Getting Started with Cloth Nappies

Getting Started with Cloth Nappies

So, you’ve decided to give cloth nappies a try, that’s awesome!

How many nappies do I need?

Well, if you’re going to have one baby in cloth full time, you will probably need around 24 nappies. This is based on getting through six a day, washing every other day, and allowing for drying time. How often you change will depend on your child, their age and how many Fruit Shoots they just drank. It will all make a difference.  

What else do I need?

Somewhere to store your dirty nappies, you can buy proper nappy buckets, but really any bucket with a lid will do. You could also use a large wet bag – avoid the cheap ones though, they aren’t very waterproof, and the zips are prone to break quite easily. You might want to consider liners, see the bit about poop below.

How often should I change a cloth nappy?

Again, this is all dependent on the child. If they poo, change it straight away, a wee after a poo will flood because the fabric will be too blocked to be able to absorb any liquid.

It is a bit of trial and error, you should get somewhere between 2 and 4 hours out of a cloth nappy, hemp is the most absorbent type of nappy available, so this should push you more towards the 4 hours end of the scale. As hemp is super slim, you could add an extra insert should you wish.

How do I use the pocket nappies?

A pocket nappy is essentially two pieces of fabric stitched together with an opening at one end (the bum end), one side is waterproof, the other side is fleecey, with the opening letting you put fabric in between the stitched layers. Into the opening you will place the insert. Below is a list of different inserts and their performance. To further improve the performance of your hemp insert, you could fold it in half and place it at the point of urine impact. The inserts are there to absorb the wee, not the poo. You may need more than one insert, maybe lay one flat and have one folded. This is a particularly good trick for boy babies, fold it and push it right to the front behind the Velcro.


Least Absorbent to Most Absorbent

Microfiber – quick to absorb, quick to dry, quick to leak
Charcoal Bamboo – It’s microfiber in the middle so is only marginally better than microfiber

If you do get leaks with hemp, it is possible that the insert isn’t absorbing fast enough for your baby. It does have a massive capacity, but hemp can be slower than some of its comparable materials. If this happens, try adding an insert from the other end of the scale into the pocket. Put your faster absorber in-front of your slower one. Then it will take the wee away quickly, and absorb slowly backwards into the hemp.

You’re talking sh*t - What do I do with my little darlings’ poop?

Well, if you’re exclusively breast feeding, breast milk is water soluble, so do nothing, chuck it in your bucket and wait for wash day.

If you’re weaning or using formula, things get a little bit more interesting. You’ll either need to add a liner to the nappy (disposable and fleece ones are available – not from me yet) and throw or flush the poo away. My technique was usually no liner, my shower head would reach the toilet. Blast the poop into the toilet with the shower. Flush away.

And how do I wash them?

So you’ve had your nappies sitting in your bucket for a couple of days – now what?
For best results chuck the whole lot in the machine, put a small dose of powder in the drawer and do a quick wash on cold. This will rinse the wee out of the nappies. Once that’s finished, put a full dose of powder for a heavily soiled load into the drawer, read the instructions on your detergent, you’ll be surprised just how much you are supposed to use. Wash at 40 degrees on your longest wash. If you have any options for extra water – press it. You want to make sure there are no suds left once you’ve finished.

If you’re just starting out, and only have a couple of nappies, after the first cold rinse you can add other clothes. Just don’t use fabric softener.

What about drying them?

Tumble dry on low heat or line dry.


Even if you choose to only use cloth part time, you’ll still be saving hundreds, maybe thousands of nappies from landfill – and how wonderful would that be?