The Ins and Outs of Using Cloth Nappies

Tuesday, February 25, 2014
I have a lot of people ask me about the ins and outs of using cloth nappies/ diapers (not the old terry toweling nappies, but the new and improved modern cloth nappies), so, I thought I would share how the wearing, washing, cleaning up, poo removal and all that other fun stuff works! Ezra is now almost completely toilet trained!! Waahoo! But now, Willow still uses the original nappies that I bought two and a half years ago, and that have had a major work out by her older brother!
Even before Ezra was born I was determined to use cloth nappies, we were going down to a single income so I wanted to try and save some money, and the thought of filling my bins with dozens of nappies every week that would just sit in landfills made me feel pretty guilty. I know there are biodegradable nappies out there, but they are often more expensive than the regular ones, so it didn't quite mesh with my money saving strategies.

When I first started researching MCN (Modern Cloth Nappies) I was a little overwhelmed, how do you know what brands are good? Some of them are really expensive, but what if they don't work? Do you have to buy different sizes as the kids grow? It can be really confusing, and then I think that puts people off using them in the first place. When you are having a baby there is already so much stuff to research and figure out, and so often the idea of cloth nappies just goes into the 'Too Hard' basket.
So, let me try and help simplify it , obviously I have only ever used one brand, so I don't know how all the other brands work, but this is just my experience:
How Many Do You Need: I started off with an 18 pack. I found that it was not quite enough unless I wanted to wash daily, but then they brought out all these really gorgeous prints, so I bought 6 more. So, 24 was pretty good, if I wash them every 2-3 days in Summer and every 2 days in Winter I never seemed to run out.
What Brand Do You Use? I use a brand called Itti-bitti. They are an Australian brand based out of Newcastle, NSW. They have a few different styles, but all of mine are the Bitti-Tutto. I chose them because they grow with your baby. You can use the same nappy from birth until potty/toilet training, which I think is great financially. They have an outer shell, and then soaker pads that you can arrange to your liking. I also love their awesome colour ranges and patterns! Way cuter than disposables! I have used them for two and a half years on two children and they are still going strong, I've only had one press stud fall off! I would say that is a pretty good investment! And they often have pretty sales too!
How Do You Get the Poop Out: Everyones favourite question! Well, with newborn and breastfed only poo it is pretty runny and often seeps into the nappy so there isn't much to wipe off, if there is some, I will just wipe it with some toilet paper and flush it! Once they start solids its more like 'real' poo, but most of the time I have found that I can still just flick it off with some toilet paper or wipes and flush it. Toddler poo is by far the worst! Once again I use the same strategy, I try to get most of it off, but it doesn't always work. Often I will just put it in the bucket, but if it is really bad you rinse it off first.

Where Do You Store the Soiled Nappies? Once I've disposed of the poo! I then just put them into a dry nappy bucket with a good lid! I don't soak them, and I find as long as the lid is on, it doesn't stink up the house. You can find them at any baby store.
How Do You Wash Them?: I use a specific cloth nappy washing powder called 'Rockin Green'. But you don't have to use a specific cloth nappy powder, just make sure it doesn't have any enzymes in it. First I do a rinse cycle, and since Ez reached toddlerhood I started putting the Rockin Green funk wash in with the rinse cycle, because boy wee is STINKY! I will then do a cold or warm wash with two tablespoons of the Rockin Green powder. If it is a particularly gross load of nappies, I will do another rinse at the end! I then hang them in the sun on a drying rack, the sun bleaches out any of the leftover stains.
How Often Do you Need to change them? The thing about disposables is they are CRAZY absorbent. They are made of unnatural materials that can soak up copius amounts of wee. Cloth nappies are not as absorbent as disposables, because they are usually made of natural materials like bamboo, so obviously you need to change them more often. The regularity of nappy changes depends on your child and their liquid intake. I just check them regularly. If they have had a big breast feed or if they had drank a lot of water, then I know that there is a big wee coming! It is just common sense really! I can't put a time limit on it, you may have a child that wee's every hour, or every few hours, they could be heavy wetters or do lots of little wees! It all depends.
Do they Leak: They can leak wee. Often it is because of the fit of the nappy, if they aren't on tight enough of if there is gaping, then they can leak. Ezra leaked occassionally, and I put it down to boys being 'fast wee-ers' and it skimming off the soaker pads to the outside, if that makes sense. Willow has never had a leak! EVER! And, neither of them have EVER had a poo leak, I've had WAYYY more poo leaks in disposables, and they are so much worse that wee leaks!
How Do They Work When you go out? You can get these great 'wet bags' for going out. They hold up to four nappies, and then whenever you change a nappy, just pop it in the bag, zip it up and it stops the smell stinking up your bag. You just have to remember to check their wetness levels!
Can You Use Them for Night time? Personally, I don't use them at night time. I just use a disposable. Just because I'm trying to minimise night waking! But, their are MCN's that you can use at night time, I tried it with Ezra with the Tutto's and they would often leak if I didn't change them after a night feed. Then he would wake again. And I would have to strip the sheets and bla bla the things you don't want to be doing at 2am.
Are they bulky and big? They are bulkier than disposables. But, really I've never had much of a problem with clothes fitting. Actually, they gave my skinny boy 'hips' so his pants would actually stay on! They are also really cute under dresses for little girls, you can colour coordinate the nappy with the outfit!
Does your husband think they are too hard? No! He likes them better than disposables. He took the time to figure out how they work and he is just as proficient as me! We are an equal opportunity nappy changing household!
It is just TOO HARD? No! It is actually really easy, and doesn't take that much extra effort on my part! Just five minutes putting them in the wash, and another five minutes hanging them out to dry. Pretty simple really. I find myself doing an extra few washing machine runs in a week, I have a front loader so it is pretty water efficient. I didn't use them for the first few weeks with both bubs, because I didn't want to make any extra work for myself, so I just started once I got into the swing of things. You have to change them a little more. But, I think of my Mum having four kids and us all in the old-school terry towelling nappies, WITH THE PINS!!!! EEEEK! And she managed just fine, so seriously this is soo much easier than that, so surely I can manage!
Anyway, I hope that has answered any questions you might have!
But, if you have any more feel free to ask, and I'll try to answer the best I can!
Linking up with Jess for #IBOT

14 comments on "The Ins and Outs of Using Cloth Nappies "
  1. If I had known I was going to have 3 children I would have got cloth nappies, ah the benefit of hindsight! Great resource for those yet to make a decision though

  2. I was obsessed with them with baby #2... now with #3 not so much, but we still use them, and no, it's not too hard, I'll definitely agree with that.

  3. I have always been a cloth nappy fan, the idea of all that landfill caused by disposables just didn't sit well with me. For my first two girls I used terry towelling, mainly on account of MCN not really being heard of back then (OMG how old does that make me feel) Anyways by the time number three came along MCN's were a big thing and I loved using them. I never found them to be more work and loved how unlike the terries there was no wet patch. Thanks for getting such great info out there about the wonders of MCN, I hope you can get some converts

  4. Haven't things changed since the terry tolling nappies my mum used to use. I remember folding my brothers nappies for her each night in front of the TV. Now, they are so cute and sound easy to use. I used disposable, mainly as I needed to prioritise things and that fell by the way side. Do they help them toilet train quicker?Got a pretty cute model there :) x

  5. I just had a quick look on their site, do you know if they do a swim nappy?

  6. I'm a cloth nappy addict too! I just love the look of all those fluffy, bright and colourful MCNs tucked together in your basket. I recognise a couple of those itti bitti prints which I also have in my stash. I still use flats and prefolds sometimes when my stash is running low on a long stretch of rainy days (especially in winter) as we don't have a dryer. But MCNs really have completely turned around the whole business of using cloth nappies

  7. They don't do a specific swim nappy, but I have always just used the Bitti Tutto shell without the inserts! And then just rinse them out afterwards, it keeps all the poop in place, and no code browns in the water haha!

  8. Gosh they are so super cute and I love all the gorgeous designs! I was always too afraid to try cloth, so it was disposable all the way - but I guess for generations upon generations cloth nappies raised humanity, maybe it will swing back that way again one day?

  9. I wish I had read a post like this when I was still deciding! I definitely fell into the 'it's all just too hard' category!! Oh and little Willow is just too cute!! Xxxx

  10. I love love love cloth nappies. But lately I have become lazy and have not kept us with the laundry and have run out of nappy liners. But seeing the bin fill up with disposables is so not nice. A great post. I use hippybottomus. I also use a disposable at night could not be dealing with leaks along with sleep deprivation!

  11. Fantastic post! I started with the old style cloth nappies (because my mum brought me a heap of them but I did find it all overwhelming) which led me after a lot of guilt to switch to disposable nappies. I will be sharing this post on my FB page.

  12. Great post for those new to MCN. It can be very overwhelming and all just too hard so people don't bother. I have always used MCN, and my eldest just turned 10. I started mostly with Baby Beehinds, and still mostly use those with a few others thrown in.

  13. Can I just say thank you, so much, for this post. I'm pregnant with my first child and have been really considering cloth nappies as a way to save money on one income and this whole post has just been such a wonderful read for me! I will definitely be looking into getting some of these nappies. Thank you again!

  14. I think my comment disappeared so I'll try again :) I never used cloth nappies but only because I worked for Huggies for years and wash brainwashed :) I would totally use them though if I got to do it all over again. and more importantly your munchkin is soooo darn cute!!!