How I store dirty cloth nappies in between wash days

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I’ve been using cloth nappies full time, right from newborn with my little girl (she’s 18 months old now) and now on my little boy (he’s 6 weeks old now) and I am often asked about the best way to keep/store dirty nappies if you’re not washing every day.

Most of the info out there recommends storing dirty cloth nappies in a basket/container with holes in it, as this gives the nappies air which, contrary to what you might think, makes them less smelly. I didn’t like the idea of having an open nappy bin, and so want to share what I use to store dirty nappies.

As I wash every second day, my dirty nappies aren’t left to get terribly smelly. I also rinse Everly’s night nappies straight away in hot water, and then leave these in a bucket next to the washing machine until wash day. So the nappies that go into the nappy bin are mostly wet (wee) nappies. For poo nappies, I ‘deposit’ the solids into the toilet (depending on just how ‘solid’ things are I may need to also rinse anything left behind off the nappy). I do this with a pair of gloves in the toilet. Then that nappy is either put in the bucket with her night nappies (if it was a shocker of a poo nappy) otherwise it goes into the nappy bin.

I wanted a nappy bin that looked nice in her nursery, and that’s where the Korbell Nappy Bin wins hands down. Even though it’s designed as a disposable nappy bin (and you use it with refillable nappy sack things) I just use it without them and use a washable pail liner from Biddykins instead. On wash day, I take out the pail liner full of nappies, and put everything into the washing machine (pail liner included).

I’ve got two pail liners for Everly…a pink one and a white one. So when one is in the wash, I alway have the other in the nappy bin.

I had planned on using Everly’s nappy bin for Aaron, but seeing as Everly is still in nappies (she is only 18 months), and the fact that newborns go through SOOOOO many nappies…they can’t practically share one bin. And so, I found another one second hand (I also bought Everly’s second hand) and then bought two more pail liners for Aaron’s bin…a blue and a grey one. If you’re wondering where to look for second hand baby items, I’ve always had great luck with Facebook marketplace!

I have yet to have any stink issues when using this nappy bin to store dirty nappies, but if you aren’t able to wash every day/every second day, then it might be a different story. When we go away, I generally wash every day as I don’t take ALL our nappies with us, and then I often just use an ordinary bucket. And I have to say, even though the bucket has no lid, it’s not very smelly either. So you could use something similar. I have been told a laundry basket (the ones with the holes in the sides) works well too, and it’s been said that you can add a few drops of tea tree oil on a face cloth and pop that in the nappy bin to help with the smell.

What have you found works best for you when it comes to storing your dirty nappies? Let me know in the comments below!

An ode to cloth nappies - sharing the love for modern day cloth

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My oh my we have come a loooooonnnng way in our cloth nappy journey. I mean look at how teeny tiny Everly was when we first started. I am very proud to say that we have officially made it to this point, doing cloth full time (not an easy feat!) and we have loved (just about!) every moment of it.

Today I’d like to share more on our cloth journey, along with what brands and types of nappies we love, the ones that worked for us in the beginning, and what works for us now. I’m also always SO happy to answer questions, so please feel free to fire away in the comments section below.

The majority of my nappies have come from wonderful local South African businesses, how amazing is that! While a lot of the fancy brands are from overseas, we have incredibly talented ladies like Kerryn from Pokkelokkie who HANDMAKE their own nappies. Pokkelokkie are hands down my favourite brand for hemp flats, and are worth every cent! I’ve used Kerry'n’s newborn hemp flats right from newborn to toddler, as I now use them to boost absorbency in my other nappies.

Newborn - the first few weeks & months:

We mostly used flats and covers (click here for a full post on newborn cloth) for the newborn phase, until she was able to fit into the OSFM (One Size Fits Most size which is the next sizing in cloth nappies). There are basically just two sizes you need to worry about with cloth nappies (Newborn & OSFM) as most toddlers are out of nappies by the time their OSFM stop fitting. But, a lot of brands do make larger sizes for bigger & older toddlers too. I also had a small selection of bamboo fitteds and then my mom also helped me DIY our own flats and pre-folds that we made from cotton receiving blankets

For night time we used pretty much what we were using during the day (flat and covers). Newborns really do go through a lot of nappies, and we ended up changing every 1.5 - 2 hours on some days. Everly was a wonderful sleeper right from the very beginning, sleeping up to 3 hours at a time during the day between feeds, and generally 5 - 7 hours at a time at night (please can her little brother be like this too!!!) but this did mean that her night time nappies really needed to be able to hold up for those long stretches. I would use two hemp flats folded together in origami fold, with a bamboo booster at night, and then a cover.

Here are the types and brands we used (I’m linking to the online stores where you can buy them too…although I can see that some of these particular styles from certain brand are no longer in their stores):

+/-Month 4 - 11

Once Everly got to be about 6kgs, she was finally able to fit (sort of) into the ‘easier’ types of nappies. I say easier, as pockets and AIO (All in One’s) don’t require any folding, you just put them on the same way you would put on a disposable and you’re good to go. We used a mixture of pockets and AIO’s, and then still used flats and covers too.

For nighttime, I found pockets and AIO’s weren’t absorbent enough, and so alternated between flats and covers, and Little Lamb Bamboo Fitteds with a cover.

  • Pockets - a mixture of pre-loved Charlie Banana pockets which were sent to me by a friend in the US and then new Biddykins pockets. I was able to use a microfibre inserts in her pockets until about 5/6 months, after which I had to add a bamboo with the microfibre for more absorbancy. At around 8 months I got rid of the microfibre completely and boosted her pockets with a bamboo and a hemp insert. My bamboo inserts are from Little Lambs and the hemp inserts are from Biddykins.

  • AIO’s - a mixture from Biddykins and Pipapo

  • Hemp Flats - a mixture bought preloved & new in medium size (60cm x 60cm) from SugaBums & Fluff & Stuff

  • Covers: Buttons & Blueberry Coveralls (bought overseas but I have linked to South African stores where you can get your hands on them)

I do have a good giggle when I see how big some of the nappies look on Everly in the photos below. It can be a bit of a struggle getting a good fit when their legs are so teeny tiny, but (apart from the Charlie Banana pockets) she is still wearing the nappies pictured below today (almost a year later!).

A year on and still going strong

Once Everly got to be about a year, her ‘output’ increased drastically, and I found I needed to boost all of her nappies a lot. I also started changing her before every nap, as well as changing after her naps.

I still use a bamboo with a hemp insert with her pockets, and sometimes boost her AIO’s with either a pad folded hemp flat, or a hemp/bamboo insert.

Now her stash is mostly made up of pockets, SIO (Snap in One’s) and AIO’s for daytime, and then for night time I use a mixture of hemp flats, pre-folds and bamboo fitteds. I was using Little Lamb Bamboo Fitteds, but found that they weren’t holding up very well and I was getting leaks. There are loads of great tips for troubleshooting leaks, but I found that I was having to boost the nappy so much that it was just so big and bulky, that her covers wouldn’t fit properly and thats why I was getting leaks. But we used these Little Lamb fitteds from about 8 months to now. I have been using the same 3 Blueberry waterproof covers since newborn to now, they are my absolute favourite covers, with soft elastic at the legs, and a double gusset to prevent leaks.

Everly’s Daytime Nappies:

  • She has a mixture of SIO’s (Snap In One’s) or All-In-Two’s from Grovia (which you will soon be able to buy from Biddykins) these are the purple and pink ones below, and I love the Grovia O.N.E.’s. She also has two very special Kylie Co nappies (the floral and white woodland one below), and she also has a couple of Buttons covers and inserts:

Everly’s Nightime Nappies

  • I have two winged Hemp Pre-folds from Kanini. These are the grey ones below. I boost these with a Pokkelokkie newborn hemp flat (these are the same ones I used on Everly when she was a newborn…you really will use your newborn flats all throughout your cloth journey!) which I fold in three, and then a LittleLamb Bamboo Insert.

  • I have 2 Bamboo Fitteds from Sloomb that we only recently got to add to her stash. I got these from a Canadian site called Lagoon Baby and had family bring them over.

  • I have 3 waterproof covers from Blueberry (these are the same ones I used on Everly when she was teeny tiny…they are well worth the price!) but you can also buy lovely covers from Biddykins.

  • Snappies to fasten nappies (I bought most of my Snappies from Pep).

And now for some incredibly cute on the bum shots:

My stash has changed a lot over the past 16 months, and I’m glad I took everyones advice when I started down this path, and that was not to buy all of the same brand/type before baby arrived. I was advised to build up a variety of brands and types, so that I could see what fitted baby the best, as well as what styles I preferred to use. I had family visit the UK just before Everly arrived, and that’s where I bought a lot of my ‘fancier’ overseas brands to try out. Cloth nappies can be as cheap or as expensive as make them, and trust me when I say it becomes addictive! I also bought a variety of nappies pre-loved (second hand) from the South African Cloth Diaper Buy/Sell/Trade Facebook group. This is an excellent place to start looking and building up your stash because you can get some great deals on nappies that people bought but didn’t end up using/didn’t work for them.

I also HIGHLY recommend browsing through the South African Cloth Nappy Users website, as they have everything you need to know about where to start with cloth nappies, how to troubleshoot problems you may experiece along the way, as well as loads of info on all things cloth.

Here are all my posts on cloth nappies (including how to do newborn cloth and what we used, as well as how to wash your nappies).

Let me know if you have any questions at all…I really am passionate about cloth and love sharing what I’ve learned with people.

{2018} 8th Annual Flats and Handwashing Cloth Nappy Challenge

#FlatsChallenge Annual Flats & Handwashing Cloth Nappy Challenge South Africa Cloth Diaper Challenge CityGirlSearching Blog-01.png

Hello, my name is Roxy and I'm a cloth nappy mommy!

My little girl, Everly Rose, is just over 8 months old, and from the day we brought her home from the hospital, we have been using cloth nappies (or cloth diapers for my US friends).

There are lots of reasons why I decided to go the cloth nappy route:

  • The Environment: living out on a farm means there is very limited access to proper waste disposal. Everything gets burned or buried, and considering a disposable nappy takes 200 to 500 years to decompose (eeeeek!) you can imagine just how bad that is for our environment
  • The Challenge: I love a challenge, and felt even more determined to do cloth nappies full time after a number of people rolled their eyes at my decision, saying 'we'll see how long that lasts'. Haha, call me stubborn, but I was determined to prove them wrong, and here we are, 8 months later and still going strong!
  • Cost Effectiveness: cloth nappies, because they are re-useable, cloth nappies can and will save you money. Of course, this does depend on just how cloth crazy you get when it comes to the prints and designs you can buy. Also, if you use your cloth on more than one baby, the savings are huge! And even when you factor in the cost of washing nappies in your washing machine (electricity, water, washing powder etc) you can and should still be saving when it comes to nappies. 
  • Cuteness: cloth bums are just soooo cute! There are some incredible designs and prints out there, and it's no secret that cloth nappies can become very addictive. I laughed when I first heard someone say this, but let me tell you, it IS addictive!
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Here are some of the other blog posts I've written on cloth nappies:


Tomorrow marks the start of the annual Flats & Handwashing Cloth Nappy Challenge hosted by Jenny over at Cloth Diaper Revival.

For seven days I will be using just flats & Covers, and handwashing them to get them clean. No modern cloth diapers, no washing machines and no tumbledryers. Just simple, affordable cloth diapering!

Although Jenny is based in the US, there are a number of us here in South Africa (like Marisa & Gerda over at Hippie Safari) who are taking part in this fun challenge.


For those of you wondering what on earth the flats challenge is all about, here is some more info for you:

Kim at Dirty Diaper Laundry founded the Flats and Handwashing Challenge eight years ago as a way to bring awareness that cloth diapers are a valid option for families in need, struggling to provide diapers for their baby. 

"Our aim is not to say that every poor family facing the supremely difficult choice of buying diapers or food should use cloth diapers. That would be short-sighted of us to think it's an answer for every family. The flats challenge is a way to show that for families willing and able, babies can be diapered for less than $100 or even $50 and without owning a washing machine. It is a viable option for families who are in homes without washing machines and an effective one." ~Kim Rosas, Dirty Diaper Laundry

Why Flats?

  • Flat cloth nappies are inexpensive. They are the most affordable nappy option, selling for around R50 - R80 depending in the type of fabric when bought new or they can be DIY-ed for free using almost any excess material (receiving blankets, t-shirts, old onesies, terry towels etc.) found in your home.
  • Flat cloth nappies are easy to care for. With only one layer of fabric, flats are easy to handwash and quick to dry! Even the smallest stash of flat cloth nappies work well as they only take a few hours to dry in the warm sun or overnight indoors.
  • Flat cloth nappies are easily accessible. Flats can be found in your local online cloth nappy store (my favourite being Pokkelokkie 's selection of hemp flats). A DIY project to create your own flats stash can be completed in minutes using materials found around your home.

While modern cloth nappies, like pockets and all-in-ones, are excellent diapering options, the simplicity of flats is something to fall in love with. I have quite the varied cloth nappy stash, but from the newborn stage, I've always been a fan of flats. I started by making my own flats out of cut-up receiving blankets, and then slowly started adding hemp flats to my stash. Here are some photos of newborn Everly wearing a hemp flat (left) and a homemade recieving blanket flat on the right.

I also own a number of cotton flats, but I have to say that hemp are the trimmest, and are definitely the quickest to dry. I also love using two hemp flats folded together for night time, and they last a full 12 hours without any leaks!

It's my hope that this challenge inspires you to give flat nappies a try, and that it shows families out there that flats and handwashing are viable, affordable, full time solutions for diapering your baby. And if flats aren't for you (maybe you find the idea of folding too daunting) that maybe you are still up for giving modern day cloth nappies a try for your little one.


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Flats and Handwashing Challenge Rules

Materials Allowed

  • Any flat cloth nappy, store bought or handmade. A flat is defined as 1 single layer of material for easier handwashing and drying
  • One nighttime diaper of your choice, although it is preferred that you make flats work for nights. This nappy must be handwashed
  • Doublers (not inserts meant to be absorbent enough to stand alone) if absolutely necessary
  • Nappy Sprayer
  • Wet bags/Pails
  • Handmade washing machine, such as a camp style washer
  • Non-electric portable washing machine 
  • Waterproof covers, store bought or handmade
  • Detergents, store bought or handmade
  • Snappi, Boingo, or diaper pins
  • Pocket diapers stuffed with FLAT DIAPERS
  • Fleece liners, store bought or handmade
  • Iron to expedite drying or sterilizing diapers
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Materials NOT Allowed

  • Washing machine or dryer
  • Pockets with inserts other than flats, AIOs, Fitteds, Prefolds, AI2s, etc.
  • Flushable liners

Rules for Everyone

  • You cannot use your washer/dryer.
  • If something comes up and you must make an exception, you must disclose this in the Conclusion Survey or on your blog if you are a blogger.
  • There is no limit on the number or flats/covers you can use. However, a reasonable amount is preferred (no more than enough for a day or two of cloth diapering).
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If you'd like to follow along on social media, you can find all the posts related to the challenge under the #flatschallenge and #bringingflatsback hashtags. I'm going to attempt to blog everyday during this challenge, and will be sharing with you how I'm finding it as well as any tips and things I learn along the way. Armed with some snappies, a bucket and a plunger, I'm quite excited (but also nervous!) to start tomorrow!

See you soon!

x

My Cloth Nappy Wash Routine - A How to Guide to Washing Cloth Nappies

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I think 'the washing' is one of the biggest things that puts people off even trying out cloth nappies. I know when I first heard about cloth nappies, my first thought was 'you want me to willingly put poo into my washing machine?!' I really thought the process would be difficult, or time consuming, or just plain old gross...but the reality is, it really just takes an extra 5 minutes of your day once you get into a god routine.

Please do bear in mind that it does take a bit of time to figure out what works best for you and your cloth. Your routine will depend on your water (we have hard boerhole water here on the farm), the kind of nappies you have (I have a good mix of flats & covers, pockets and snap in ones), and the type of machine & detergent you use. The South African Cloth Nappy Facebook group is a wonderful place to troubleshoot and ask for advice. 

And for my Cape Town friends, I have loads and loads of water saving tips that are allowing moms to carry on using their cloth, even in the current water crisis.

Make sure you keep reading to find out more!

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The basics of washing cloth nappies: 

(I'll post my routine down below too)

  • If you are exclusively breastfeeding your baby (ie you aren't feeding formula or solids) then you baby's poo is water-soluble and the poo nappies can go straight into the machine without needing a rinse. This is a personal preference...you may want to rinse them all before hand, as I do now. Although, I didn't for the first four months or so. This first rinse can be done in your machine, or in a bucket/bath before you put them in the machine. Once you start solids (or are feeding formula) you need to rinse the poo nappies to make sure your washing machine doesn't get clogged.

  • Once babies are bigger and eating solids, you can use install a Bidet sprayer/use the shower head on your bath (or even a garden spray bottle) to remove most of the poo before washing. Alternatively, use liners** (flushable/disposable/fleece liners) to catch most of the grossness before rinsing or putting into the machine

  • You need to use a loooonnnnng cycle (so there is lots of agitation i.e. the nappies get rubbed against each other long enough to get thoroughly clean). This is usually the cotton cycle on your washing machine. FYI just because the cycle is long, doesn't mean it uses up more water than the other cycles in your machine.

  • Temperature: Most nappies are safe at 40 Celsius, but make sure to check with the brand/seller before hand. Some nappies can be washed at a higher temperature. I have been washing all of mine at 40C and haven't had any problems. A few loads have even gone through a 60C cycle a few times by accident and all survived.

  • Washing machine should be 3/4 full (you can bulk up a load with towels...even dedicating a particular set of old towels as your nappy towels)

  • No softener should ever be used (this includes washing powders that are '2in1')

  • All Washing Powder/Detergent without softeners are safe to use with cloth (always follow the recommended dosage...a good tip is to follow the amount suggested for 'heavily soiled'). I use Ariel powder, and use Ariel liquid for our clothes and towels.

  • Technically, it's recommended to do a wash and 2 rinses: ie a pre-rinse in the machine, then a long wash cycle, and then a final rinse. See my routine below for how I've adapted this slightly.

  • I have started tumble-drying my nappies (on low heat) and found this just makes my life SO much easier. And the nappies come out super soft (in the case of my hemp flats and cotton/bamboo fitteds). Most people I have spoken to warned against tumble drying nappies as they said extensive heat could damage the natural fibres (ie the hemp/bamboo). If you have pockets, these generally dry very quickly and you wouldn't need to tumble dry.


How often should you wash your nappies?

I wash every day. Why?**

  1. Because I don't have a HUGE stash of nappies,

  2. I don't like dirty nappies sticking around

  3. I love doing laundry...haha call me crazy!) but you can wash as often as you like. Most moms I know wash every 2 - 3 days.

**Everly is now using less nappies than she was when I first wrote this post, and now I wash every second day. Although since having Aaron (I actually do the odd wash every day when he has gone through loads more nappies than usual).

Bear in mind drying time. Hemp nappies take a lot longer to dry than microfibre or cotton.

If you live in a humid area, your nappies will probably take longer to dry. This is also a big reason I chose to use flats and covers for the first few months. They dry SUPER fast. Some nappies can be popped in the tumble dryer to speed up the drying process (just make sure to read your labels/ask the seller about tumble driers). Also note that nappies with a plastic/waterproof cover & covers shouldn't be exposed to the sun. These can either be dried in the shade (most covers dry within an hour or so) or turned inside out so the PVC (plastic part) is not exposed to the sun.


What about those horrid stains?

You won't even believe it, but the majority of nappy stains will disappear in the sun! For any stubborn stains that aren't removed by the sun, you can rub them with a green sunlight bar before washing (the sunlight soap bars are cloth safe) or rub after washing and pop into the machine again. I've yet to need to do this, as the magic of the sun has taken care of all my stains so far (it is particularly effective for breastmilk stains...so pop your damp burp cloths into the sun for instant whitening & bleaching!).

Here's some proof:

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If you've still got stains, then a good rub with the green sunlight bar, and popping the item back in the machine should take care it.


My wash routine:

Up until 5 months (i.e. before I started solids), this was my routine for Everly's nappies:

I'd wash every morning:

1. Off the bum & into the nappy bin:

All nappies go straight into the nappy bin till the next morning (will do a blog post on what I use for a nappy bin soon).

2. Quick Rinse:

After her first morning nappy change, I put all the dirty nappies straight into a bucket of hot water for a quick rinse (this is especially important for night nappies that will be on your baby for longer than the recommended 2-3 hours during the day, as they will be full of wee/ammonia and need a warm rinse to make sure you don't get any stinky nappies...the warm water breaks down the ammonia crystals). You can skip this step and add a pre-rinse to your washing machine cycle. This does use more water so if you're wanting to cut down water usage, a bucket of water works just as well. Some moms rinse their nappies in their baby's bath water. I bath Evy at night and like to wash in the morning so that didn't work for me.

**I have since gone back to doing a quick wash cycle/pre-rinse on the machine, without any detergent, as my pre-rinse. I now only hand rinse night nappies in hot water, and then these also get added to the quick wash cycle with the other nappies.

3. Set Washing Machine:

Cotton cycle on the machine (about 2.5 hours) with an added rinse (40 degrees C with the recommended amount of detergent  for a very dirty load). I have done a few 60C washes as pictured below and haven't had any problems.  I also wash Evy's burp clothes (I use the old school white towelling nappies...BEST ones are the Glodina Baby towels which you can buy at Baby City...the ones from Pep and even the ones from Woolies aren't nearly as durable). It's also important for your washing machine load to be 3/4 full so that the dirty nappies get enough agitation. I often throw in our towels to bulk up the load. Another idea is to have two or so old towels that you dedicate to your 'nappy load' so you always throw them in your machine with the nappies. 

4. Hang nappies up to dry/pop into tumbled dryer

Hang up nappies in the sun to dry(soft fabric side up in the case of pocket nappies & all-in-one's...PVC/plastic side of nappies down). I hang my pail liners (the washable PVC bags I use inside my nappy bin and my covers in the shade as the sun can delaminate them and cause tearing.

I have just found out that it's possible to tumble dry your nappies on low. This works especially well for hemp flats and cotton/bamboo/microfibre inserts. This isn't always recommended by retailers, but if you live somewhere where it takes forever for your nappies to dry (or you just like the feeling of very soft nappies) then it's possible to tumble dry them on low. You can also iron hemp flats to make them nice and soft again, or line dry them and then pop them in the tumble dryer for 10 mins or so on hot.

That's the basic just of washing your cloth nappies. If you're having issues with anything at all, the South African Cloth Nappy Users Facebook Group is amazing! Head on over there and ask the friendly community your questions, there is always someone on hand to help. 

A few extra notes:

  • Stinky nappies? Could be from a variety of reasons ie. an ammonia build up and your washing routine needs to be adjusted or you might need to do a strip (with bleach to 'strip' your nappies of any detergent buildup etc. Don't freak out about the bleach...click here for more info on stripping your nappies.) 

  • Bought some pre-loved nappies? Give them a good hot wash and then strip them (follow the link above to find out more about stripping them)

  • Hemp & Bamboo nappies need to be 'prepped' before they reach optimal absorption. This usually means they need to be washed 8 - 10 times before they become really absorbent. Instead of wasting water washing them multiple times, simply start using them and keep in mind they might leak a little in the first week or so of use.

Water Saving Tips

  • Instead of pre-rinsing in machine, rinse in the old bath water or the floor of the shower while you shower (use your feet to stamp on the nappies to really give them a good rinse). You can catch grey water*from the shower by placing buckets in the shower. Alternatively you can transfer your bathwater to buckets. The easiest option is to use the bucket & plunger method (see below) to rinse nappies in grey water. When you are done rinsing your nappies, this water can be reused again to flush your toilets. Alternatively, you can pour the water into your top loader to do a rinse in the machine.

  • Catch the grey-water from the washing machine outlet and re-use it the toilet/to water your plants/to rinse your next load of nappies

  • Consider replacing your washing machine if you have an older model. Older models, especially top loaders tend to use a LOT of water to wash. Newer HE models and especially front loaders are much more water friendly. Other options to consider are a twin-tub or Sputnik. 

  • If you are using a nappy sprayer, consider hooking it up to a grey water system. Remember the rubber gloves if you are using the bucket method! Spraying one nappy uses approximately the same amount of water as flushing a toilet. 

  • Hand washing often uses a lot less water than machine washing. Hand washing doesn't have to be difficult either - the bucket and plunger method is very effective and quite straight forward to use. You can do a spin cycle in the machine afterwards to skip wringing out by hand and speed up drying time.

Handwashing - Bucket & Plunger Method

For flats & Covers

  1. Place flats and covers in a bucket of cold water Make sure the flats and covers are completely submerged in water.

  2. Using a plunger, plunge the nappies 50 times to get rid of the urine.

  3. Drain the water and remove the covers.

  4. Fill the bucket with your flats in, with warm water (just enough to cover your nappies).

  5. Add about 100ml Sunlight Gel (you can make this yourself...blog post to come) for about 12-14 flats and plunge 100 times. You can also use your regular powder/hand washing detergent.

  6. Empty the bucket and fill it again with cold water.

  7. Plunge another 50 times to ensure all the soap has been rinsed out.

  8. Drain and wring out our flats.

  9. Shake to get excess water off and hang to dry on the line.

For your covers: Give them a quick wash a little soap/detergent and water, rinse, towel dry and then hang to dry.

*There have been a few queries as to whether grey water (water coming from domestic equipment other than toilets eg washing machines, baths, sinks etc)  or black water (water from toilets ie. water that has come into contact with fecal matter) is safe for re-use in gardens. You would need to use 100% biodegradable and ph neutral detergents to make full and proper use of your grey water in your garden. But, reusing the water from your washing machine to flush your toilet would be a very good use of that water. As with most things, use your common sense and do your research if you are very concerned. The main idea here is to try and save as much water as possible, and re-use where you can.

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**Please note, although certain brands of liners say Flushable/Biodegradable, please don't ever actually flush them down the toilet! All they end up doing is clogging the toilets and causing lots of problems down the line. I would advice using biodegradable liners, as these are much more environmentally friendly, and you can just rest easy knowing that even though they are going into the refuse, they will break down easily. If you really want to go the extra step, rather use fleece liners (literally just pieces of fleece fabric that you can make yourself, that you just rinse off and wash along with your nappies...these dry super fast and rinse very easily!). Here is a photo of my selection of liners (fleece & biodegradable):

Poo literally slides right off the fleece, so using these when your onto solids makes SUCH a difference when doing the washing. These fleece liners also give a stay dry effect, so if your little one is sensitive to wetness (like mine) using these liners really helps keep their bums dry.


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Although it may see like an awful load of work, you will quickly get into your own routine. Washing Everly's nappies only takes me an extra 5 minutes of time in my morning to rinse and place them in the machine, an then another few minutes to hang them up.

Do you have any other tips for washing your nappies? Does this post make you feel more confident to give cloth nappies a try? I'd love to hear from you in the comments below!

Newborn Cloth Nappies 101 - What you need to get started

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Hello and welcome to the first post in my cloth nappy journey! I have been using cloth nappies (or diapers) on my little girl ever since we arrived home from hospital, and I'm so excited to share my experiences with you. 

I was only vaguely aware of cloth nappies before being pregnant, and of course the idea of a cloth nappy was very much old school...ie. a huge square of white towel, held together with some torture device called a snappy which needed to be dunked in a big bucket of bleach every day.

Well, I couldn't have been more wrong. 

So grab yourself a cup of tea and settle down for a mammoth of a blog post (the first of many!) on how to use cloth nappies!

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Modern day cloth nappies are a far cry from the terry towel nappies our moms would have used on us growing up, and let me tell you, they are addictive! Once I dived down the rabbit hole of all things cloth, I found myself spending those sleepless nights during my pregnancy glued to cloth nappy Facebook groups of fellow moms and moms-to-be selling preloved fluff (the affectionate name given to cloth nappies) and scrolling through endless threads on washing routines. These days there are so many different types of cloth nappies to choose from, fabrics to decide on and folds to learn that it can be incredible overwhelming. And depending on the type of nappy you choose to use, it can also be incredibly expensive, with fancy brands and custom made designs leading to some nappies costing R400 - R500 a pop!

Cloth nappies don't have to be expensive though, and can be done on any budget. I'm going to go through all the different types of nappies in another post, but today I'm going to share with you my choice of cloth nappies for my newborn, what you need to get started & hopefully I will inspire you to start your own cloth journey.

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Let's start the the very beginning with the question of why you would want to choose cloth nappies over regular disposable nappies.

{A lot of this information has been taken from the South African Cloth Nappy Users Website (SANCU)}

There are so many benefits to using cloth, but here is a little list to help you with your decision:  

  • Saves money (you can re-use your nappies for baby number 2 & 3 etc and even re-sell afterwards if cared for correctly)

  • Better for the environment (disposable nappies sit in landfills for years and years and years before breaking down...with a single child going through on average of 4000 disposable nappies by the time they are potty trained, one can't even fathom how much waste that is just sitting in landfills the world over)

  • Beautiful patterns & designs

  • They contain no hydrogels which leads to less skin irritations & reactions


Cloth nappy myths

Let's set the record straight here and show you that it's actually much easier to go the cloth nappy route than you might have thought:

  • Cloth nappies leak >>> Cloth nappies contain runny poo better than disposables...bye bye poopsplosions

  • Cloth nappies are time consuming >>> Using cloth nappies takes roughy an extra 10 minutes of time per day

  • You need special (expensive) detergent to wash cloth >>> Regular detergent is just fine, simply skip the softner

  • Cloth nappies smell really bad >>> No hydrogel in cloth means nothing for wee & poo to react with meaning no nasty chemical smells

  • You don't really save with cloth due to extra detergent, electricity & water bills >>> Even when taking into account all of these costs, it's still possible to save anywhere from R11 000 - R26 000+ when using cloth

  • Cloth nappies delay milestones like sitting/crawling/walking >>> Cloth nappies give better hip support, are more comfortable, have extra padding to cushion any falls

  • Cloth nappies are unhygienic >>> With cloth nappies the poo gets disposed of where it should (in the toilet) as opposed to sitting in landfills. Cloth usually gets washed more frequently than rubbish is disposed of. Cloth nappies generally get changed more frequently than disposables.

Washing nappies does not take up hours and hours of your precious time. In reality, the washing machine does all the hard work for you. All you need to do is give them a quick rinse, pop into the machine, and then hang out to dry.


I could go on and on about how great cloth nappies are, but I'd rathe point you in the direction of the SACNU website as it's filled with everything you could possibly want to know about cloth nappies. They also have a fantastic Facebook page (click here) and then there is also a fantastic Facebook group for buying and selling cloth nappies...click here to head on over.


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my choice of cloth nappies for newborns

I will be writing another post on all the different types of cloth nappies, but for today I want to share with you what types I've chosen to use for my newborn, why I've chosen these particular nappies and which brands I recommend.

Before we go any further, it must be noted that there is definitely a learning curve to cloth nappies. It takes time to learn what works best for you and your baby, and to learn how to fold nappies to ensure you don't get any leaks. I've had my fair share of leaks and wet clothes from covers not fitting properly, and with those skinny newborn legs it can take a while to work out just the right techniques to ensure the right fit for your baby. Even with the leaning curve, I absolutely love using cloth nappies and you get used to how 'big' their bums are in cloth. Being a first time mom and learning how to hold a newborn, I loved having a big bum to hold onto when carrying her around. Also, I have found that most of the baby clothes generally fit very well over bigger cloth bums so there's no need to worry about that at all.

Flats, Prefolds & Covers

These are by far the cheapest way to do cloth nappies, but these are also the most time consuming.

Let me explain.

Flats and pre-folds require folding, whereas the other types of cloth nappies are very similar to the design of disposables, the biggest difference being you wash them as opposed to throwing them away.  I think the biggest motivator behind me choosing flats and covers is the challenge of these types of nappies (yup, I'm the kind of person that when told I can't do something, goes out of my way to prove people wrong hehe). But also, babies grow so fast and don't stay 'newborn size' for very long.

Flats are the most economical of nappies as once your baby has outgrown them, they can be pad-folded and used as booster and added to other nappies for extra absorbency.

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Flats

Flats are just what they sound like, a flat piece of fabric (usually a square) that you fold and secure in place with a snappy (or a pin). Flats are made of all different sorts of fabric (which all range in absorbency and therefore price).

The cheapest fabric for flats is cotton flannel (i.e. receiving blankets). I simply cut up some cheap receiving blankets I found at PEP and my mom made some more for me out of receiving blankets I found at a discount towel shop in Joburg (the pink bunnies and grey bears pictured above). She doubled some of them (placed two squares together and overlocked them) and these work amazingly well for nighttime when my little girl sleeps for longer periods of time.

My absolute favourite flats are made from Hemp fabric which is the most expensive fabric. My favourite hemp flats are from Pokkelokkie (the blue ones you can see in my photos). I also have some I ordered online from Biddykins (the white cover pictured above) but I prefer the Pokkelokkie ones. Most cloth moms will tell you that hemp flats make the best nighttime nappies as hemp is the most absorbent fabric. I have found my flannel flats work fantastically too!

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Pre-folds

Pre-folds are what they sound like, pre folded nappies sewn into folds to make for easier putting together. I have a small number of newborn pre-folds from MiniMatters (the brown ones pictured above) which I like to use for daytime naps.

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I also have a small selection of Little Lamb Bamboo fitted nappies which I had a family member bring over from the UK for me. From my research I read that they are an awesome nighttime solution, and they are perfect for those very late/very early nappy changes when you're still half asleep (or when Dad is on nappy duty and isn't quite into all the folding required for flats). These look like and work just like disposable nappies (the fluffy white ones pictured), and they fasten together with velcro. They do also require a waterproof cover just like the flats and pre-folds.

Here are some photos of my little girl wearing her flats, pre-folds & Little Lamb fitted:

Covers  

Covers are the waterproof outer shell that goes on top of your flats, fitteds & pre-folds to ensure that your nappies don't leak. Most covers are made from PUL (a laminated polyester fabric) and have 'snaps' on them that you clip into place to make bigger/smaller. Different brands offer different sizes. I have 10 newborn Biddykins covers (the grey and mint ones pictured below) which I bought second hand (or pre-loved as they are called) from a lovely lady in Durban who never got a chance to use them as her girl was too big for them when born.

You really can build your cloth nappy stash entirely from second hand sales. Some items I would be hesitant to purchase second hand, but covers I am all about buying pre-loved!

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I have a small selection of Bambino Mio covers (the white ones pictured) which have velcro fasteners; and which I also bought preloved from a lady on the buy & sell Facebook group (click here). My favourite cover to use in the last few weeks now that Everly's little legs have fattened up, is a 'OSFM' (One Size Fits Most) Blueberry cover I also ordered from the UK but which you can get here in South Africa from TineyHiney. It's the red one pictured above).

I mentioned it before that cloth nappies are addicive. Here's a photo to show you why...how gorgeous is this Buttons nappy cover. I bought this one pre-loved but you can buy them here in South Africa online through TineyHiney (click here):

I don't own many pretty print covers as I wanted to get as many neutral nappies as possible so I can use these all again for baby number 2 (and possibly number 3 & 4 too!). I do have a rather stash of bigger nappies with pretty prints for when Everly is bigger as she will get a lot more use out of them as opposed to the smaller newborn nappies. 

Fleece covers are also very popular. I have a few newborn sized fleece covers (also bought pre-loved on the Facebook group mentioned above) which work for quick naps and I like them because they are soft on the bum. I find I get quite a lot of leaks with them though, and so only use them for short naps when I know I'll be changing her nappy after only an hour or so.

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And if you're really on a budget, the plastic covers from Pep (yellow, blue & pink pictured above) work just as well! I'm not such a fan of them as they are very plasticky and don't breath at all...not so nice for newborn skin. But they do work well and have lots of stretch in the elastics to go over very big and bulky nappies. These would work particularly well over toweling nappies if you really want to go the traditional nappy route.

Inserts & Boosters

To boost the absorbency of your nappies, you need extra bits of fabric called inserts or boosters. Again, hemp is the most absorbent, but it's also the most expensive. Bamboo is very popular, but the most popular fabric for inserts is microfibre. While microfibre is the cheapest option, it doesn't hold much moisture and so you get compression leaks. It all depends on whether your baby is a light or heavy 'wetter', but usually a combination of different fabrics work well (and of course this also depends on your budget).

My mom made me a few boosters from bamboo towel and mutton cloth (which she found at different hardware stores and it comes in different weaves which means different levels of softness/coarseness).

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You can boost your nappies with just about anything. Cotton flannel (receiving blankets) work very well, and the nice thing about flats and pre-folds is the can be used to boost nappies too. Simply fold and pop into your nappy cover between the nappy and the cover for extra absorbency, or layer inside your nappy between bum and the nappy itself.

Extra Bits & Pieces

A few of the extra bits and pieces needed (not all of these things are needed but are nice to have) for your cloth nappy journey:

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Wipes:

I use a mixture of cloth wipes & lovely biodegradable 'throwaway' wipes. The cloth wipes are just off cuts from the receiving blanket flats I made. It's a great way to use up extra bits of fabric you might otherwise have thrown away. If you got lots of face cloths for your baby shower, you could also use those are wipes. I fill a little tub with warm water before each change and then use one of the wipes dipped in warm water to clean up all the pooey mess. It's much nicer on her little bottom than a cold wipe, especially when it's cold or in the middle of the night.

I then also use these awesome biodegradable baby wipes from Pure Beginnings. I stocked up at the MamaMagic Expo in Durban, but you can also buy the 3 packs of Pure Beginnings wipes at Dischem.

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Liners:

Liners aren't necessary for newborn nappies but they are nice to use. When you do need to use liners is when you use bum creams that aren't cloth safe like Bepanthen, Fissan or Sudocream etc as these creams can clog up the natural fibres of cloth nappies. Using liners protects the nappies from the cream by creating a barrier between the nappy and cream. When baby is bigger and eating solids, liners are a life saver helping you avoid getting your hands really messy. Although these liners claim to be flushable, it's not advised to flush them as they can clog up toilets. I bought these FancyPants liners on Takealot for a bundle price of R300 for 3, they usually retail for about R110. Biddikins also stock bamboo liners. I have also heard that Checkers stock the Cherubs liners which are much more affordable, but they always seem to be out of stock when I go shopping.

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Bum Cream:

While it's not necessary to use bum cream with every nappy change like you would when using disposable nappies (this is because babies in cloth nappies tend to be less prone to rashes) you may choose to use bum creams as more of a preventative measure. As mentioned above, most commercial bum creams are not safe to use on cloth nappies, and that's why it's recommended to use a liner if you do use them. If some cream accidentally gets onto the nappy, you can remove it by scrubbing the residue with sunlight dishwashing liquid and an old toothbrush.

Here is a list of locally available bum creams that are safe to use with cloth nappies without having to use liners:

  • Pure Beginnings

  • Mother Nature

  • Wriggly tin

  • Bloublommetjies

  • Earthly Lure

  • Natraloe

  • Cheeky Monkey Bum balm (Little Lily, Biddykins, Little Details)

  • Little Ladybugs bum balm

  • Foxybums bum balm

  • Ladybird

  • Sproglets (Smart Bums)

  • Naturally Beauty-full

  • Earth Babies

  • Oshana baby natural barrier cream

  • Cotton tails bunny bum balm

  • Kylie Co little bum balm

You can also use Coconut Oil!

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Snappies:

These sharp, spikey little things are what hold your nappy together. Traditionally pins would have been used, and you can still use them if you aren't afraid of stabbing your little one hehe.

Snappies come in all sorts of colours and you can find them at Pep and Ackermans for +- R20 for a pack.

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I store my nappies in the wicker baskets in my compactum, but there are so many creative ways to store cloth nappies. Here is also a photo of my changing station setup so you can see where  keep everything. I found my compactum at an amazing second hand store in Durban. I found the advert on Gumtree and then headed over to Umbilo area to pick it up.

The trick with cloth nappies is not to put all your eggs in one basket when putting together your stash. I highly recommend buying different brands and varied types of nappies until you figure out what works for you and your baby. I went with flats at first because they are the most versatile of nappies and are the cheapest. They work really well for me I don't mind the extra minute or two that I spend folding. I do also keep a very small stash of disposable nappies (sposies) on hand, just in case. 


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Whew!

It you got through this loooong post I want to commend you and suggest you reward yourself with another cup of tea. I will save my washing routine & how I store my wet nappies for another post, so look out for that post coming soon.

Please let me know if you have any questions, pop them in the comments below and I'll get back to you as soon as I can.

Yours in cloth <3

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