This is a second post in The Non-disposables series, where I look at non-disposable alternatives to everyday disposable objects. In my first post I have reviewed an ingenious food wrap, which removes the need for cling film. The more I use it the more amazed I am at how I could live without it! Now it’s time for something all parents know about, or at least they think, they know about. The humble cloth nappies.
If you’ve never come across a modern cloth nappy you are probably thinking what I used to think:fiddly to put on, lots of work, and what do you do with the brown stuff?! The truth is modern cloth nappies are as easy to put on as disposables (not a safety pin in sight), can be washed at 30C (no boiling or ironing needed) and there are very clever liners, which mean you deal with poo only as much as you do with disposables.
We’ve been using cloth nappies with Big F and now we are using them as well with Little S. They are very basic two part nappies with organic unbleached cotton insert and a waterproof wrap. Recently we have been sent what I have always considered the Ferrari of cloth nappy world: cute and fluffy, hassle free, all-in-one TotsBots nappies.
These nappies make other parents actually envious. The designs are so colorful and cute, they are hard to resist. It’s a great way to attract new converts to cloth nappies. According to a study by the environment agency (conducted in 2008) cloth nappies are up to 40% more eco-friendly.
We have been sent a selection of nappies:
EasyFit Star – all in one nappies
Bamboozle – night time nappies
PeeNut wraps – waterproof wraps to go with Bamboozle nappies
fleece liners – to keep the bum dry
I have mentioned that we used cloth nappies with Big F. Unfortunately soon after he turned one we had to stop, as his skin would go all red in the nappy area. Since then he has had about 50:50 biodegradable disposable nappies and conventional disposable nappies. I tried to go back to cloth, but his bum would go red again. Receiving all these lovely nappies and my Zero Waste Challenge inspired me to try cloth again with him. And it worked! He doesn’t go red anymore. If only I knew about the stay dry fleece liners before…
Now that I have two testers (nearly 3 years old and 4 months old) I can do some serious testing. It is rather amazing that Little S at under 6 kg and Big F at 18 kg can wear the same nappy. It is quite an ingenious design: three lines of poppers on the front make the nappy longer or shorter, and the velcro strip allows for easy adjusting on the waist.
I really like these nappies, though I must say that they do take time to dry. I had them hanging outside on, what my mum-in-law calls ‘a good drying day’: some sun with strong wind. In the evening my cotton nappy inserts were dry, while TotsBots still needed an overnight hanging indoors and a boost from towel radiator (we don’t have a tumble dryer). This is not really a problem, it’s just a case of having enough nappies to get you through.
TIP: when drying on a heater place the nappy fluffy side up, otherwise the waterproof part traps the steam and stops nappy from drying.
Oh, yes. We haven’t discussed the brown stuff yet. If you are new to cloth nappies, you are probably waiting to hear what happens with the poo. Well, that depends on your child. Nappies can be lined with a celulose papery liner, which is then flushed together with the poo it stopped from clinging to the nappy. With a small baby (especially a breastfed one) the liner will keep most of the poo and the little that remains gets washed in the washing machine. With a toddler things are a little different. If the poo is small the liner can take it, if it’s a really big one (not the everyday sort) than the nappy does need some rinsing off under the tap before it can be put into the nappy bucket.
That said, I’ve never had a leak in a cloth nappy. Either at runny baby-poo stage or big-poo toddler stage. They just hold things in much better.
Together with the cloth nappies, we have been sent some Potion. It’s a washing powder, which allows to wash the nappies at 30C – to make things even more eco-friendly. I have been using wash balls for about 5 years now, so I wasn’t keen on using any powder at all. Especially that it means a cost on top of buying the cloth nappies. I have used the powder and I found that the nappies still had a faint smell of wee. I’ve never had that problem before.
The instructions particularly say not to use wash balls. I was curious why, so I have written off to customer care. The reply came back promptly that according to product testing wash balls thrashing about in the machine affect the absorbency and generally damage the fabric with long term use. I think I’ll take my chances though, as I find that wash balls remove any smells completely.
All in all I do like these nappies, my baby likes them and my toddler does too. They are not the most eco-friendly option out there – you could buy unbleached organic cotton inserts and wool wrap, which are both fully biodegradable. It woudl mean giving up a little bit of convenience and there’s more maintenance when it comes to wool. But if you want to try to cloth nappies these really are the easiest option:
easy on, just like disposables
comfy for baby
after use fasten wash tabs, pop into a bucket with lid (your official nappy bucket) and wash every other day; when you are out and about put the used nappy into your gorgeous nappy tote bag
hang to dry;
TIP it’s best to hang nappies outdoors in the sunshine, it’s great for removing any stains and sun’s heat is antibacterial
All nappies are made in UK, it’s great to reduce carbon footprint, but also great for the local economy.
There are many fabrics used in producing the nappies, all ethical sourced and some actually made in UK.
All the fabrics and components have Oeko-tex 100 certificate, which means no nasty chemicals have been used in production process.
Whenever possible the transport is overland, to reduce carbon footprint.
Not THE most eco-friendly (PUL coating used to waterproof wraps is not biodegradable), but if the convenience of modern fabrics and cheerful designs will tempt someone who would not consider cloth nappies otherwise, than it’s still much more eco-friendy than disposable nappies.
The delivery service used is CO2 neutral. And the box is well packaged with no room to spare.
PS. We have been sent a set of TotsBots nappies to review. All opinions are my own and entirely honest.