Facts vs Fiction: Top 10 Reusable Cloth Nappy Myths BUSTED
It's Reusable Nappy Week, so in this article we're going to be focusing on some of the myths surrounding reusable nappies and provide come cloth nappy facts instead!
Reusable nappies are also known as real nappies, cloth nappies or modern cloth nappies. We'll use these words interchangeably in this article.
Here at Team Cheeky, all 4 of my children used real nappies - with two of these in nappies at the same time as they were 16 months apart! That was a lot of nappies!
We don't believe that using cloth nappies has to be all or nothing, from birth to potty training. Many parents don't use them full time, but only use them overnight because they are so absorbent. Or they use them while their child is at nursery, still doing their bit for the environment and saving money too.
Here's the Top 10 Myths around Reusable Nappies - Busted!
- Reusable Nappies are smelly
- Reusable nappies are gross
- Reusable Nappies are expensive
- You get more leaks with reusable nappies
- Reusable Nappies cause nappy rash
- Reusable Nappies are loads of hassle to wash
- Reusable Nappies are expensive to wash & dry
- Reusable nappies are just as bad as disposable nappies for the environment
- Reusable nappies are tricky to use out and about
- Nurseries and childminders won't accept reusable nappies
Reusable nappies aren't smelly as long as washing guidelines are followed. They're certainly less stinky than a nappy bin full of single use nappies!
Nappies only smell if they aren't washed properly which can create an ammonia build up.
If this has occurred, generally the nappies will need a tweak to the washing routine, or strip washing. The Nappy Lady has a great strip wash routine.
This one always cracks me up. I think it's because people think poo is gross (which to be fair it is a bit) but you've got to deal with it no matter whether you use cloth or disposable nappies. Poo is part of parenting.
In fact, even with disposable nappies, you're supposed to remove the poo into the toilet first rather than bag it up! Read the back of the packet...
'Disposal instructions: Excess soiling should be removed and flushed down the toilet. Do not flush the nappy down the toilet. Roll nappy into a tight ball using the grip tabs to reseal. Discard into waste bin.'
No, you don't end up with lots of poo in your washing machine if you use reusable nappies. The first wipe you do is always with your nappy liner and that removes most of the solid poo. If that's a disposable liner you can chuck it into the loo, however fleece liners are better. They are more comfortable for your baby (fleece or paper panties anyone?) and don't create as much waste either.
Simply hold one end of the liner in your hand and the other down the toilet. Flush the toilet and the poo will drop off the liner and flush away.
There's no doubt that there is an upfront cost involved in reusable nappies which can be off-putting. But overall, choosing reusable nappies is cheaper than disposables and will save you £303 for your first child.
- The cost of disposable nappies for one child amounts to £825!
- The equivalent for reusable nappies (including washing costs) is around £515.
- So you'll save approximately £310 for one child by switching to reusables.
If you have more than one child, obviously you'll save even more because the nappies can be passed on again!
It's possible to save money on the upfront costs of your nappies too.
It's also worth checking your local council as many offer vouchers to help parents make the switch. There's a full list of council nappy voucher schemes here.
Lastly, look for pre-loved nappies on your local selling pages such as facebook marketplace, gumtree or ebay. Many are still in great condition and can be used for years to come.
Wrong! You might get occasional leaks with either sort of nappy if you don't quite fit it correctly. One particularly spectacular poo crept out of the top of my son's nappy, out of his trousers and all over my friends carpet...
However generally reusable nappies are actually more absorbent than disposables.
In fact, parents who are struggling with overnight leaks in disposables often switch to reusables for overnight!
We've got a fantastic blog post on how to stop reusable nappies leaking. Generally it's a fit or an absorbency issue which is easily fixed.
'Lasts overnight with additional boosters. Only one we have tried to last 12 hours. Great value for money.' Trustpilot Review of the Cheeky Doodoo Nappy
In fact, research conducted by Bristol University shows that reusable nappies are no more likely to cause nappy rash than disposable nappies. If your child does have nappy rash, read our guide to dealing with nappy rash.
True nappy rash occurs when poo reacts with stale urine. If you change your baby regularly, they shouldn't suffer with nappy rash. My children only ever had nappy rash if they did a sneaky poo at naptime and then lay in it for an hour! No matter whether they were in disposable nappies or cloth nappies, would have made no difference.
Using a cloth nappy safe barrier cream will help protect your baby's bottom too.
There are other causes of nappy rash including allergic reactions to disposable wipes and thrush. None of these is more prone to cloth nappies than disposables.
This is probably the myth that we hear the most. 'We don't have time to do all that washing and drying'.
But in reality, it's just three extra loads of washing weekly. And as with MANY things for your baby, this is just getting into a new habit or routine. Which is actually quite straightforward:
The Nappy Alliance Washing Guidelines are:
- Prewash before first use
- Remove poo
- Dry pail (do not soak)
- Rinse Wash if heavily soiled
- Wash on a full wash cycle
- Dry without heat
For me, it's a lot MORE hassle to run out of nappies than it is to wash nappies in the washing machine at bedtime every other night!
Again, this doesn't need to be the case. Here's some tips on how to save money when washing and drying your reusable nappies.
You don't need specialist expensive 'eco' washing products. In fact, we recommend you DON'T use them as they don't clean as well, so are a false economy. After years of using ecoballs and having to throw my kids school shirts away as they were so stained, my Mum bought me a HUGE pack of big brand washing powder.
Literally a game-changer. Overnight, our clothing lasted so much longer and the same will go for your nappies too!
Wash every other day and if you have an overnight cheaper electricity tariff, set your washing machine to take advantage of it. We pay 7p per kw overnight instead of 40p per kw during the day, so this is a big cost saving if you can switch to one of these tariffs.
Line dry or air dry your washing where possible. We know that's tricky in winter, but it will save money overall.
In winter, I try to wash two loads of washing at once and only use the tumble dryer for one load. Easy drying things like the kids school uniform and sports gear goes on the air dryer.
DEFRA has finally published their long awaited updated comparison of the environmental impact of disposable nappies vs reusable nappies. This has clearly concluded that reusable nappies are more eco friendly, with lower carbon emissions also. It shows that:
- Reusable nappies produce 25% less CO2 than single-use disposable nappies
- If every child in the UK in nappies used reusable nappies instead of single-use nappies it would save the equivalent of 700 million car miles of CO2 – that’s nearly 3,000 journeys to the moon in a car!
- Single use nappies use around 98% more resources to produce than reusable nappies and take up to 500 years to decompose
- The environmental impact of production is over 90% lower for a reusable nappy than for single-use
- The environmental impact of the end of life disposal of a single-use nappy is nine times higher than for that of a reusable nappy
- Even when factoring in washing and drying, reusable nappies are still the best nappy choice for the environment
This is simply nonsense. It doesn't matter if you use a cloth or disposable nappy when changing your baby outside, the process is the same.
In fact, if you use reusable wipes, you'll find it's actually quicker and easier!
The only difference is that you'll need to take the dirty nappy home to deal with. This is simple to do and using a zipped wetbag ensures that it won't be stinking up the bus on the way home!
Nurseries are now required to accept cloth nappies. The Care Inspectorate advises that the diapers should be placed in bags and stored until they are collected.
In fact many childminders now welcome cloth nappies and wipes as it shows their commitment to sustainability.
'Love cheeky wipes, I am a childminder and find them so convenient and cost effective to use. So much so I bought a set for a friend who recently had her first baby! The ordering was easy and the delivery was quick. All in all an excellent experience thank you.' Sarah via Trustpilot
We hope you enjoyed this article about reusable nappies and it has encouraged you to think about switching to cloth nappies at least part time! We've got lots more helpful articles available here but if you need any further help or advice, please do contact us:
- What are the different types of cloth nappy?
- Are reusable nappies hygienic?
- How to clean reusable nappies
- What's the best nappy for heavy wetters?
About the author: Helen Rankin is a Mum of 4, who founded Cheeky Wipes, the original reusable wipes kit back in 2008 after disposable wipes caused her eczema to flare up. She went on to develop their range of 'Simple Reusables' to include period pants, reusable sanitary pads and finally reusable nappies. Her customer services team pride themselves on providing relatable friendly advice and just LOVE to chat pee, poo and periods all day long! The Company was recognised for their hard work in developing environmentally friendly products with the Queens Award in Enterprise for Sustainable Development in 2021.