Myth Busting Cloth Nappies

“But what do you do with the poo?” “Isn’t it time consuming?” “I’m already bogged down with washing I couldn’t possibly do more”. “Their so expensive to buy though!” These are some many of the comments I get when I tell people we use cloth nappies. All are legitimate worries people have I guess, but many are myths that have been passed through disposable nappy companies to make us believe the only convient way is to put a nappy in our child is with a single use one. And let’s face it how many of you had even heard of cloth nappies before, how many even knew it was an option? Most of my friends didn’t and neither did I until someone told me a friend of theirs had. Luckily for me that was pre pregnancy. If you’ve read i“it stated with a nappy” you’ll know this was how this whole journey started for me.

And it’s not just the nappy companies. I read one article in a well known British newspaper that described washing nappies as “hours of unpaid work for Mums”. Per-leeease… I could talk for hours about this one ridiculous statement. Did you know that my partner doesn’t know how to use the washing machine and I’m in the back garden scrubbing nappies by hand? No, you didn’t know that because it’s not true. Mat as well as me, has pushed the On button on the magical machine in our kitchen many times. This magical machine does all the work for us. And as for unpaid working hours… would they describe cooking a home cooked meal rather than buying a ready meal wasted hours of unpaid work? No I think not. So yes it’s the media that gives cloth a bad name but even worse our own government. A study published by the environmental agency in 2008 claimed that disposable nappies are no worse for the environment than cloth. A campaign for this study to be updated is under way because every news article on cloth quotes this particular study which is majorly flawed and now majorly out of date. It also leaves out many other factors that make a single use product completely unsustainable and as you can imagine makes me grind my teeth whenever I hear it used as an example.

So it’s down to us I’m afraid, the parents of the pretty bottomed babies and environmental activist to spread the words and the SCIENCE on why cloth nappies should be and needs to be a mainstream thing.

Here’s some of the many myths I’ve heard along the way busted once and for all.

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Washing nappies is difficult and time consuming

Not really. Washing is easy as long as you figure out a good wash routine for you. For example I live in an extremely hard water area so having a decent washing power and using the full dose along with a long wash does the trick. Joining Facebook groups such as Cloth Nappies UK are great way to get advice from seasoned nappy users and Clean Cloth Nappies Down Under (CCNDU) will provide you with all the science based facts to get started and solutions if your having problems.

As for time. I probably spend 20 minutes a week in total. And that includes popping a wash on, hanging it out when I get the chance and then sitting in front of the TV stuffing nappies. It’s no big deal and less time than that home cooked meal took you in unpaid man hours. (Still rolling my eyes at this)

Poo in your washing machine is gross.

Poo belong in the loo not my washing machine thanks very much. Unless it’s breastfeed poo, that’s water dissolvable so can be washed off and sent to water treatment where all our dirty water goes to be treated properly. One place poo shouldn’t be is in a landfill where it turns toxic. Many disposable nappy packs actually state that you should be plopping the poo in the loo before you dispose of the nappy.

Modern washing machines are highly efficient. If your child wet the bed or poo leaked out of their nappy onto their clothes you would pop in in the washing machine right? Nurses trust these super duper machines to get all manner of things off their uniforms. As do chefs, builders, carers, you name it, it all gets clean. So washing a nappy is no different. I can actually guarantee that the cleanest washing machines are owned by cloth families because they become more aware of how clean their machine needs to be to get nappies sparkling. This includes washing your machine once a month by popping it on a hot empty cycle and getting a great wash routine to go with it.

Cloth is expensive.

Initially yes, but some quick calculations Mat and I did recently concluded that I’ve spent about £400, which is a lot more than you need to spend but I’ve tested a lot of nappies and went with some more expensive brands. If you wanted to do it cheaper I think you could get a full set of nappies for around £200. Less if you buy second hand. However we worked out that it would only take us around 9 months to spend that on disposables. (Depending of course of what nappy brand you use, this was based on pampers or Naty nappies the only ones we’ve used) therefore the last 3 months of using nappies for us has been free. Give or take a few pounds a month on electric and water the washing machine uses. £800-£1200 is the average spend disposables for one child depending on brand and how soon your child potty trains. Compared to £100-£400 on cloth nappies again depending on brand or buying too many pretty patterns. Now imagine you have 2 children. Or even 3-4. The cost of cloth stays the same. The cost of disposables, doubles, triples, quadruples.

Cloth Nappies cause nappy rash.

Babies get nappy rash sometimes. It’s a fact of life. Nappy rash is generally caused by bacteria in poo reacting with urine. Changing your baby regularly will prevent this. This is why it’s claimed that cloth nappied babies are less likely to develop rashes as you generally change cloth more often than a disposable. But there’s many more reasons for rash’s. My daughter had an awful one once and it turned out she was allergic to a certain washing powder. She later had another which ended in a doctors appointment and he concluded it more than likely started when we she had a little fever, perhaps this started a bit of a heat rash which got infected. Teething is also a big cause of rash’s. Conclusion. None of these are related to cloth.

Cloth is just as bad for the environment as disposables.

Even in 2008 the report wasn’t very good. Now, in 2018, it’s about as relevant as a Nokia 8210 at a tech convention.”

As fore mentioned and ranted over above the environmental agency first did a report on the environmental impact of disposable nappies vs reusable nappies in 2005. It was immediately discredited and then followed by a better (but not by much) report in 2008. At the time the report was as I said pretty dodgy and took into account that nappies should be washed at boiling temperatures (this will destroy the waterproof lining) and tumbled dried (also will destroy water proof lining) which would bring the energy consumption up and make them less carbon efficient. But we now need to take into account that in the decade that has followed technology has moved on leaps and bounds. Washing machines are more energy efficient, energy no longer comes soully from coal but from renewable sources too. It also basis its finding on a baby only need 4 disposable nappies a day. In our dreams right? In a babies nappy wearing life time any other source estimates 20% more than this. You get the picture. So any article quoting this report basically needs to be scraped. Baba and Boo (quoted above) are doing wonderful things in campaign for a fresh report to be done.

Cloth Nappies cause bowed legs.

If this were true everyone over the age of 40 would we walking bowed legged. The extra bulk actually creates a good position for healthy hip development and in many countries is prescribed to help with “clicky hips”. Studies have also found they provide spinal cushioning for the many falls as children learn to walk.

Cloth Nappies slow down a child mobility.

My daughter sat at 5 months, crawled at 7 months and walked at 10 months. The extra bulk didn’t slow her down. Every baby is different, every baby does things in their own time cloth or no cloth.

Nappy buckets smell.

The poos in the loo so no smells. And there’s no outside bin festering for two week waiting for the bin collection. We also have a lid on our nappy bucket so don’t smell a thing.

If your thinking about trying cloth nappies but you’ve heard some of these or you think they might be to much work I hope this has squashed any doubts to just give it a try by bursting those awful myths.

Hannah xx