This week is ‘Real Nappy Week’ (23rd to 29th April) so I have decided to dedicate a post to my experience using reusable nappies and maybe expel some myths.
“Cloth is too expensive!”
Yes, it is true that the initial cost of reusable nappies is expensive and not everyone will be able to throw £200 on a bunch of nappies, liners, and boosters. Thankfully, some councils offer incentives to families purchasing real nappies. You are also able to buy cloth nappies second hand at a cheaper price. Some friends and family may also put money towards your stash if you ask.
Furthermore I have done some number crunching. Obviously this is not an exact figure. I took the price of Aldi’s 84 pack size 4 Mamia ultra dry nappies of £4.49. I guessed an average of seven nappy changes per day so one pack will last 12 days. Assuming baby is in nappies for exactly two years, then you will spend £269.40 on disposable nappies. If you buy a more expensive brand of disposables then they will cost more. Smaller pack sizes also cost more per nappy and different nappy sizes have different prices so I tried to use middle ground figures. Newborns and heavy wetters also need changing more often.
So in conclusion it does depend on your baby whether cloth or disposables end up costing more. BUT if you have a second, third, fourth, etc child then you will definitely save money as you can reuse the cloth nappies! Even if you only use one cloth nappy per day or only use them on one day per week you will save money.
“Cloth is messy!”
Changing cloth nappies on a baby is just as messy as changing a disposable nappy. If baby has an explosive wet poo then it won’t be glamorous in either situation. The downside I first discovered with cloth is that you cannot roll the dirty wipes up with the soiled nappy. You need to be near a bin, which is not always available depending where you are. This problem can also be solved if using reusable wipes too because those can be thrown into the nappy bin/wet bag along with the cloth nappy.
“Poo in cloth nappies is messy!”
Newborn poops are usually small and easy to contain and chuck away. It is when baby starts having solids and the poos become less runny but also not quite solid which are less fun to deal with. When the poops come out in a solid lump then there is such a good feeling being able to just flip the cloth nappy over and dump the poop into the toilet to flush away!
“Cloth nappies stink!”
Reuseable nappies will smell if they are not washed quickly enough or well enough. First problem is solved with regular washing and second problem is solved with a strip wash. If you wash nappies correctly in the first place (not too much detergent, not too high temperature, long rinse cycle) then hopefully you can avoid having to do a strip wash.
With regards to storing dirty nappies, they smell just as bad as disposables. Cloth nappies are usually stored in a plastic tub when they are waiting for wash day and this tends to keep odours in. I do not store any soiled disposable nappies in a special pail, they go in an open bin so if they linger too long in the bathroom then there is a definite pong! In this case, cloth nappies actually stink less!
“Cloth nappies are not convenient outside of the home!”
Honestly, cloth nappies are a bit of a faff when you are out and about. Cloth nappies are much bulkier than disposables so they do take up much more space. Secondly, you need to continue carting them around after changing baby and wet nappies expand so they take up even more space afterwards. Once you get used to it though, it doesn’t matter as it is just part of having a baby.
I have read that some people use eco nappies on days out or for traveling because they have the convenience of a disposable, but the green credentials of being biodegradable. Unfortunately, eco nappies are even more expensive than cloth nappies… but planet Earth is worth it!
“Washing and tumble drying cloth nappies is worse for the environment!”
Firstly I’d like to address the tumble drying comment because most manufacturers do not recommend tumble drying nappies, and if a parent must do so, then it is done on a low setting. Tumble drying can shorten the life of a cloth nappy so it is generally avoided and therefore not a worthwhile argument about energy usage.
With regards to washing cloth nappies, Eve from Baba+Boo wrote an interesting article about the amount of water that is used during the manufacture of disposable nappies. Disposable nappies are ‘made of pulp and plastics’ and overall use ten times more water during production than during 2.5 years of washing cloth nappies. That figure is astoundingly horrific and makes me feel much better about washing my reuseables. It is also worth throwing in towels and sports wear into the nappy wash to fill out the drum and ensure you are not doing a small wash just for six nappies. Modern washing machines are also efficient at weighing out the load and using the appropriate amount of water for the wash.
“It’s too much effort to use cloth nappies!”
There is no difference between using cloth and disposable. You put them on at the same time and in the same way. Yes there is the extra step of washing and hanging out the nappies to dry but surprisingly it’s a step I do not mind. I do not feel like I am doing lots of extra washing.
Furthermore, you know when you have to change baby’s nappy but it’s about one hour before bedtime and you know you will want to put a fresh nappy on overnight? Well with cloth you need not feel like you are wasting a nappy as it’s simply washed and reused. When using a disposable for a small amount of wee and then chucking it in the bin, you are adding to the thousands of nappies at the landfill. Think about how many nappies you use in a week and imagine that pile sitting around for hundreds of years before they finally decompose.
Hopefully I have swayed you into agreeing that cloth nappies are not so bad to use. It’s totally worth giving them a try! Have you had any good/bad experiences with resuables?