Common questions about reusable nappies
- How many nappies will I need?
You only need ONE reusable nappy to get started, and that one nappy will make a huge difference to landfill waste. Just using one reusable nappy a day would save over 900 disposable nappies from landfill per baby approximately. However, to go full time you will need anything from 15 – 30 nappies. The wide variance in number comes down to the frequency of nappy changes and how often you want to wash them. If you want to go longer between washes (up to two days), then you will want to build up your stash to nearer 30 nappies. If you are happy washing at the end of each day, then you can get by with nearer to 15. My suggestion is to try starting with five reusable nappies, which is usually enough to go a full day, and then build your stash from there.
- What happens to the poo?
The poo question always comes up! First of all, before your baby starts on solid foods, their poo will be water soluble and can go straight in the washing machine. This is why you need that all important pre rinse on the wash to remove the worst of the soiling. (You may find with babies that are combi or formula fed, that their poo is slightly more solid and needs to be flushed down the toilet a little before washing). During and after weaning, poo becomes a bit more messy! The thing is though, poo is something you will have to deal with whether in cloth or not. Once it starts becoming more chunky, you will need to dispose of as much as you can down the toilet – using either a spray, a knife / spatula, tissue, or anything else that you think will work well. I personally used to use the shower to spray into a bucket, then flush away the water, but these days I just get as much as I can off with some toilet paper and that works just as well. It really depends on you, your baby, and your bathroom set up as to what will work best. The washing machine will do the rest!
- How to store reusable nappies when dirty?
You can use a number of methods for storing dirty nappies. Either a holy laundry basket that allows airflow, a lidded bucket to keep out any curious pets (!), or a zipped wet bag. I think wet bags are great as they can be put straight into the machine on wash day, are easily transported when travelling, and great for the change bag. Be mindful when using buckets and baskets that they will need to be cleaned between washes.
- What about when you are out and about?
The best thing is probably to first try using cloth at home and then take them out when you are ready, although there really is not much to it and its really no more daunting than using disposable with a brand new baby – if it is all you know it is all you know! The greatest thing about reusable when out and about is that they can be a great conversation starter – perfect for meeting other likeminded parents when at baby groups. The next best thing is that you will not have to experience half as many ‘poosplosions’ – a standard experience for disposable nappies – reusables are much better at holding in the poop.
You can keep your reusable wet wipes in a small wet bag – you can either keep them damp (as I like to) or you can wet them as you go, totally up to you. Some people carry a small spray bottle for this or rely on taps when out and about. Next pack anything from 2 – 5 reusable nappies, depending how long you plan on being out for, and finally your wet bag and any barrier creams you may be using, and you are all set. You might want to pack a fiddle toy for amusing older babies during nappy changes too! Reusables will likely make your change bag a little fuller than disposable, but you will get used to packing what you need, rather than enough for a long weekend every day!
- What is the best reusable nappy for me to buy?
This one is the hardest to answer! The best thing is to try a nappy you like the look of on your baby and see how you get on. You may just surprise yourself with what you like. Every baby has a different shape and will need different levels of absorbency, and they even change day to day! My best piece of advice is not to put all your eggs in one basket, don’t be loyal to one brand. Try lots of different styles and see what works best for you – and even then don’t focus only on those! Things will change as your baby grows and develops so its always a good idea to leave some wiggle room and have a few different things to try as time goes on.
- How do you cope with all the washing?
At most you will have one extra load a day and if you have more nappies you can get this down to a couple of washes a week. It is surprising how quickly you get used to it! Gone are the days of long soaks in the bath at the end of each day and hand washing. Hurrah!
- What washing powder and temperature should I use when washing reusable nappies?
You should use whatever powder you are currently using that causes no irritation to anybody’s skin and suits your budget, machine and water hardness. It is great if you can find a more eco friendly and cruelty free option and more and more brands are making an effort to be kinder to the planet. I use Waitrose non-bio with no issues. Powders are better than liquids, the jury is out on the bio vs. non bio debate, but some manufacturers will void warrantees if you use bio. I get a plenty good enough clean with non-bio powder so I am happy with that personally.
Most powders clean well at 40 but you may want to wash at 60 if you are sharing nappies, using an eco egg, or if you are fighting any viruses / infections. I like to do an occasional 60 degree wash but mostly wash at 40. I find this provides a good balance between keeping my energy use down, preserving the nappy fabrics and keeping them nice and fresh. As long as you have that pre rinse and a nice long wash cycle to follow you will keep your nappies clean.
I hope that helps to answer some of your questions on reusable nappies – let me know if I have missed any off!