Reasons not to use cloth nappies

After last weeks blog post, I thought that it might be interesting to look instead at the reasons that people don’t like to use cloth nappies.  So, what are the reasons not to use cloth nappies? And how would I address those concerns? Here we look at ten reasons not to use cloth nappies:

Initial cost

Although the idea of saving around $3,500 dollars on your first child alone, is highly tempting, once people realise that they may have to spend $500-$1000 dollars actually setting themselves up with cloth nappies, they can get put off.  Especially as new babies tend to come with quite a few other big purchases.  Fortunately though, there are quite a few ways to make things a bit cheaper. One option is to spread the cost, buying just the smaller sizes to begin with, or by taking advantage of layby.  Another great option is to consider second hand cloth nappies, if you look around you can often pick up good condition, preloved cloth nappies, fairly cheaply.


One of the major factors that turns people off the idea of cloth, is that disposables are just so easy and convenient.  Why would you want to go to the trouble of washing a nappy when you can just throw it away, and in today’s busy lifestyle, a lot of people just feel that  they haven’t got the time to deal with cloth.  In actual fact, using cloth nappies is not as much work, or as inconvenient as people imagine.  There’s nothing wrong with using disposables from time to time, if you need to either, in some situations, going on a plane, in hospital or just away from home, you may prefer not to use cloth.  Although we do have some hints for travelling with cloth.

Trim fit

I will fully admit that a cloth bottom is generally quite a bit bigger than a disposable covered one, and sometimes this can mean that clothes do fit differently.  Modern cloth nappies and prefolds like ecobots are much trimmer fitting than old fashioned cloth nappies though.  Using cloth does mean that you might have to choose slightly looser clothing for your children, or even the next size up.  For me though, you can’t beat the cuteness of a cloth bottom.

Extra washing

Extra washing one of the reasons not to use cloth nappies

It’s true with cloth, you are going to be doing more washes, and I can see for some people that this might be one of the reasons not to use cloth nappies.  Although it does mean an extra load every few days, you might find that in other ways you have less washing.  One of the big advantages of cloth nappies, is that they tend to hold newborn poo explosions better.  You may find with cloth nappies that you have far less washing after it’s gone all up their back, down their legs and into their socks…… Children create more washing in any case, although my older three children are out of nappies now, I can’t see that I’ve noticed any great decrease in the amount of washing that I now need to do.

Cloth nappies are no better for the environment

I mentioned this report in my last blog, and when it comes to reasons not to use cloth nappies, it’s wheeled out time and time again.  The report in question was written back in 2005, and made some unusual assumptions; mainly that people using cloth would only do half loads, boil wash and then iron their nappies.  It also failed to address the disposal of disposable nappies, which is surely a pretty major factor.  Since then other reports have done, which have shown that cloth nappies ARE much better for the environment, so this objection really doesn’t stand.  This report was also done in the UK, where more of the power that is used to power your domestic washing machines is produced from fossil fuels than here in New Zealand.

Just can’t be bothered

Really this is an extension of some of our other points, the convenience and the extra washing.  Some people just feel that they can’t be bothered to use cloth nappies on top of all the other things that they need to do for a new baby.  It’s fair enough, new babies are hard work, and I’m not in the business of trying to convince someone that they MUST use cloth nappies.  If people don’t want to, that’s fine, I just want to share some of the advantages.


For some people, the idea of washing a cloth nappy that has had poo and wee in it, in their washing machine is just too much.  Especially the thought of a bucket full of them sitting around in their house for a day or so first.  Of course giving them a quick rinse when you take them off, means that you won’t have such dirty nappies sitting around.  The use of a sanitiser or even essential oil such as tea tree can help to keep your machine clean, and there are ways that you can give your machine a good clean every now and then. (Which is a good idea from time to time, even if you don’t wash nappies in it).  To me, having a disposable nappy sitting around in your rubbish bin for a week, before sending it off to land fill, is far more unhygienic.

You’ve heard that they leak

No body wants leaky nappies, not you, not your baby and not me.  On the whole though, despite what disposable manufactures would have you believe, cloth nappies are actually more reliable than disposable nappies.  It does sometimes take a little trial and error to get the combination exactly right, and if you find you are having problems, please get in touch so that I can help out.  We have a few hints here too.

Cute cloth nappies

But my baby will be in daycare

Disposables seem to be the obvious choice if your little one is going to be looked after by someone else, either day care or a family member.  Many child care facilities not only accept cloth nappies, but will be used to using them on other children.  If you are going to send your child in cloth nappies, then you will need to provide a wet bag or nappy bucket to take soiled nappies home in.  It’s also worth only sending one type of nappy with them, so that there’s no confusion about how they are used.

No one else uses them

It is true that disposable nappies are more common than cloth nappies, but in recent years cloth has seen a real growth and resurgence.  You might be surprised to discover just how many parents choose to put their children into cloth.  Have a quick search on facebook even, and you’ll find a number of cloth nappy discussion groups, as well as buy and sell forums to pass on your nappies to other parents when you have finished them.  Everyone might not use cloth, but more and more people are discovering the advantages.

So there you have it, reasons not to use cloth nappies, and our thoughts on them.


2 thoughts on “Reasons not to use cloth nappies

  1. Hi my mother has bought us second hand cloth nappies for you baby due in april this year. My girlfriend and I are concerned about using secondhand nappies from a hygiene standpoint. What is your position on this? Is it of concern or are their ways to deal with this naturally. Thanks

    1. Hi, second hand nappies usually aren’t a problem. It does depend what kind you have, but assuming that they are ecobots or similar, then for the nappies themselves I would recommend giving them a good hot wash with a long rinse. Hang them out on the line, for a couple of days if you can, just to let the sun get at them and brighten them up. The covers shouldn’t need anything more than a good wash and rinse. If they smell as though they have been washed in anything quite scented, then you can always soak, just in water over night, as some powders or additives can build up and cause absorbency or smell issues. Hope this helps and if you have any other questions, please let me know.

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