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FAQs about Cloth Nappies

What are the environmental benefits of using real nappies?

Real nappies are by far the best option for the environment.

Using the most environmentally friendly type of cloth nappy (a natural fibre cloth nappy with a wool wrap, for example a bamboo little lamb cloth nappy with a woolly wrap) will contain no plastic what so ever and contain only naturally sourced materials and will therefore have very little impact on our delicate environment.

Even our real nappies with a built in waterproof layer contain very little plastic and will be used time and time again compared to the wastefulness of using disposables.

How do I wash real nappies?

No special care is needed in washing real nappies. There is no need to boil and wash at 90 as suggested. Wash at 40 or 60 with half the amount of washing powder you would usually use depending on level of soiling of the real nappies. A prewash can be done for extra dirty cloth nappies to remove excess dirt and an extra rinse is recommended to remove all traces of soap. Be sure not to use and fabric softener as this can coat the cloth nappies making them less absorbent.

Cloth nappies can be air dried on clothes horses or on the line and many can be tumble dried on a medium heat if necessary.

How many cloth nappies will I need?

This depends on the age of your baby as younger babies tend to get through more cloth nappies than older ones. We advise you to allow approximately 7 cloth nappies per day on average (this is including 1-2 for back up) so you will need approximately 14-20 cloth nappies (20 recommended for newborns and young babies) allowing you to do a wash on alternate days. We find cloth nappies work as well as disposables when stuffed right so you should be able to get at least 3 hours out of each nappy.

What else will I need to use with my cloth nappies

You will need a bin or bucket to store your dirty cloth nappies in. This will need to have a lid to keep the smells contained. (tip- to keep it fresh try soaking a cotton bud in tea tree or lavender oil and taping it to the lid of the bucket).

A mesh bag is handy to put your cloth nappies in and makes transferring from bin to washing machine easy!

How many hours can I expect from a cloth nappy?

This depends on how old the child is, as older children wet more heavily, but on an average stuffed cloth nappy (one insert & one booster) you should expect to get 3-4 hours out of them before changing. For longer periods in cloth nappies (car journey or overnight) you can add additional stuffing to the cloth nappy, but must obviously change the real nappy as soon as baby poos. You can tell if the baby needs changing sooner as they usually feel slightly damp around the leg elastic of the cloth nappy.

How do I prevent leaks from a cloth nappy?

This is our most frequently asked question so we have listed all the possible causes of leaking and what to do in each case.

  • Ensure your cloth nappies are at full absorbency by washing them enough times prior to use. Microfibre needs to be washed at least once to reach full absorbency, hemp and bamboo (due to the natural oils in the fabric) can take between 5-8 washes to reach full absorbency.
  • Absorbency of the cloth nappy will decrease considerably if the cloth nappy has a build of washing powder or if fabric softener has been used. Always follow the washing instructions for the individual nappies where they are given, but as a rule, you should use between ľ to Ĺ of the detergent you would normally use when washing cloth nappies. Never use fabric softener.
  • Your cloth nappy may leak if not fitted properly. To ensure a secure fit; buy the right size or set on the correct size setting. To see if it is too big, lift your babyís leg to ensure there is no gaping. Too small nappies will be to low in the rise and leave red marks where too tight.
  • Make sure clothes fit properly and arenít too tight around the cloth nappy area (tights/trousers) as this extra pressure will cause moisture to Ďwickí around the leg and become damp.
  • Donít expect cloth nappies to last on long journeys in car seats etc without extra boosting as this will again cause wicking due to extra pressure.

How do I remove stains from my cloth nappy?

Cloth nappies arenít that easily stained and many fade out wit use, However here are some stain busting options to try on your cloth nappies:

  • Sunlight is the best stain remover for cloth nappies, it is natural and effective. Just place your cloth nappies and their inserts in the sun and the stains should bleach out.
  • Another natural stain remover is to hang your nappies out on the line on a cold, clear night when frost is expected. Frost is supposed to make your nappies lovely and white!
  • A small amount of ace bleach or similar (suitable to use on wool and coloured items) will make your inserts lovely and clean again.

My cloth nappy still smells after washing, what can I do?

This is commonly caused by a build up of detergent on the cloth nappy so there are several things you can do.

  • Firstly reduce the amount of washing powder used and stop using any fabric softener if you are using any. Soap nuts have proved successful for some people as a natural alternative. Beware of the washing powders with built in fabric softener. The softening properties coat fabric to make it soft and therefore reduce absorbency of cloth nappies.
  • If you want; you can deodorise your cloth nappies with some cloth nappy sanitizer or with a few drops of lavender/tea tree oil in the fabric softener compartment of the washing machine. This is a natural anti bacterial alternative to sanitizer and works fantastically at giving your cloth nappies a subtle fresh fragrance.
  • At every given opportunity get your cloth nappies on the line to dry! The fresh air will deodorise wonderfully and the sunlight will naturally sanitise and bleach out any stains, not to mention how cute all your cloth nappies will look all lined up blowing gently in the breeze!
  • You can put your cloth nappies in a wash with no detergent at all (prewashed of course) to remove excess soap suds, rinse until bubbles are no longer visible.
  • In the worst case scenario you can strip your cloth nappies. We have given you two different ways to do this below.

Stripping your cloth nappies.

  • 1. Fill your sink with soapy washing up liquid water and scrub your cloth nappies gently with a scrubbing brush followed by several rinses in the washing machine until all suds are gone.
  • 2. Alternatively you can put your cloth nappies directly into the machine with fairy liquid in the washing powder compartment and wash this way. Once again you will have to rinse until the water runs clear and do be prepared to do rather a lot of these.

HINT- washing up liquid cuts through grease hence removing any build up.

HINT- It is very important to rinse until the water runs clear, otherwise you wonít fully remove the soap suds and this wonít solve your problem or completely strip your nappies.

What are the different types of fabrics used in real nappies?

  • Bamboo A naturally sourced environmentally friendly material. It grows without use of pesticides. This material is highly absorbent and stays slim and therefore makes a perfect insert for a cloth nappy. Will shrink slightly with washing and become more absorbent up to 8 washes.
  • Hemp A super absorbent and super thin material used in nappy inserts.Has fantastic long term wee storage abilities as it doesnít let go of liquid. It is usually used as a booster as is slower to absorb liquid than some other fibres. Will shrink slightly with the first few washes and becomes more absorbent up to the 8th.
  • Cotton Can be used as inserts or boosters, this is one of the cheapest types of inserts. It is of average absorbency, washes and dries well and can come in organic options. Cotton velour, found in the EcoNappi is incredibly soft and velvety.
  • Microfibre A manmade fibre used for both inserts and boosters. It is quick to absorb and a very thirsty material. It acts like a sponge so although it absorbs quickly, if it is oversaturated it will squeeze back out which is why it is recommended to have some hemp or bamboo beneath to hold and store liquid.
  • Terry towelling The old fashioned, classic nappy material; Brushed cotton like a towel. The cheapest option, it is quick to absorb and easy to wash and dry.

    Click here to go to the Inserts and boosters section!

  • PUL Short for Poly urethane Laminate is waterproof plastic (polyurethane) which is laminated onto polyester (the cloth nappies outer fabric). The PUL comes in two thicknesses with real nappies; 1 mil or 2 mil. The PUL allows freedom of movement allows the skin to breathe and has a natural stretch making it a comfortable waterproof option for cloth nappies.

    PUL is not a biodegradable material but is long lasting and durable in reusable nappies and is therefore so much more eco friendly than using disposable nappies.

    PUL will be damaged by acids and bleach so do not soak your nappies in napisan or similar and donít use vinegar in your nappy washes. A gentle tumble dry can help to reseal the waterproof layer of PUL, so is recommended from time to time.

  • Fleece A man made fabric made from 100%. This is commonly used on the inside of real nappies closest to the babyís skin. It is a soft fabric with water repelling properties so once liquid is absorbed into the cloth nappy it wonít come back in contact with babyís skin keeping in dry and baby comfortable.

    Fleece washes and dries easily and due to its water repelling nature, will come out the washing machine almost dry. Is commonly used in nappy liners and wraps also.

  • Suede cloth Is also made from 100% polyester. It is a soft and smooth fabric which repels moisture and keeps babies bottom dry. An alternative to fleece for cloth nappy insides.

    If you are looking for a natural fibre inside your cloth nappy then the Bumgenius Organic cotton nappy, or the Woolywraps over Little Lambs Bamboo or Terry Cotton are natural alternatives.

  • Wool wraps Wool is a naturally waterproof fibre. When lanolised, it will keep moisture within the nappy but allowing the skin to breathe. Wool is a very cool option for a nappy wrap; they are soft, slim, and the most environmentally friendly option available.

    How do I lanolise a wool wrap?

    Wool wraps will need lanolising every couple of weeks to ensure they are waterproof. Lanolin is natural oil produced by sheep to keep their wool coats water tight.No harm comes to the animals extracting lanolin as it is simply taken from the wool coat.

    You can buy special lanolin products to lanolise your wool products.This usually involves soaking the wool in a lanolin solution over night and allowing drying.

    Once lanolised, wool wraps will only need to be air dried and washed occasionally before re-lanolising.

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