Can Cloth Really Cut It?

I’m having a little worry.  Not a panic (yet) just a worry.  It’s that old chestnut money.  Most worries and stresses and arguments seem to stem from money, and for me at the moment, it’s a constant source of stress.

In three months’ time I’ll be on the final countdown to maternity leave.  I’m already part-time, so my maternity pay will be lower than it was when I was on mat leave with The Baby, yet there will be more to buy.  The Boyfriend and I are already less than comfortable once all the payments for the house have gone out.  Treats are a rarity these days, and even necessities have to be thought twice about.  I’m spending my days and nights thinking of ways of bringing in extra cash and ways to lower all the bills.  So far, Lottery Win seems like the most successful option.

Back in the real world, however, I need to start getting frugal.  So firstly I’m turning my attention towards nappies.  Before The Baby was born I knew I wouldn’t have the time/patience/inclination to deal with reusable nappies, but I didn’t want to mindlessly contibute to the mountains of rubbish in landfill sites either.  Also I didn’t like the idea of my baby’s delicate skin being wrapped in chemicals and chlorine as I prefer a more natural approach, and so I chose Nature Babycare nappies which are chlorine free and biodegradable.  I love their ethos of natural being best, trouble is, they cost £7 a pack, which I really don’t think will be manageable once Little Pea is on the scene.  The Baby has shown no signs yet of being ready for potty training (she’s only 18 months, but I was kind of hoping it wouldn’t be long!), and I still don’t like the idea of cheap, nasty nappies.  So that leaves reusables.  I know all the blurb that goes along with real nappies nowadays – bright and pretty designs, liner cloths, velcro fastenings, etc etc.  But I want to hear from all you real nappy using parents.  I want to know the reality of it all. 

How easy it is to deal with an explosive newborn nappy when you can’t wrap it up, stick it in a bag and chuck it in the bin?  How much time is taken each day with washing, drying, folding, unfolding, and counting nappies?  Have you reached a stage when you have run out due to bad planning, or a particularly explosive day or two?  What happens then when it’s not a case of simply running to the shops for another pack?  Is your life suddenly ruled by the washing machine and the constant checking that there are plenty of clean nappies on hand?  And, the most obvious question, do they really save you money?  In a real, noticeable, everyday sense? 

These are the things I want to know before I try real nappies.  Oh and one more thing – should I try them on The Baby first as ‘practice’ before being faced with the scarier prospect of the exploding mustard newborn nappy?  Or is getting a real nappy on a toddler as easy as doing a Rubix cube with a blindfold on?  All advice and opinions are welcome!


Image source:



Filed under Breastfeeding, The (Dummy) Mummy, The Girl

11 Responses to Can Cloth Really Cut It?

  1. I adore cloth nappies. I didn’t use them from newborn, as Joseph was 1lb 7oz at birth, and 4lb 6oz when he came home. We started once he was around 7lb, but by then his poos had settled.

    I used microfleece to start with, which I loved. Poo just bounces off, they are quite cheap, but they do need a wrap over the top. They fasten with velcro, and are really no different to using a sposie.

    I dry pailed then chucked in washing machine every 2 days. Microfleece is great for winter as it dries superfast indoors on an airer, or you can tumble dry if you own such a device, which I don’t.

    Later I moved to bamboo based all in ones, which are slower drying.

    I felt they saved us a fortune, were easy to use. I kept a packet of sposies on hand for disasters, but never used them really!

    Once you find your feet and your system its easy, and will save you money.

    If your not squeamish you can buy them second hand and that saves even more. Some companies offer bargains if you buy in bulk, and your council may offer money off vouchers or cash incentives.

  2. I had all your worries too when we first switched to cloth, we used eco disposables with our eldest and he was just coming out of nappies when his baby sister arrived. We started off using both, I got some bargain prefolds in a sale, borrowed a few pockets off a friend in between babies and bought a couple of pre-loved nappies off ebay. This way I found what suited us best without having to spend too much money and we built up our stash gradually, We now have enough to do a 3 day wash and I honestly don’t notice it anymore, As for drying most modern nappys dry really quickly, we tend to just leave them on maidens overnight, or pop them over raidators when the heating’s on (It’s certainly a conversation starter when you have vistors!) and there’s always the tumble drier if we’re in a rush! Explosive nappies are never nice to deal with but if you use a flushable liner the majority of the nasty can just be tipped in the loo, before giving the nappy a quick rinse and chucking in the bucket, the beauty of the mesh bags are that you then don’t need to touch it again untill you take it out of the wash! And a drop of lavender on a cotton woolball taped to the inside of the bucket lid will keep smells at bay until your ready for the wash. At first when we didn’t have many (And before I’d found the right night time nappy) we kept a pack of eco disposables in to use at night and ‘just in case’, but we haven’t used one in over 7 months now! I really notice the different money wise (with not buying disposables and follow on milk/formula our supermarket shops are substantially lower than when B was a baby, especially considering we’re feeding more mouths! Buying cloth wipes such as cheeky wipes saves money on baby wipes too and are much gentler on lo’s skin. As for how much time it will take up I currently work full time, blog, run a local listings wesite, organise events for a local veg growing club and still get to see my children and husband occasionally! So if I have time for cloth nappies any one does! I would say try a couple of BTP on your toddler, it’ll be good practice as new borns can be just as wriggly come nappy time!, and you can see how you get on, even if you just start slowly and build up your stash every pack of disposables you don’t buy is saving you money! I have recently taken part in a nappy challange on my blog and you may find some of the recent posts useful, so feel free to pop over and take a look…

  3. Yes cloth can save you money. And even then there are ways you can do reuseables on the cheap. Buy second hand or seconds (I’ve yet to find the ‘faults’ with our totsbots seconds). If you need boosters fold some tesco value microfibre cloths to fit the nappy. For liners and washable wipes cut up a cheap fleece blanket.

    Now I don’t have any experience of all-in-ones or prefolds as we started using seperate nappies & wraps with DS1 four years ago when AiOs were hideously expensive & there wasn’t a chance in hell I could have persuaded OH to deal with prefolds.. We were lucky and found that totsbots nappies fitted him great but the wraps didn’t work for us and there was the occasional leak. We switched to motherease after many recommendations and haven’t had a single leak since.

    To answer your questions:
    Explosive nappies we just stick in a wetbag, wait until it’s full and then wash. We got some huge wetbags from along with some wee ones for going out. We tried a nappy bucket and net with DS1 four years ago but it didn’t suit us and stank to high heaven.

    It doesn’t take that much time for us to manage our stash. We have a small laundry basket from the kids section of ikea we keep the nappies & wraps in so we have a vague idea of if we’re getting low. Washing them is as easy as throwing the wetbag in the wash and for hanging them we use a ceiling airer (ikea again) and underwear hangers so they don’t take up all the drying space.

    With DS2 we had to buy an extra set of size 1s as he was an extremely frequent wetter but was lucky and got a set of second hand barely used nappies from ebay for less than £3 a nappy including p&p. If we end up running low we can tumble dry as an emergency measure or dry some on the radiator.

    Basically once you have a system that works for you it’s easy. It’s also worth having a look to see if your council offer a real nappy incentive scheme.

    And the one huge thing I would suggest before taking the plunge with a new baby & cloth is take advantage of the free packs of disposables that you get offered through various baby clubs, bounty, etc as you will have enough to worry about in those very early days & it’s not worth the stress at that point. I’ve heard it so many times from friends that cloth was just too much with the arrival of a new baby & they didn’t try again after that.

    If you want to chat about cloth some more or get some pointers on where to find places to buy second hand either email me or find me on twitter @katbroon

  4. We’re going through the same discussion as you, had said we would for the first but just never got around to it. But feel like now would be a good time to do it with the second on the way. Clearly I don’t have any recommendations but I would say contact your council and see what help they provide. Ours have a guy employed to help people switch. He can loan us different types to try so we don’t have to invest lots of money and find the design doesnt work. I think they also give discount vouchers so well worth looking

  5. Hi lovely,

    I’m a disposables fan. Nothing quite like quick & convenient when it comes to the plethora of challenges that you face as Mum to a newborn but obviously there is the environmental issue. I would say that Pampers New Baby w/ Dry Max are BRILLIANT, especially w/ explosive newborn sludge!
    If you’re looking for disposable/reusable combination, check out gNappies. They have a disposable liner option or cloth. The disposable liners you can compost yourself & supposedly biodegrade in something like 150 days! I’ll put you in contact w/ their PR on Twitter! They are a really interesting solution & show how reusables have really come a long way in the last few years!
    Good luck lovely!
    Karin 😉

  6. I have used cloth for both mine. I made the decision a long time before I had children that I wanted to use cloth. There are SO many kinds that the decision looks really scary. I use Little Lamb bamboo ones. They come as a fitted nappy with a waterproof cover, 2 sizes. Size 1 is 7lb -20lb and size 2 is 20lb to potty training (about 38lbs I think but DS1 was no where near that when he was PT’d). I did use paper liners with DS1 but I don’t bother with DS2 and actually have no squeamish feelings towards swishing poo covered fleece liners down the toilet.

    I must say..I don’t use cloth at night so I never bought any stuffing and I just find the one disposable at night easier. I also don’t use cloth when we got out for a long time as I don’t really want to be carrying round pooie/wet nappies round with me (even though I do have a wet bag, it just stinks and I hate it lol)

    I dry pail (meaning I just sick the nappies in a bucket with a lid as they are, no water for soaking as the washing machine has never let me down yet) I have 19 size 2 nappies (did have 20 but DH left one at soft play-another reason for using disposables when we go out lol) and wash ever 2-3 days depending on how many changes I’ve had to do.

    If the weather is fine and you can sun dry them then any stains get sun bleached. And they will dry in one day. As it’s winter and the weather is rubbish I’ve got them on the radiator and it takes a couple of days. It’s worst in summer when it’s raining and you don’t have the radiators on, that takes ages!! You can tumble dry but you aren’t meant to do that often as it destroys the elastic.

    For everything when I bought them (4 years ago) I paid £200 for 25 size 1’s with fleece liners, 10 size 1 covers, 20 size 2’s with fleece liners 5 size 2 covers 2 buckets, 2 packs of paper liners and a wet bag.

    I keep thinking that nappies would be about £10 a week. I had 2 in nappies for about 8 month so that would have been £20 a week for 8 months. And our water bill is really low (we have a meter and are really sparing with it) so I must have saved money. As I do sometimes use disposables then I probably buy a pack every 2/3 months but I still think I’ve saved money. And I will keep them just in case there is a chance we have a 3rd as they are still in good condition.


  7. I love, love, love my Tots Bots! For newborn we used ferries (so cheap and unbelievably easy – thought I’d need a degree in origami but no.) with a paper liner inside which is plopped straight in the loo then set pailed. Totally painless. We washed when bucket was full and had enough that that meant we never ran out. We got cheap wraps (10p) in Boots sale. We moved on to fluffles which are my favourites. They dry fast and stay soft but you can’t get them now so we got flexitots which are slim, take a bit longer to drybut are otherwise perfect. I can send you an unused pack of 5 fluffles with a wrap if you want – unneeded gift!

  8. Zoe

    I’ve used cloth nappies on my little girl since she was about 4 weeks old and I wouldn’t go back to using disposables (she is now 15 months). In fact I like my real nappies so much I am now a real nappy advisor (so feel free to email or tweet me @mummykins82 if you have any more questions). It is really just a case of getting into a routine with the washing. You put the dirty nappies in a bucket (dry, no soaking) which is lined with a mesh bag. When the bucket is full (after about 2 days) you take the whole bag out and put it straight into the machine (no touching the dirty nappies!). You can dry them on the line, on airers or in the tumble dryer. If you use pocket nappies or all in one nappies it will take about 5 minutes to stuff them all, and then they go on in one piece, just like a disposable, so nappy changes are really easy. So all in all the washing, drying and stuffing takes about 10 minutes every 2 days. There have been various estimates of how much real nappies will save you, it’s anywhere between £500 and £1500 depending on who you ask and what nappies you buy.

    If you want any more advice do get in touch, or you might want to look for a nappy advisor in your area who can come and show you some different nappies and help you choose some that will suit your family, you can find one here: Oh and definitely check out whether your local council have any incentive schemes.

    • Thank you all for your comments on this post. I love how positive everyone is about cloth nappies! I’m going to seriously look into it and contact the council, and thanks for all your helpful advice and points of contact xx

  9. Pingback: How to Save the Planet and the Pennies «

  10. Pingback: Nappy choice- Washable versus disposable | Mum on the brink

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Follow Me

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.