you use.
Hook and Loop
A generic name for velcro, apilix and touch tape, which are all used as fasteners for nappy products.
This refers to a reusable nappy cover that can have cloth or disposable insert. Hence the term hybrid. You determine if you need a disposable or cloth insert depending on your activities that day. Disposable inserts are usually biodegradable but not always. Check with your retailer.
Insert (or ‘stuffer’)
A specialised absorbent booster pad used inside a pocket nappy to make it absorbent. Usually a pocket nappy term.
Lanolin is the grease from sheep’s wool. It is used to help water-proof wool nappy products. The wool absorbs the lanolin which increases it’s hydrophobic properties. You can buy specialised lanolin wool soakers in various brands or use lanolin from a tube diluted in water. Your Wool Nappy Retailer will have full instructions.
Designed to make cleaning cloth nappies easy and to reduce nappy staining. Poo is collected on the liner and you simply remove the liner for flushing poo, then place wet only nappies in your nappy bucket or machine. Disposable liners are made from materials like bamboo or corn-starch but then they are a disposable product that you need to find a solution for disposal that is responsible. Flushing is no longer recommended. Cloth liners are usually made from polar fleece, microfleece, polyester, wool or silk as these allow the moisture to wick through to the absorbent part of the nappy.
Knitted woollen long pants which are a also a nappy cover. They double as clothing sometimes depending on design. An outfit and nappy cover in one!
Modern Cloth Nappy (MCN)
This is a general description referring to any pre-shaped nappy that involves little or no pinning or folding. They include nappies like AIO,AI2 and pockets.
Nappy Bucket Deodoriser
Various Brands Available. Designed for Nappy Buckets. Absorbs strong odours.
Nappy cover (wrap)
A shaped water-resistant cover which goes over a fitted or flat nappy to make it waterproof. Fabrics may be fleece, PUL or Wool.
No or Few Nappies Required! Also known as elimination communication. This is the practice of training babies from birth to communicate their elimination needs. No nappies required. Worth researching and doing part-time or full time. from birth. The techniques can also be used for good toilet training at any age.
Nappy Pins are like a super large safety pin, usually with a coloured plastic top. They fasten Flat nappies and Pre-folds. Considered old fashioned and rarely used. Replaced by the Snappi TM
An MCN with extra padding built-in or as boosters to help a cloth nappy last all night. Bulkier but prevents night changes
One Size Fits Most.
One Size Fits All
Is a large waterproof bag that sits in side a nappy pail, allowing you to remove your soiled nappies with ease from a nappy bucket.
Sometimes this is used as a name for any nappy cover. Usually refers to the old style of nappy covers. PVC Non-breathing plastic pants used to cover fitted or terry flat nappies. Not recommended these days but still available for purchase in some supermarkets for about 50cents each. They are virtually disposable as they do not last very long. They tear easily.
Similar to a flat nappy with a thicker pad in the middle. Can be used as a newborn nappy and then a booster pad later on. Can be fastened with pins or snappi and requires a waterproof cover.
A shaped nappy made from an outer water-resistant layer, and in inner stay dry layer. A pocket opening at one or both ends allowing the absorbent material to be ‘stuffed’ inside the nappy.
This refers to a type of nappy closure. Looks like a button but is easily fastened and unfastened.
PUL Polyurethane laminate
You can say this as either P-U-L, or Pull). PUL is a soft clear coating of polyurethane that is chemically and heat applied to the back of fabrics resulting in a product that is both waterproof and has a small amount of breathability. The size 1MIL, or 2MIL etc refers to the thickness of the laminate. The laminate is applied to either cotton fabric or polyester fabric.
Refers either to Training Pants or a Nappy Cover. The latter allows you to pull on easily over any nappy. No clips or fasteners. Imagine undies with wide elastic and leg bands that are stretchy and easy to pull on.
Any cloth nappy. Flat or Fitted. Can be washed and reused.
Usually refers to Terry Flats. See below under T
Knitted woollen short-legged nappy cover.
Actually it’s a brand name but has made our way into our vernacular. Snappi® is made from a stretchable plastic which is T-shaped with grips on each end. These grips hook into the cloth nappy to ensure a snug but comfortable fit for baby. Snappi® makes using environmentally friendly cloth nappies easy! They replaced the old fashioned nappy pins about 25 years ago. A collective sigh of relief for parents!
A knitted woollen nappy cover. They are also referred to as woollies. Short-legged soakers are also referred to as shorties and long-legged onesies can be called longies.
A washing technique for when nappies suddenly seem to be less absorbent or smell. Only needed with some fabrics. Instructions can be found online using a homemade solution of detergent. Some new products are on the market now for strip washing as well.
Fabric pants are fitted like a nappy but not designed for absorbency, usually made from nylon and sometimes with a fabric lining. Designed to keep poo in the pants, not in the pool. A great alternative to disposable swim nappies which seem to be widely accepted as standard, even though they are a product that is only 15yrs old. Babies have been swimming for a long longer than that!
This is the traditional Nappy that has been around for a century. A square of Towelling designed to be folded in a variety of different ways to adjust the “wet zone” and fastened by pins or snappies. Nappy covers are required.
Usually refers to Terry Flats. See above.