guide to using cloth nappies

Cloth Nappy FAQ's

Cloth vs disposable?

Environmentally there’s no choice. In NZ we dump 1 million nappies every day into landfills (which are said to take up to 500 years to breakdown) (, while cloth nappies can be washed and reused time and time again.

Many nappy web sites cite the fact that there are health concerns about disposables and the chemical nasties they contain.

Last, but absolutely not least there's no doubt that over time you'll spend more on disposables.

Over the lifetime of a nappy-wearing child, you will use about 6,000 "disposables", at an average cost of say $0.45 = $2,700.
Plus the cost of rubbish bags ($1.30 ea) and your total cost is $2770.
If your child uses more nappies, the cost increases eg: 6,500 "disposables" will cost $2925.
Double-that for second and subsequent children.

Compare that to an $600 - $800  investment in  modern cloth nappies and a few packs of nappy liners at around $12 per pack.
* you'll need around 20 nappies at the initial stage, washing every 2nd day.

Modern cloth nappies:

Modern cloth nappies are excellent alternative. They are far more absorbent than the old style cloth nappy and are easy to put on (no folding, no pins!).


Nappies come in many brands and styles.

It's a matter of deciding which one that will works for you, your baby and your budget.

Buying modern cloth nappies involves initial investment of around $600-800 for 20 nappies but you can start off slowly and build up your cloth nappy supply until you have eliminated disposables completely.

Also, consider asking friends/relatives to give you one or two nappies as a "baby shower" gift.

Take into account:

  • over time you will spend more money on disposables
  • cloth nappies are reusable and have less impact on the environment
  • modern cloth nappies have great resale value on Trade Me.

Nappy Subsidies:

Many councils in NZ have introduced subsidy schemes to encourage people to use cloth nappies (although these schemes start/stop from time-to-time). Check with your local council.

How do I start?
Most nappies are now OSFA (One Size fits all) which means that they will fit most babies from birth to potty. However all babies are different!

You can start on Prefolds while your baby is a newborn or move straight into OSFA nappies.

Prefolds are an economical choice and good fit on a newborn baby - while they are requiring 8-10 changes per day and doing lots of runny poos!
So many parents start with eco disposables, or prefolds (nappy & cover).

We stock Bambino Mio prefolds which have beautifully soft covers and  we recommend the Mio Intro Kit which is a great way to try the nappies.

OSFA (One Size Fits all Nappies)
We stock two great tried and trusted brands. Both brands have been around since the beginning of the modern cloth nappy revolution!

Fuzzibunz Pocket Nappies which are a perfect from newborn to potty with their clever patented adjustable elastic around the legs and waist.
With pocket nappies, both the nappy & insert is washed each time the nappy is changed but you can vary the number of inserts you use according to how much the child wets.

AIO's (All-in-ones)
We stock the Mio Solo and Close Pop-in AIO's.
In an AIO, the insert is attached to the nappy, and has a unique pull-out tab system for for improved washing performance and fast drying.
Although the core pulls out, it stays attached and has a cleverly designed tuck-in pocket for easy insertion.
Further Reading: Which nappy?

Extras: (recommended)

  • washable cotton liners, or
  • flushable paper or viscose liners (help with clean-up)
  • Nappy Wet Bag (to store nappies while you are out & about)
  • Nappy Bucket

  • We do not recommend washing and reusing flushable liners as this may clog your washing machine.

Follow the manufacturer's recommendations.

Never use fabric conditioner as it contains makes the nappies less absorbent!

Drypail method:
(most common with MCN) you scrape/flush off the poos and store in a covered nappy bucket for 2-3 days until your next washload. If the bucket gets smelly, you can add a couple of drops of teatree or lavender.

Drying: Dry in sunshine (best of course!) or tumble dry on a low setting.

Smelly nappies?

First check your washing powder: Environmentally-friendly soap powders can interact with urine to cause smells (particularly bad with PUL and fleece overnaps). Try a plant-based liquid wash instead eg Ecostore.

Wash cycle: Nappies left lying around for days will get smelly. Wash more regularly and use a heavy duty cycle if necessary.

Soaking: Once a week, you can soak your nappies/covers in a whitening powder.
Soak for an hour or so, then wash without any other detergent.

Eco-friendly whitening powders are now available in supermarkets - brands include B.E.E., EcoStore and Next Generation. Whitening powders are also a good laundry booster. Follow instructions as directed.

Please note: Whitening powders should not be used with some nappies/covers Check the nappy manufacturer's washing instructions first.

To remove stubborn smells: You can wash your nappies in 1-2 Tbsp of eco dishwashing detergent in a hot wash. Repeat in a hot wash with no detergents at all.

Cloth Nappy Manufacturers now advise against using vinegar and baking soda because excessive use has lead to some problems with elastic and PUL.



Check out the selection of preloved nappies we have instore.

In the US, you can buy and sell your clean, used cloth nappies on eBay. Although, I have read that eBay (in the UK) have banned the sale of used cloth nappies, so try the Cloth Nappy Tree instead.  


Newborn Hire Kits:

The The Nappy Network has a list of places you can get Hire Kits from.


Make your own:

Check out The Nappy Network or The Diaper Jungle for patterns to make your own fitted cloth nappies.

Kits, fabrics and notions are available in NZ through Greenbeans.


Night time Training Pants: (for big kids)

Mum & Bubs (Happy Heiny’s Pocket Trainers) go up to 30kg



Nappy Accessories
  Mio Liners
Bioliners, bottom balmes and wipes available from our webstore.

Further reading

Choosing your nappies
(The Nappy Network)

The Nappy Lady web site.

Nappy forums

New Zealand -
The Nappy

The product reviews are a useful feature of this site.

United Kingdom/
United States-

Cloth Nappy Blog

Change mat

A non toxic alternative to a plastic changing mat is a baby sheepskin. Cover with a cloth nappy. The sheepskin is really soft and warm for baby and the nappy is easily washed.

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