We can help you understand what you need to get started using reusable nappies. We recommend attending a nappy demonstration near you to see the different types of reusable nappies available in person. You may even get discounts on orders placed on the day. If you cannot attend an event then real nappy advisors offer online advice. Please contact our helpline if you need advice on what to buy, and how to use reusable nappies – 020 3150 2023 or drop us an e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Which type of nappy should I use?
Reusable nappies come in three main types: All-in-One, Shaped and Flat (Prefolds). They are made of absorbent fabrics – bamboo, hemp, cotton, organic cotton, micro-fiber, wool. A waterproof wrap is needed for shaped and flat nappies. Parents use a bio-degradable paper liner or washable (cotton, silk and fleece) liner which can be placed inside all types of reusable nappies to capture the solids and prevent stains. Parents find that a mix and match approach works well.
Trial kits or starter kits, which can be bought using the real nappy voucher, usually contain a mix of the three main types of reusable nappies and associated extras (wraps, nappy nippas and liners) to get you started. You can then buy more nappies of a particular type when you are ready.
You may find that you need to ‘boost’ your nappies with nappy boosters to increase absorbency. This is useful for night time use 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 currently on the market by visiting our ‘What are real nappies?‘ page.
How many nappies will I need?
The number of nappies you will need varies on a variety of factors, such as the type of nappy you choose to use and if you use them full-time or part-time.
As a guide, from birth: 18 – 24 all-in-one, flat or shaped nappies. You will need roughly 3 – 6 waterproof wraps, which come one-size or sized, to use with flat and shaped nappies.
From when your baby is 6 months onwards (over 15 lbs/7kg), you may find you are doing less nappy changes, so you will only need 15 – 20 nappies for about 5 changes a day.
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 may need:
- Sealable nappy bucket with mesh bag, or a wet bag, to store used nappies at home and on the go.
- Washable wipes are a great alternative and can be found in a range of fabrics.
The majority of suppliers who accept real nappy vouchers sell these accessories but please remember if you have a real nappy voucher, it can only be redeemed for reusable nappies, wraps, booster pads, liners, nappy grips, training pants or for a trial laundry service.
How Do I Redeem My Real Nappy Voucher?
If you are shopping online please do not enter your voucher code into supplier promotional code boxes, this will not work. Instead, please contact your chosen supplier to find out their specific voucher redemption instructions. If you are buying in store or at a nappy demo please take proof of identity with you. You can show your e-voucher on your mobile or print it out. If you have received a postal voucher please bring that with you. More information can be found on our How to Redeem Your Real Nappy Voucher page.
Storing, Washing and Drying Reusable Nappies
How do I store soiled nappies?
You will need a bucket with a lid, or wet bag, to store the nappies until you have enough for a machine load. There is no need to soak, modern washing machines and detergents will get your nappies clean. Most people store them dry these days (known as dry pailing). Many people also find mesh laundry bags for the bucket and wet bags for storing used nappies when out and about and at home to be useful. Do not soak waterproof wraps, all-in-ones or pocket nappies as this shortens their lifespan.
How do I wash real nappies?
It is very important that you prewash your nappies a few times at 40°C before you use them to get them up to full absorbency. 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, or wet bag, until you have enough for a full load. You must remove any excess soiling before washing your nappies. If you are using a disposable liner please bin it. Reusable liners can be washed with your nappies, shake off any excess poo into the toilet.
It is always recommended to follow the manufacturers fabric care label. But as a guide, when you are ready to wash your nappies, put them through a cold rinse cycle first and then add to the rest of the household washing at 40°C (lightly soiled nappies) or 60°C (heavily soiled nappies). If your baby is under 6 months, rinsed soiled nappies should be washed at 60°C (while your baby is developing resistance to infection).
We recommend using normal non-bio detergent. There are also nappy sanitisers and cleansers, such as Potion or Miofresh, which allow washing at lower temperatures and will help to freshen and deodorise your nappies. 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. Most wraps are very quick drying. 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.
- 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 real nappies?
Line dry or air dry your reusable nappies where possible and away from direct heat. Sunshine will deodorise, sanitise and naturally bleach them back to a bright white. Even placing nappies on a windowsill can help. Avoid tumble drying, as this reduces the life of the nappy, uses a lot of energy, which is not good for the environment and costs more to run. If you do tumble dry your nappies please do so at a cool/ low setting. There are a range of reusable nappies made of fast drying materials available (see nappy types above). Do not iron your nappies.
Is there a real nappy laundry service?
Real nappy laundry services 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. Please note, at the moment, laundry services are for flat nappies only. 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 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 reusable wet 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.
Preloved Reusable Nappies
What do I do with my nappies once my child has potty trained?
Having another baby? The great thing about reusable nappies is that they can be used again. Many websites allow you to sell preloved or second hand nappies.
Get in Touch
Not sure where to start? Let us know your questions so we can help you get started. We aim to respond within 2 working days.
Your Guide to Getting Started
Where to Buy
Buy Reusable Nappies
Raise Awareness of Reusable Nappies