Using washable nappies reduces the amount of waste sent for incineration, along with the amount of energy and non-renewable resources used to produce disposable nappies.
How practical are washable nappies?
Modern washable nappies are really practical and are available in over 30 different types and patterns.
They consist of a soft, absorbent nappy liners, and waterproof, breathable covers (wraps). Washable nappies wash and dry easily because they are made of lightweight, fluffy materials eg:
They also fit snugly. For quick and easy fastening, nappy pins have been replaced with:
- velcro fastenings
- plastic grips
If you're worried about using washable nappies when travelling, then you could always use disposables whilst you're away.
The types of washable nappy that are available
There are three main types of washable nappies:
- flat nappies
- shaped nappies
- all-in-one nappies
Flat nappies, such as the traditional terry square, need to be folded to make a pad, then secured with a plastic fastening and covered with a wrap. There are also pre-folds which are flat squares of cotton. These are used by most laundry services, and prices start at a very reasonable £2 each.
Shaped nappies are designed to fit your baby snugly. Some sizes go from newborn to potty training age. They require an outer wrap. Prices start from around £7.50 each.
All-in-one nappies include a cotton liner and a waterproof cover with fastenings. Prices start from around £10 each.
What you need to get started
All you need to get started is:
The nappy itself is the absorbent part. You will need around 20-30 of these.
The inner liner catches solids and helps to keep moisture away from your baby’s skin. Reusable, washable liner pads are available. Paper liners are also available, and can be flushed down the toilet if soiled (or thrown into a household bin if just wet).
The outer wrap or cover is the fun part with a range of styles and bright colours. These are made in a range of materials like:
- waterproof PVC
The wrap sizes alter as your baby grows. To begin with you will need at least three wraps that you can wash at 40°C.
How much will it cost?
You will need to spend an initial outlay to get the required amount of nappies, but you will only need to pay this once. With disposables you will be spending money on them on a weekly basis.
From birth to potty each baby typically gets through between 4,000 and 6,000 nappies. This number of disposable nappies will cost roughly £1,000. The approximate cost of purchasing and home laundering washable nappies for 2.5 years ranges from £185 to about £500 depending on nappy type. You can save even more by using the same washable nappies for your second child.
How to wash and dry washable nappies
Washable nappies don’t need to be:
- machine washed at 95°C.
They can simply be placed in a separate laundry container and washed at 60°C. Modern washing machines wash so well that washable nappies do not have to be sterilised.
Biodegradable nappy liners can be flushed down the toilet with any solid waste, and washable liners can go in the wash with your nappies.
Once they are washed, most washable nappies can be line or tumble dried or simply placed on an airer in a warm room to dry.
If you don't want to wash your washable nappies yourself, then a local laundry service is available from Pants in Paradise.
Your baby is no more or less likely to get nappy rash from washable nappies than from disposable nappies. The frequency of nappy changes is the important factor when trying to avoid nappy rash.
Do they leak?
As long as you select the right size for your baby’s shape, then you should avoid leakages. There is a wide choice of products available so take time to select the nappies that offer the best fit.
You can also use booster pads to increase the absorbency of the nappy.
Washable nappies suppliers
Local advice from mums using washables with their babies is available from Cheeky Beans. Cheeky Beans are also an agent for different brands of washable nappies and have a number of trial kits available to hire so that you can test different types before buying your own kit. Cheeky Beans are also available to visit community groups to demonstrate washable nappies and share their experiences.
Usednappies.co.uk is a specialist website for parents buying and selling second hand washable nappies.
You can also contact Go Real, the washable nappy information service. Advice from Go Real is free and is provided by mums with experience of washable nappies.
A free information leaflet (available in English, Portuguese and Polish) and DVD explaining the different types of washable nappies are available from the States of Jersey Recycling Officer.
Go Real website