Getting Started With Cloth Nappies

Why Cloth Nappies?

Everyone has a different reason for why they use modern cloth nappies; from saving the environment, their baby’s health, saving water to reducing costs. It doesn’t matter why you are changing to cloth, but we are here to help.

Fun facts! Did you know… In the first two to three years of your baby’s life he/she will go through over 7,000 nappies before toilet training begins. That is a lot of nappies and a lot of poo!

Here are some fun facts about why others have changed to cloth nappies.

Your pocket will love you!

So, at first the cost of modern cloth nappies compared to disposable nappies may seem high. Well, you will buy 20 to 30 cloth nappies ONCE compared to over 7,000 disposable nappies PER BABY! Let’s break it down for you.

Number of nappy changes:

On average the number of nappies you will change daily is:

Birth to 3 months = 12-14 nappies per day

3 months to 6 months = 9-11 nappies per day

6 months to 18 months = 6-8 nappies per day

18 months to 2 years = 4-6 nappies per day

2 years to 3 years = 3 nappies per day

= 7,456 nappies!

Cost vs options:

7,500 nappy changes x 0.50c each nappy = $3,750 (50c per nappy change)

30 modern cloth nappies x $30 each = $900 (12c per nappy change)

30 traditional cloth nappies and waterproof covers = $200 (3c per nappy change)

More savings:

  • Cloth nappies are also great for growing families as they can be used for subsequent children. This makes them more economical the more you use them!
  • More savings can be made by using cloth nappy accessories, including washable bamboo or cotton wipes, PUL changing mats and wet-bags. Check out our Accessories for more information on these items.
  • The cost of laundering modern cloth nappies (including detergent and water) is around $350 for 3 years; depending on your washing machine and where you live.

Your baby’s health will improve

Wondering how you can control the number of chemicals which come in contact with your little baby’s delicate skin? Well, cloth nappies and reusable wipes are great!

Many parents are concerned that modern cloth nappies will cause nappy rash, but the good news is that they don’t! The most common causes of nappy rash are chemical irritation, bacterial infection or high acid levels in a baby’s urine. Of course, it is vital to use a laundry detergent that agrees with young, sensitive skin. It doesn’t matter the type of nappy worn just as long as the nappy is changed regularly.

We love the environment!

According to Government of South Australia, 800 million disposable nappies end up in Australian landfills annually! Yes, you read that right! I said annually. If this isn’t scary enough; these disposable nappies take 200 to 500 years to break down once they are in landfill.*

The great debate about the environmental impact of cloth vs disposable has been fuming for a long time, with the primary focus being on water usage for each type of nappy. However, the environmental impacts are greater than just one aspect of our environment. A full Life Cycle Analysis was released in 2010 by the University of Queensland and compared all aspects of each type of nappy**. The results favoured cloth nappies as the more environmentally sensitive option if correctly laundered. Here is a snippet of their findings:

  • It takes as much energy to produce one disposable as it does to wash a cloth nappy 200 times.
  • It takes twice the amount of water to produce one disposable nappy than is used to wash one modern cloth nappy for a year.
  • Cloth nappies can be made from environmentally sustainable materials, like bamboo, hemp, wool & organic cotton, all of which use less water and energy to produce than traditional cotton.
  • Bamboo, hemp and organic cotton do not require chemical pesticides, are quick to grow and can easily be produced on sustainable plantations.
  • Disposable nappies account for approximately one third of household rubbish in a family with a child under two years. This has a huge impact on the costs of waste removal and landfill management. These costs are then passed on to us through our local council rates. The average wheelie bin from your local council is too small to fit a week of nappy changes from a newborn.
  • Modern cloth nappies do not require soaking, bleaching (or ironing!), or any of the other outdated practices that have been incorrectly quoted in past studies. They can be washed in cold or warm water and can easily be dried using the sun’s energy. New technology means our washing machines and dryers are more efficient which further lowers the impact on the environment when using reusable nappies.

*Zero Waste SA: Know all about Nappies – Fact Sheet 

** Life Cycle Assessment: Reusable and disposable nappies in Australia; Kate O’Brien 

Easy Washing:

Having a good washing routine is fundamental to getting clean nappies that hold their absorbency and don’t smell. Before you use your new nappies, it is important that you prepare them to ensure that the fibres reach their full absorbency.

Preparing your new nappies:

Soak all your new nappies overnight in a bucket of cold water before washing them 2 -3 times on a regular wash cycle. It is important that detergent is used only for the first wash and you do not need to dry them between washes. It is important to remember that it takes up to 6 washes for the fibres of your new nappies to reach their full absorbency. So, you will need to change them more frequently the first few times of use.

Nappy Care Day-to-Day:

Washing of cloth nappies is very easy; we recommend the five-step approach. However, it is trial and error to discover what washing routine works best for you. All you need to do is keep it simple.

Step 1 ~ Clean it

Deposit any solids into the toilet and hand rinse you nappy as soon as possible. This includes all wee nappies! Rinsing will minimise staining, cut down on smell and stop potential fabric damage from acidic wee.

Step 2 ~ Store it

Place your nappies in a dry bucket, dry bin or wet-bag – ‘dry pailing’. You can soak in water, but we recommend dry pailing. During hot and humid weather, your nappies may get sweaty, we recommend a swing top bin or laundry hamper as a better way to store your nappies. If you have a front loader, you may find that storing your nappies in a wet-bag will make it easier to load them into the machine.

Step 3 ~ Pre-rinse it

Empty your nappies into your washing machine every day to two and pre-rinse your load in a warm cycle. This gets rid of any excess urine or soiling before the wash cycle.

Step 4 ~ Wash it

Put your nappies through a normal/long wash cycle up to 60°C with the amount of detergent recommended by the detergent manufacturer for your load size and water level. If you use a front loader, we recommend you run an additional rinse cycle at the end of your wash to avoid smelly and/or leaking nappies.

Step 5 ~ Dry it

Sunlight is an amazing tool! Not only is it an economical way to dry your nappies, but it will able eliminate bacteria and bleach any stains out! How good is that! Try to avoid leaving nappies in direct sun for long periods as intense heat can make your nappies go stiff and perish the elastics. It is important to avoid putting too much stress on the leg elastics and internal absorbency by hanging them horizontally rather than from the front to the back of the nappy. Absorbent inserts, fitted nappies and pre-folds can be tumble dried on a medium heat.

For more washing advice, we recommend having a look at or

washing tipswashing tips


The world of MCNs (Modern Cloth Nappies) can be very daunting and that can be hindered by the use of so many acronyms. Hopefully this list clears it up.

OSFM – One size fits most or One size fits all

AIO – All in One

AI2 – All in Two

SIO – Snap in One

SS – Side snaps

FS – Front snaps

PUL – Polyurethane laminate (waterproof layer)

OOAK – One of a kind

Insert – A piece of fabric that comes with the nappy for added absorbency

Booster – An extra piece of fabric to increase absorbency

Liner – A piece of fabric (or disposable bamboo) to catch poo and keep baby dry

Shell/Cover – The waterproof outer

Different Types

Flats – Old school Terry Towelling nappies that are folded into shape and require a cover.

Prefold – A square piece of fabric that can be tri-folded (into 3) and laid inside a waterproof cover

Fitted – A fully absorbent nappy that is shaped to look like a disposable (require a cover)

OSFM – A nappy that is shaped like a disposable with snaps to change the size to suit your baby

Sized – A shaped nappy that comes in Newborn, Small, Medium, Large and X Large

All in One (AIO) – Everything (waterproof shell and absorbency) is all sewn together for convenience

All in Two (AI2) – The waterproof shell and absorbency comes apart for quicker drying time

Pocket Nappies – The absorbency is stuffed inside a pocket

Covers/Shells – The waterproof layer if the nappy doesn’t already have it


Each fabric has positives and negatives regarding their absorbency and drying time. Here are a few common ones:

Microfiber is perfect for winter or humid summers as it dries very quickly;

Bamboo is great for nights as it is very absorbent and breathes well;

Cotton is usually less expensive and dries fairly quickly;

Hemp is extremely hardy and absorbent.