Reusable cloth nappies offer a fantastic, eco-friendly alternative to disposable nappies. We often find that if people are unfamiliar with using reusable nappies, there seems to be a common stigma around them with concerns such as "I don't have time for any more washing" or "how do I clean soiled nappies, it's gross" frequently being sited as reasons not to use them. Reusable cloth nappies certainly will not suit everyone's needs or situation. But for those who are keen to give them a whirl because of their enormous benefits to the environment, we think more often than not - people will share our positive experiences with them and will find them surprising easy to use. Once you've found a flow with them that easily fits into your life and schedule, they're so fantastic, and the reduction in household waste is flabbergasting. We had visions of having to clip terry towels together like they did 30 years ago. This couldn't be further from the truth! Leading reusable cloth nappy brands offer an excellent and incredibly durable product which is designed to be washed time and time again - for years in fact, without diminishing in quality. The nappies often come sporting beautiful and funky prints, and they are made from soft, toxin-free materials that feel lovely and soft against baby's skin.
In this article we tell you all about one of our favourite cloth nappies - Tickle Tots 2. We tell you what they're made from, how they work, and how to care for them. We've tried many brands and there are some great options out there. Tickle Tots nappies get 5 stars from us because we love the prints, they rarely or never leak, the velcro fasten makes them very easy to put on even when baby is wriggling around, they are made using the most eco-friendly materials possible, and the two-part system allows you to increase or reduce the amount of padding required depending on what your baby needs, and the time of day or situation.
Disposable Nappy Facts:
690,000 babies are born each year in the UK alone, each and each baby will be changed approximately 5,500 times in their first two years of life. That's 5,500 nappies, per child, that will be sent to landfill sites because there is no other way to get rid of them. In landfill, they will take 400+ years to degrade and during this time they will release harmful chemicals into the air and land. Hundreds of thousands of trees are cut down each year to make disposable nappies. And billions of gallons of fuel is also required to manufacture them. The middle of the nappy is also packed with toxic chemicals.
Reusable Cloth Nappy Facts:
A family will need to invest in 15–20 reusable nappies if they use them full-time, and these will last baby until they're ready for potty training. You can use the same set of nappies for two children. It has been calculated that this will save a family over £600 per child, compared to buying disposables, even when you factor in the additional washing machine usage required. Your household waste will be reduced by up to half according to the Government's Waste & Resources. It takes 3.5 times less resources to manufacture and care for modern cloth nappies compared to disposable nappies. No harmful chemicals are used. If you choose a leading brand, the fabrics used will be tested to Oeko Tex 100 standards, meaning that every thread used is harmless in human ecological terms.
When you consider the benefits of using reusable nappies, we find it so surprising that they are still not the mainstream option!
Tickle Tots 2
The Tickle Tots 2 is a 2 part nappy system consisting of an outer waterproof shell with ‘snap in’ absorbent boosters.
The shells come in a range of lovely prints, and they barely diminish in quality even after washing hundreds of time. Each shell comes with a set of 2 snap-in boosters - you simply use the poppers to attach them to the shell. You can choose to use one or both of the boosters depending on the situation, time of day, and needs of your baby. They really do offer maximum absorbency when using the 2 together!
The outer shell is made using breathable PUL fabric, the inside of nappy is lined with an absorbent bamboo fleece which offers quick drying, and the boosters are made with layers of bamboo fleece with a suede cloth top. Bamboo has been chosen instead of microfibre or cotton, as it is super soft, absorbent and naturally antibacterial. Plus it's the most sustainable option as bamboo is a fast-growing crop that does not require harmful pesticides in order to thrive.
Tips For Using Reusable Cloth Nappies
Every family will find their own way to make the nappies work for them. Here are some tips from The Eco Shop and Tickle Tots.
Before using the nappies, pre-wash them by separating all parts of the nappy, and washing on a 40 degree wash. Do not use fabric softener, and use non-bio powder. Tickle Tots recommend you wash the boosters twice before use to achieve maximum absorbency. Line-dry all parts of the nappy.
We highly recommend that you invest in wet bags. They are available from Tickle Tots and other similar brands. We generally have two or three on the go - one with clean nappies and reusable wipes, one sitting ready by the washing machine for dirty nappies, and then one packed and ready for when you go out. The bags are waterproof and odour proof and really help nappy management.
Managing Soiled Nappies
Soiled nappies are never fun! But if you look after them, even the most soiled nappies will come out brand spanking new after a hot wash! We recommend that you tip out what you can into the toilet, then rinse the nappy and boosters until it's free of solids. You could rinse in the toilet, or you could set up a separate bucket for doing this. Make sure the nappy is rinsed with cool water prior to going in the machine, as this will ensure they come out super clean and that no residue ends up being stuck in your machine or on any other items that are washed. You could store rinsed nappies in a lidded bin or in a wet bag.
After you have removed a wet or dirty nappy fold close the Velcro laundry tabs. This stops the nappies from sticking together in the wash and damaging the bamboo lining and inserts. If the nappy is dirty, flush any solids and give your nappy a rinse under a cold tap. Warm or hot water can 'set' stains and make them harder to remove. Never leave your nappies to soak in a sanitiser, bleach, or stain remover as this can seriously damage the waterproof PUL outer wrap, and degrade the elastic. We recommend washing your nappies every 1-3 days.
When you are ready to do a wash we recommend using a non-biological washing powder. If your nappies are particularly dirty run a cool prewash first, and then wash at 40degrees. It is unnecessary to wash at a higher temperature to clean your nappies, and this can cause premature degradation of the PUL waterproof layer. Use the recommended quantity of detergent as too much can cause a build up on the nappy.
It is not advisable to use a fabric softener on cloth nappies as this affects their absorbency.
- Drying Nappies
Tickle Tots nappies use bamboo as their absorbent layer, as this gives you an incredibly absorbent nappy that is also very slim fitting. However, bamboo does take longer to dry than manmade fibres such as microfibre, or cotton.
Nappies are best line dried as this will help to prolong their life. Remove the boosters, and hand all parts of the nappy separately. You can tumble dry on a low heat, but this will potentially diminish the effectiveness of the PUL lining.
- General Care
Run a cleaning wash through your washing machine once a month to keep it in tiptop condition. I do this by running it empty on a hot wash with no detergent but sometimes with a mineral bleach, or even white wine vinegar to clean it.
Sometimes your Velcro can get clogged up with fluff. It makes sense to de-fluff your Velcro every so often to keep it working well. Use a comb (nit combs are great for this!) and tweezers to clean them.
Make sure you store your nappies when they are completely dry (particularly of storing them between babies!) and out of prolonged direct sunlight. Keep them in airtight vacuum bags if storing for any length of time and give them a wash before using them on the next baby.
If you look after your nappies well, they should last you at least two children, and be a reliable and cost effective nappy.