Real Nappies: How To Use Real Nappies

We can help you understand what you need to get started with using real nappies. We recommend attending a demo event near you to see the different types of real nappies available. You may even get discounts on orders placed on the day. If you cannot attend an event then real nappy advisors offer telephone or skype consultations.

Getting Started

How many nappies will I need?

Nappies are usually washed every 2-3 days. The number you need depends on your routine and the type of nappies you use.  As a guide, from birth: 18 – 24 flat, shaped or birth-to potty nappies with 3-6 waterproof covers (birth to potty or fitted).  From 6 months: 15 – 20 nappies for about 5 changes a day.  Starting when your baby is over 15 lbs 7kg.

If you want to use a birth-to-potty nappy from birth expect some leakage with a newborn. Some people use flat nappies for the first few weeks to get a good fit.

Which type of nappy should I use?

Parents find that a mix and match approach to real nappies works well.  You don’t have to stick to one brand or one type of nappy.  But to get started, you will need to buy at least 8 nappies (flat, shaped or pocket).  Using your real nappy voucher on a trial pack offers the chance to test a variety of nappy types.  You’ll soon find that you’ve become the real nappy expert knowing which type of nappy suits your baby and your lifestyle.

How much will it cost?

Starting with 24 flat nappies and 4 wraps plus some liners (at £3.50 per roll of 100), you can expect to pay around £120 for a set. You will need to get larger wraps later as your baby grows, which will bring the total to about £200 for everything until your baby is potty trained.

A full set of birth-to-potty shaped nappies with wraps and liners, providing everything you need in one go, will cost a little over £250. The same goes for pocket nappies. This compares to £600 – £900 for disposables.

Washing and Drying Real Nappies

How do I wash real nappies?

It is very important that you prewash your nappies before you use them to make them absorbent. To test for absorbency pour water on a dry nappy: if the water runs off the surface, it is not ready for use.  This is particularly important with bamboo nappies.

Store used nappies in a bucket with a lid until you have enough for a full load. Put the nappies through a cold rinse cycle first and then add to the rest of the household washing at 40°C. If your baby is under 6 months rinsed, soiled nappies should be washed at 60°C (while s/he is developing resistance to infection).

Wraps should be washed at 40°C. They don’t have to be washed each time they are used if they have not been soiled and can be quickly rinsed under a tap if you feel this is necessary. Most are very quick drying.

Some biodegradable liners can also be washed once or twice if they are wet and not soiled.

There are now special detergents available for washing nappies which allow you to wash and sanitise nappies at low temperatures. Most real nappy suppliers stock them.

How do I store the nappies between washes?

You will need a bucket with a lid to store the nappies until you have enough for a machine load.  Most people store them dry these days (known as dry pailing). But if you want to soak them, fill a bucket with enough water to cover the nappies and add a few drops of tea tree or lavender oil or a spoon of white vinegar.   Many people also find mesh laundry bags useful and wet bags for storing used nappies when out and about. Washable wipes, often made of bamboo, are another good way to save money and reduce waste.

Note: Do not soak wraps, all-in-ones or pocket nappies as this shortens their lifespan.

Is there a real nappy laundry service?

Laundries supply, deliver, collect and wash your nappies for you. They supply a lidded nappy bin into which you put the wet and soiled nappies. Once a week all the used nappies are collected and a freshly laundered set delivered.  They are washed to hospital disinfection standards and thoroughly rinsed to protect your baby’s skin.  You might need to provide your own wraps.  After the nappies’ useful life they are sent for reuse.  Some laundries also sell new nappies.

Laundry services cost £9.50 – £12 per week.

How do I dry real nappies?

Dry real nappies on a washing line if you can. Sunshine will deodorise, sanitise and naturally bleach them back to a bright white. Otherwise line-dry indoors.  Even placing nappies on a windowsill can help bleach them.   Avoid tumble drying, as this uses a lot of energy, costs more to run, reduces the life of the nappy and is not good for the environment.

Real Nappies at Children Centres

What happens when my child goes to nursery?

If you have chosen to use real nappies you have done so for a reason. Whether it’s your baby’s health or to reduce waste, it is your choice.   It is important that the nursery you choose for your baby supports and respects your decision. You simply take enough clean nappies (and wraps if needed) to the nursery to last the day and bring them home to wash in the evening.  It’s a good idea to supply your nursery with a re-usable bag for the used nappies.

What should I do if my nursery is unwilling to use real nappies?

Most nurseries will be happy to use real nappies.  In the unlikely event that your child’s nursery is unwilling to use real nappies please contact Real Nappies for London.   We are keen to monitor the situation and find out why they are unable to meet your needs.

Pre-loved Real Nappies

What do I do with my nappies once my child has potty trained?

Having another baby? The great thing about real nappies is that most cloth nappies can be used again. Many websites allow you to sell preloved or second hand nappies.