Nappy Advice Questions

Frequently Asked Questions about Cloth Nappies


1) Why should I use Cloth Nappies?

During infancy your baby will spend approximately 25,000 hours in nappies and need about 6,000 nappy changes- so your decision to use either cloth or disposable is a significant one. Put briefly, by going ‘cloth’ you are making a positive impact on your babies’ health and well-being, your wallet and your planet. See this article on the environmental impacts of disposable nappies for more information.


2) How many nappies will I need?

There is no easy answer to this. It depends on the type of nappy you opt for, the age of your child, whether you’ll be using cloth full or part time and how often you intend to do a nappy wash. The general rule of thumb however is that you will need 20-25 nappies, with one cover per every five nappies for two-part nappy systems. You can check out this great Guide to Reusable Nappies over on The Nappy Gurus for more information.


3) How easy are cloth nappies to wash?

They really are as easy as one, poo, three! There is no need for soaking, or boiling, nor any need to even touch them while putting them in the machine if you don’t wish too! See the Nappy Guru® guide to washing reusable nappies for more information.


4) Won’t the nappies smell while waiting to be washed?

This is a common concern, but when a disposable nappy is removed it sits in a bin in just the same way, for probably a greater length of time! You will most certainly find that a bucket full of disposable nappies smells far worse than a bucket full of reusable nappies. The aroma generated when urine interacts with the chemicals in disposable nappies is incredibly strong, you simply do not get this with cloth nappies.


5) How do I dry the nappies and do I need a tumble dryer?

The best way to dry cloth nappies is out in the sunshine, however when the great British weather does not permit, a clothes horse or tumble dryer will do the trick.

A handy hint: a dry towel put in the dryer with the nappies will speed up drying time!

If you manage ok without a tumble drier for your regular laundry, there is no reason why your reusable nappies would be any different. Pocket style nappies with microfibre inserts such as the Alva Baby are the best bet if you do not have a tumble drier, as all the parts can be separated for super fast drying.


6) Do washable nappies cause nappy rash?

Nappy rash most often occurs when a babies nappy is changed too infrequently, be it a disposable or a cloth nappy. Other factors include teething stages where the pH balance of the urine is altered causing irritation, a change in diet or the use of harsh baby wipes. Change nappies frequently, give the skin as much ‘air time’ as possible, and opt for Washable Wipes.


7) Will putting my child in bulkier cloth nappies restrict their movement?

There is no evidence to suggest this whatsoever, or that cloth nappies affect growth. Remember, disposable nappies have only been around for the past 20 years, before their arrival everyone wore beloved cloth nappies- do you see most adults walking strangely?!


8) Will I save money by using Cloth nappies?

The simple answer is Yes, you can save a lot of money by ditching the disposables. See here for information on just how much!


9) Which is better, Hook and Loop or Popper Fastenings?

This is purely down to personal preference, and we do find that the split tends to be roughly 50/50. Each type of fastening does have standard pro's and con's however which may help you to decide between them:

Hook and Loop


Pro's Excellent adjustability- the nappy can be fastened at the waist exactly where it needs to be
  Quick and easy to take on and off
  Usually preferred by the "cloth nervous"
Con's More susceptible to wear and tear
   If laundry tabs aren't well fastened, the hook and loop can stick to other nappies in the machine, causing an irritating 'nappy train'
  Easier for curious toddlers to undo!




Pro's Less prone to wear and tear
  Difficult for toddlers to undo
Con's Adjustability is restricted by the placement of the poppers
  A little slower to put on and off
  Can look a bit daunting to a cloth nappy newbie



10) My Nappies smell of Ammonia- Help!

An ammonia smell on your nappies is not normal and indicates a detergent build up. Place them on a hot wash without detergent to help clear the build up. Try reducing the amount of detergent you use in future and check the rinse cycle at the end of the wash for any soap suds- if you see any, rinse again.

It may also help to do a cold rinse and hold cycle before the wash. Hold the nappies in the rinse for a few hours- I find this really helps to clear them out properly before you do a hot wash cycle. 

Smaller wash loads will help too- modern day washing machines are designed to minimise the amount of water used, but unfortunately this is not always conducive to washing cloth nappies! Super absorbent nappies such as bamboo soak up any water very quickly, so smaller loads will help the water load to go further!

A further tip is to hang your nappies out on the line on a rainy day. The rain water will help significantly to clear out any smells or build up on your nappies.


 11) What do I do about leaking?

Usual causes of leaks would be:

1) Detergent build up- This can be a fairly common problem causing leaks, and the nappies may also have an ammonia smell when they are soiled. Build up may occur in the inner microfleece layer, the inserts themselves or both.

2) Heavy wetting- have you tried using some different fibre inserts in the nappies such as Bamboo or Hemp? If the inserts inside are getting very saturated it may be that the nappies now need extra absorbency as the wee's become larger. Bamboo tends to be a highly absorbent fibre so may be worth trying

3) Poor fit- try adjusting the nappy to ensure a neat fit around the legs and waist. However, not all nappies suit all shapes of baby so if you are still struggling with poor fit you may need to look at trying an alternative brand.

4) Damaged PUL- excessive tumble drying, drying on a high heat, ineffective rinsing or direct placement on a radiator will damage the waterproof qualities of the PUL, which may cause moisture to leak through.

You can take a look at our more comprehensive guide to dealing with nappy leaks here


12) How can I remove staining?

Whilst many people will never experience any discolouration of their nappies, others may find some staining, particularly with newborn poop or times of teething etc. Put simply, the very best way to remove stains is to get your nappies out in the sunshine- sun works wonders at bleaching out any discolouration. So next time we are blessed with a sunny day, get your nappies out there!


13) What kind of nappies should I use for nighttime use and a heavy wetter?

Natural fibre nappies are always recommended for night time use due to their superior absorbency. A two-part system is also recommended- so a shaped nappy, with a separate waterproof cover over the top. You can also add extra boosters to your nappies should you need them.

Night time nappies can sometimes take a bit of trial and error, but persist and you will find the combination that works for you. You can take a look at our category of night time nappies here


Still unsure? Take a look at our comprehensive digital Guide to Real Nappies here or get in touch!