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cloth nappy myth busting

We receive a lot of similar questions from people asking about using cloth nappies so we interviewed our Nappy Gurus and get those questions answered for you.


"They leak all the time and you have to change them more often"

Leaks generally relate to fit. Get the fit right and boosted to the correct absorbency, and you are on the right track to success. You should expect a day time nappy to last around 3 hours, and there are specific night time nappies you can choose to get you through the longer periods.

Guru Rachel "Never had a poonami in cloth, thanks to the elastic at the back and double gussets. Way less leaky than disposables"

Guru Melissa "The only newborn poonamis we had happened in disposables. Fantastic elastic! I don't see changing more often as a bad thing, it can't be pleasant being sat in a soggy disposable for hours just because it hasn't leaked yet."

Guru Laura "My super heavy wetter can wear cloth for 12 hours + overnight. It’s all about finding the right system!"

If you are experiencing persistent leaks check out our guide to preventing nappy leaks.

"They're not better for the environment"

This is a myth that has been doing the rounds for years, ever since a flawed study by the Environment Agency was published in 2005. This was soon discredited and reproduced in 2008, however the damage was done. Check out this article written by Nappy Guru Laura for JUNO Magazine for a comprehensive comparison of the environmental impacts of Reusable vs Disposable nappies

Guru Lauren "It takes 1,500 litres of crude oil to make enough disposable nappies for one child from birth to potty, and 10x more water than what you'd use to wash reusables, and that's before you consider the 500 years in landfill. Then there is the fact you can use preloved and save the nappies for future children."

Guru Rachel "People seem to think the water used for washing them is an issue, but when you consider how much water is used in the production of disposable nappies it doesn't compare."

"Cloth is too much hard work"

Guru Chloe "Keep it simple - 5 minutes to put on a wash, 5 minutes to hang to dry, 5 minutes to put away. Using cloth nappies is effectively an extra load of washing every 2-3 days. That's it."

Guru Lauren “We do not advocate time consuming and complicated wash routines - we don't suggest taking them down to the nearest river and beating them with a rock, followed by laying them out on the ground, taking off your shoes and performing the cha cha slide on top of them. Three times. Backwards.“

Have a read of our simple guide to washing nappies.

"Cloth will delay walking, cause hip problems and make it harder for them to roll over"

Whilst in theory it *could* be the case that rolling over or walking *may* be delayed in cloth babies by a week or so, this is impossible to prove or disprove. But remember, all of us over a certain age will have grown up wearing cloth nappies. Pampers were first launched in 1970, and were in wide circulation by the late 70's. Prior to which we all wore terry squares. We walk just fine.

Guru Emma "If a baby has a medical problem such as hip dysplasia they advise to use cloth nappies or double up on disposables as it hold babies hips in the optimum position. So cloth can be much better for baby's development."

Guru Zoe " My 3rd baby who has been full-time cloth since newborn walked at 10 months and crawled at 7 months so this is definitely not true in my experience."

"They cost so much more money"

Guru Melissa "It's as cheap as you want to make it! Buying preloved and using prefolds or terries cuts costs considerably. Not forgetting you can use them on future babies which makes them basically free for every child after the first, or sell them on and get some of your money back."

Guru Emma "Just don't fall into the print rabbit hole, and it will be way cheaper than disposables."

Guru Laura "Initially yes - but you don't have to do all or nothing and there are nappy libraries and preloved sales that can also help while you're building up a stash. Over the time your child (children) are in nappies, the cost of disposables is much higher!  Unless you get addicted to buying them, then I'm afraid I can't help you other than to invite you along to my support group #nappyaddictsanonymous"

You can find a comprehensive breakdown of costs involved in both disposable and reusable nappies in our Saving Money with Cloth Nappies guide.

"They smell"

Guru Melissa "Disposables don't exactly smell like a bunch of roses. Cloth definitely doesn't smell as bad as disposables, and they don't have to sit in your bin for a fortnight."

Guru Hazel " Disposables smell worse. A chemically wee smell"

It is true that a number 2 can be much harder to detect in a cloth nappy- often you just can't smell it!

What is also true is that your dirty nappies will be fresh and clean again in a couple of days. They will not be left stinking in a wheelie bin for a fortnight until bin day.

"Don’t you get poo on your clothes from the washing machine, and you need two washing machines?"

Guru Lauren "No, it's no different to washing anything other dirty clothing, such as muddy clothes or children pants when potty training"

Guru Petra " Newborn poo is the only poo that goes in the washing machine and it’s water soluble so just washes away. It’s the same as when you wash baby clothes that have poo on them (after a poonami which will definitely happen if you use disposable nappies!). After weaning, the poo goes down the loo, not into the washing machine."

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