We can help you understand what you need to get started using reusable nappies. You may find it useful joining one of our online reusable nappy demonstrations for a visual introduction into reusable nappies and how to use, wash and dry them.
If you need one-to-one reusable nappy advice you can fill out the contact form below or give us a call on 0203 150 2023. You can also email us your questions: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Which type of nappy should I use?
Reusable nappies come in three main types: All-in-One, Shaped and Flat. They are made of absorbent fabrics – bamboo, hemp, cotton, organic cotton and microfibre. A waterproof wrap is needed for shaped and flat nappies. Parents use a disposable (bio-degradable) paper liner or washable fleece liner which can be placed inside all types of reusable nappies to catch solids and prevent stains.
Parents either prefer to use one type of reusable nappy or take a mix-and-match approach for different situations like daytime and night-time. You may want to start off small with a pack of 6 to 8 nappies (24 hours’ use), trying out the three main types and a mix of different brands. Then when you are ready, you can increase the quantity by what you prefer to use.
Nappy boosters help to increase the absorbency of a reusable nappy. This is useful for night-time or if your child is a heavy wetter. Nappy boosters come in bamboo, hemp, cotton, organic cotton. Find out more about the different types of reusable nappies and additional items you may need by visiting our ‘What are real nappies?‘ page.
How many nappies will I need?
The number of nappies you will need depends on the age of your baby (how many changes you are doing a day) and if you will be using them full-time or part-time.
To go full-time with reusable nappies we recommend buying enough nappies so that you are washing every 2 – 3 days. This could be 18 – 24 reusable nappies. An average of 20 is good – 15 daytime nappies and 5 night-time nappies. For a baby under 6 months, who will need more frequent changing, you may find you will need 24 nappies to go full-time.
To begin with, you may find it useful to start off small, with enough nappies for 24-hours use (6 – 8 reusable nappies) and then buy more as you go. The 6 – 8 nappies could be a mixture of the three main types so you can give them all a go and then buy more of a particular preferred type or brand.
Remember: for flat and shaped nappies you will need a waterproof wrap on top. Our recommendation is one waterproof wrap to every three shaped or flat nappy. This is because wraps made of PUL can be reused more than once by wiping with a wet cloth or rinsing and then leaving to dry before reusing. PUL Waterproof wraps dry very quickly and make for an economical system.
How much will it cost?
The upfront cost depends on what brand and type you choose and if you are going to use them full-time or part-time. As a guide, if you start with 24 flat nappies and 4 waterproof wraps plus some liners (at £3.50 per roll of 100), you can expect to pay around £120 for a set. All-in-one nappies and shaped nappies cost more than flat nappies.
Buying new reusable nappies isn’t the only option. You might like to think about hiring reusable nappies at a small fee or picking up nappies for free. London has a network of Cloth Nappy Libraries that hire out sets of reusable nappies for a set period of time. Real Nappy Networks and parent volunteers offer opportunities for face to face nappy demos and give and take events, where parents can pass on pre-loved good quality reusable nappies and children’s clothes to other parents. There is also an online preloved nappy market.
Our voucher scheme can help you get started with the initial cost. We offer vouchers of up to £54.15 for you to spend with a range of suppliers and nappy laundry services. Please note vouchers are only for parents with a baby under 18 months living in voucher participating London Boroughs.
What else will I need?
Other items you will need:
- Sealable nappy bucket with mesh bag, or a wet bag, to store used dirty nappies at home. Wet bags are useful when you’re on the go.
- Reusable wet wipes are a great alternative to single-use wet wipes and can be found in a range of fabrics like hemp, cotton and bamboo.
The majority of suppliers who accept Real Nappies for London vouchers sell these accessories but please remember if you do have a voucher, it can only be redeemed for reusable nappies, wraps, booster pads, liners, nappy grips, training pants or for a trial laundry service. Not accessories.
How Do I Redeem My Voucher?
Storing, Washing and Drying Reusable Nappies
How do I store wet and soiled nappies?
Remove solids from a nappy using a disposable or washable liner, or by shaking the solids off the nappy straight into the toilet. Do not flush disposable paper liners. Dirty nappies should be stored dry in a bucket with a lid or wet bag. There is no need to soak in water as this can damage the material. Modern washing machines and detergents will efficiently clean them. Mesh laundry bags in the bucket are useful to transfer dirty nappies into the washing machine. Wet bags are useful for both at the home and whilst out and about.
- Soak waterproof wraps, all-in-ones or pocket nappies as this will damage the PUL material and shorten their lifespan.
- Flush disposable liners.
How do I wash reusable nappies?
It is very important that you prewash brand new nappies 2 – 3 times before you use them. This will help to get them up to full absorbency. To test for absorbency you can pour a little bit of water on a dry nappy – if the water runs off the surface, it is not ready for use. Reusable nappies made of bamboo may take 3 – 4 washes. But you could use them after two washes, but know that it has not yet reached its full absorbency capacity so may need changing sooner than usual.
As a guide, when you are ready to wash, put them through a cold rinse cycle or fast cold wash first without detergent. This cycle will agitate the nappies and remove dirt before draining the water away from the machine. Then put the rinsed nappies on your washing machines longest temperature wash up to 60°C (40°C lightly soiled nappies, or 60°C heavily soiled nappies). Alway wash rinsed nappies at 60°C if your baby is under 6 months, while your baby is developing resistance to infection. Note: make sure you follow the manufacturers fabric care label.
Waterproof wraps do not 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. Wraps with PUL dry very quickly. Please make sure any velcro tabs are folded in to protect them in the wash, this also applies to velcro tabs on all-in-one and shaped nappies.
We recommend using non-bio detergent. Commonly powder rather than liquid detergent. There are also nappy sanitisers and cleansers, such as Miofresh, which allow washing at lower temperatures and will help to freshen and deodorise your nappies.
If you do not have enough nappies for a full load you can add reusable wet wipes to the rinse cycle and then add other household washing like dirty baby clothes, towels or bedsheets to the temperature wash.
- Use fabric softener as this can prevents the absorbency of your nappies.
- Boil wash – high heat will damage/destroy the nappies
- Use bleach.
- Avoid oil based barrier creams, such as Sudocream.
How do I dry reusable nappies?
Air-dry reusable nappies where possible and away from direct heat such as radiators. Sunshine will deodorise, sanitise and naturally remove stains. Even placing nappies on a windowsill can help. Avoid tumble drying, as this reduces the life of the nappy, uses a lot of energy and costs more to run. If you do use a tumble drier, please do so on a low, cool setting.
Some reusable nappies dry quicker than others. Having a variety of types means you should always have some to use. For example, microfibre or cotton nappies dry quicker than bamboo and hemp nappies. There are a range of reusable nappies made of fast drying materials (see nappy types above).
Do not: iron nappies.
Is there a washable nappy laundry service?
Washable nappy laundry services supply, deliver, collect and wash reusable nappies for you. These are usually flat nappies.
The service provides 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 NHS disinfection standards and thoroughly rinsed to protect your baby’s skin. You may need to provide your own waterproof wraps or you can hire them. Laundry services cost £9.50 – £15 per week.
Using Reusable Nappies at Nursery
What happens when my child goes to nursery?
If you have chosen to use reusable 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 reusable nappies (and wraps if using flat or shaped nappies) 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 reusable wet bag to store used nappies.
What should I do if my nursery is unwilling to use real nappies?
Most nurseries will be happy to use reusable nappies. In the unlikely event that your child’s nursery is unwilling to use them please contact us. We are keen to help and find out why they are unable to meet your needs.
Preloved Reusable Nappies
What do I do with my nappies once my child has potty trained?
Get in Touch
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