Common Cloth Nappy Myths

By Amy, The Nappy Camper

If you have been thinking about using cloth nappies and have some concerns over the cost, environment, work involved etc then this is the post for you. I’m myth busting to help put your mind at ease. Here are 7 of the many thoughts I had before I used cloth nappies and also some arguments and facts to relate back to the “concerns” your family/friends/colleagues or even strangers might have too.  Let’s face it, people still think of a terry square soaking in a bucket of Napisan after being boiled on the stove when you tell them you’re thinking of using cloth. I just want to take this opportunity to shout from the rooftops.. “IT’S NOT LIKE THAT ANY MORE!!”Phew! What a load off!


1. My Baby’s Hips and Walking will be Affected 

Hip development

A baby’s hip bones will fuse into their sockets between 2 to 3 years of age. The bulk of cloth nappies can help push baby’s hips into an optimum position and can sometimes prevent or correct hip problems. Some doctors will even recommend putting a baby with hip problems in cloth nappies to support the hips as they develop.


Every baby is different and will learn to walk at different stages and ages no matter what is covering their cute little tooshi. My eldest was in disposables and learned to walk at 12 months. My second learned to walk at 14 months and I wish it was longer. The longer they are stationary the less trouble they get in to. Remember that babies have been learning to walk for many years before disposables.


2.  Won’t People Think I’m A Hippy?

Let them! If someone is criticising you for using cloth to help save our planet or for doing something you feel is right for your family then I think it says more about them as a person than it does about you. You do you and let them do them. As the world is slowly waking up to the world of reusable alternatives to everything disposable, it is becoming less and less “hippy” like to care for our planet. Plus what’s so bad about being a hippy anyway??


3. Won’t my Baby be Prone to Nappy Rash?

Nappy rash is typically caused when wee or poo has been next to baby’s skin for too long or baby’s bum has not been cleaned properly after the previous nappy change. Good hygiene practice, frequent changes and nappy free time help to prevent nappy rash for all babies regardless of using cloth or disposables. Cloth nappies are more breathable than disposables and do not contain nasty chemicals or fragrances. I was allergic to disposable nappies as a baby and subsequently to sanitary pads as a teen. Nappy rash is not a nice thing to have at thirteen years old when you’re already conscious that the world is looking at the giant pad between your legs.

My second had nappy rash as a newborn while his skin was acclimatising to this new outside environment and getting used to being peed on. I was determined to get rid of it naturally as nothing I tried was working. After a quick Google I found that Apple Cider Vinegar works well for red eczema and psoriasis. I gave it a shot and it worked like a magic. I put about 1/4 cup of ACV in a small baby bath and bathed him every second day in it, leaving him have some nappy free time afterwards. I poured a solution of 1tbsp ACV to 1 cup of water over his reusable wipes and used them at every nappy change. I also stopped using any cream or coconut oil. Within minutes of the first bath, his rash went from red to pink. Within a week it was completely gone and he has not had a rash since.


4. It’s Too Much Hard Work

Who has time for soaking, boiling and sanitising cloth nappies? Um not many people nowadays! Luckily the design of modern cloth nappies and the advancement of modern washing machines mean that there is no need for the above. It’s recommended to dry pail modern nappies to protect the elastics and PUL fabric. Dry pailing means storing your dirty nappies in a bucket or wetbag without soaking them. Just take off the nappy, plop any solids down the loo and place it in your storage and wait for wash day. Your washing machine does all the hard work for you.

Yes using cloth is more effort than using disposables. Nothing will be as easy as taking a nappy off and chucking it away but it really isn’t as hard as it seems. Establishing a good routine is quickly done and it just becomes another habit like putting the milk back in the fridge. I’ll be honest and say it’s even helped my mental health. That seems weird when I type it but it’s true. It’s happened often that when I’ve felt a little down and lazy, I’ve gotten up to put a wash of nappies on and found myself feeling a little more productive and start cleaning something else after or deciding to take the boys out for a splash in the puddles. Sometimes I just need a reason to get up off my bum.  The benefits of using cloth for the environment far outweigh the minimal extra effort needed to use them.


 5. Is Cloth Really Better for the Environment?

When I started using cloth nappies, I was a little concerned with the amount of water needed to clean them, the energy for the washing machine and the amount of detergent needed...  Okay, I was a lot concerned so I started doing some research and this is what I found.

What is not sometimes considered is the amount of water and energy needed in the manufacturing of disposables. A study by Land Bank Consultancy (1991) used Procter and Gambles (manufacturers of Pampers) own research findings to identify that during manufacturing:

  • Disposable nappies use 3.5 times more energy,
  • 8 times more non-renewable raw materials,
  • 90 times more renewable material than washable nappies.

And through water usage:

  • Disposable nappies produce 2.3 times more wastewater,
  • 60 times more solid waste than washable nappies.
  • Disposable nappies require between 4 and 30 times more land for growing natural materials as reusable nappies. (Landbank Consultancy, London, England 1991)

It is an old study and I would like to see new research so if someone has any information, please contact The Nappy Camper.


6. You Will Change Your Mind When Your House Smells Like Poop

This was legitimately said to me when I told a colleague of my intention to use cloth nappies. I knew it was rubbish then and I certainly know it’s rubbish now. Yes your house would smell like poo if you had a pile of reusable nappies just building up in the corner. That would be gross. Thankfully there are great wetbags and buckets to store them in and contain any smells. FYI nobody’s shit smells like roses and the smell of a full bin of disposable nappies is far worse than using cloth. Trust me!


7. I Can’t Afford to Use Cloth Nappies

This is a common concern and rightly so. Some cloth nappies can be very expensive and when you are looking at buying a full stash of nappies and accessories all in one go, it can seem daunting. Relax, there are options. There is no need to buy everything at the same time if your budget doesn’t allow for it. Take your time and buy one or two a week or a month and use cloth part time until you have built up your stash.

Using disposable nappies from birth to potty training can cost over € 1000 per child,

A stash of cloth nappies and accessories will cost approx €400 to €500 and can be used for subsequent children.

I read recently that if you can’t afford to use reusable nappies then you definitely need to use reusable nappies as they save you a huge amount of money on not just nappies but wet wipes too. Added bonus is that you never have to worry about running out!


So there you have, just some of the concerns or challenges you may come across from people’s opinions and some facts to relate back to them. These concerns can be your own or from someone less educated about cloth. There’s nothing worse than when someone is trying to argue with you and you shout “Yea? Well, you’re ugly” because you don’t have a good comeback. Now you do. Stick that in your pipe Susan! Obviously I’m joking and think kindness is key in educating people on cloth. Educate and lead by example.

Amy, The Nappy Camper

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