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How cloth nappies work

Using a snappi Folding Cloth nappies Washing Troubleshooting

How cloth nappies work

There are many many different types of cloth nappies on the market, and there are many different ways to use them.  Fortunately, Ecobots are one of the most simple and straight forward types of nappies that you can use.  Easy to put on, easy to change and easy to wash.  Here, we will explain how to use them.  To purchase our nappies, then check out our shopping options here.

With the Ecobots system, you will need:

  • Cotton Nappies
  • Waterproof Covers
  • Disposable Liners
  • Bottom Wiping Cloths
  • A Nappy Bucket with a Fitted Lid

You need to have the right nappy/cover combination. For the prefold insert too big is awkward to fold small enough to fit right, and creates unnecessary bulk, and too small slips around in the cover possibly creating leaks, and may not be absorbent enough to hold all of the liquid necessary. However, nappies can be used in more than one cover size, and smaller nappies can be used as ‘boosters’ alongside larger nappies to increase absorbency, particularly at night.

Baby Weight Covers Required Nappies Required
Premature Babies 900g – 2.7kg 5-6 covers 12-18 prem nappies
Newborns 2.5kg – 4.5kg 5-6 covers 12-18 prem nappies/infant nappies
Small  4.0kg – 6.5kg 4-6 covers 12 infant nappies
Medium  6.0kg – 11.5kg 4-5 covers 12 regular/super nappies
Large 11.0kg – 16.0kg 4-5 covers 12 regular/super nappies
Extra-Large / Toddler
15.5kg – 20.5kg
2-4 covers 6 toddler nappies


These are the waterproof outer layer, that stops clothes from getting wet.

Covers can be wiped and re-used at change time, and only washing every 3-4 changes, or when soiled/smelly. Having covers that fit well ensures a minimum of problems with leaks.  They are also quick and easy to wash and dry, if you want, you can simply hand wash and then leave to drip dry, which will happen very quickly.

Covers are the fantastic Ecobots cover and constructed from PUL (polyester urethane laminate) that is waterproof and breathable. These covers are used in hospitals around the world, so they are made to last!

They have double leg guards for maximum containment and come in a range of sizes, it is important to make sure that you have the right size as if the cover doesn’t fit it might leak.  The covers are sized according to weight – but the fitting around the thigh is important. A young but chunky baby might need the same sized cover as an older baby of the same weight, that is long and slim.

If you are squeezing your baby into a cover that’s too small – pulling the tabs too firmly across a chubby tummy, then do be aware that the extra stress on the tabs will eventually cause the waterproofing to split along the ‘stretchmarks’ on the tabs. Splits will mean that the waterproofing is not as effective along those lines.

If you buy the wrong size for your baby, you are welcome to exchange it (unused and unwashed) for a larger size.

Size Weight
Prem 2-6 lb
Newborn 2.5-4kg
Small 4-6.5 kg
Medium 6 -11 kg
Large 11 – 16 kg
X-Large 16 – 20 kg

Disposable Liners

Ecobots liners are fully biodegradable, made from bamboo fibre. They are very soft but do not wash well, hence we price them accordingly.  They keep the solids off your nappy making it much easier to wash.

If you are using a water-resistant cream, or nappy barrier cream then you can use a liner to protect the nappy from becoming waterproof!

Some people like to use disposable liners just when using rash cream, or when out and about to make changes easier, but manage without when at home normally.  Experiment and see what works well for you.
Bottom Wiping Cloths

If you are using cloth nappies then using cloth wipes may be easier than disposables. You can wash the wipes with your nappies and save money as well as avoiding nasty rashes from reactions with highly perfumed wipes.

Use any cloth (muslin wipes, flannels, etc), you don’t need special lotions or creams, just wet in warm water. Rinse as required, and pop into your nappy bucket.  If you want there are a number of wipe recipes available online, or you can simply add a few drops of lavender oil to your wipe box.

Some people like to have two colours, using one to wipe up sticky hands and faces and the other to wipe bottoms.

A Nappy Bucket with a Fitted Lid

Any bucket with a fitted lid will suffice, the lid will help to keep smells in and flys (and small children) out. You don’t need to soak your nappies, but if you do have water in it – your bucket will need to be toddler-proof in the months to come. You can store your soaking bucket in the bathtub to keep it well out of the way of adventurous children if required. Some parents choose to use two smaller buckets, one for the laundry, and one for next to the changing table.  If you find that your bucket is particularly smelly in the summer months, and you are dry pailing, then a cloth with a few drops of lavender or tea tree oil at the top can help keep it a little fresher, when you wash, simply throw this cloth in with your nappies.


The number of nappies that you require depends on your washing plans. If you plan to wash daily and have drying options available if the weather is wet, you will need fewer nappies than if you choose to wash every 2-3 days.

As your child gets bigger, the number of changes per day you can expect decreases (and so should the incidence of soiled changes) refer to the table above for average numbers. Therefore you will require fewer bigger nappies, or be able to wash less often.
The sizes of nappy you require also depends on how you want to manage things. For instance, infant nappies fit into newborn covers, but they are a bit of a squeeze and can make nappy changing a hassle at a time when you are usually tired, teeny nappies fit much better.

Larger nappies are more absorbent than smaller ones (more fabric), so it might be worth investing in the larger size if you are having trouble with leaks/frequent wetting with a smaller nappy. A snug fit inside your nappy cover will prevent leaks, and stop the nappy sliding around inside the cover and getting dirty when soiled.

Smaller nappies can be used as a booster if two of a larger size are too bulky. You may need to ‘double nappy’ overnight when your baby is sleeping through, or during the day for heavy wetting babies. You could also add a microfibre booster underneath the cotton nappy.


The number of covers you require also depends on washing, but more so on how many soiled changes you have per day, as covers often require changing only when soiled. Unless soiled, covers can be wiped, or rinsed and dried quickly.

When your baby starts sleeping through, you might find that the next size cover up from the one s/he wears during the day fits better with double nappies inside.

If you aren’t requiring a night-time nappy cover of the same size, then 5 covers seem to be sufficient in most situations.

6 thoughts on “How cloth nappies work”

  1. Creams will wash out just fine with a good wash routine :) warm water, good detergent, long wash, loaded correctly – go for it team

  2. Liners should not be flushed, even if biodegradable, unfortunately they clog up council water water systems before they have time to break down. Please don’t flush, save all us taxpayers money. See council advice and news items about it.

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