diaper faq

Everything you need to know about cloth diapers:

Cloth vs disposable?

Environmentally there’s no choice. Billions of disposable diapers are dumped in the trash every year (which are said to take up to 500 years to breakdown) (http://www.articleclick.com), while cloth diapers can be washed and reused time and time again.

Many diaper web sites cite the fact that there are health concerns about disposables and the chemical nasties they contain:

Last, but absolutely not least there's no doubt that over time you'll spend more on disposables. Check out this Diaper calculator.

If you'd like to do further reading, see the 'cloth vs disposables' box on the right.

Modern cloth diapers:

Modern cloth diapers are excellent alternative. They are far more absorbent than the old style cloth diaper and are easy to put on (no folding, no pins!).


Diapers come in many brands and styles.

It's a matter of deciding which one that will works for you, your baby and your budget.

They are a big investment up front but you can start off slowly and build up your cloth diaper supply until you have eliminated disposables completely.

Some brands even offer hire purchase.

Why Organic?

Read this interesting article on traditional cotton vs organic cotton.

Some brands listed are traditional cotton/some are organic cotton.

Other environmentally-friendly fabrics include bamboo and hemp.

How do I start?

Many parents start with eco disposables, or prefolds (diaper & cover) while the baby is in the first messy poo phase.

More information on newborns & choosing diapers (snazzipants.co.nz) .

After that the most popular choice of diapers is usually Pockets. These were shown in a recent poll (by The Nappy Network) to be used by 90% of parents in NZ as their main diaper system).

With pocket diapers, both the diaper & insert is washed each time the diaper is changed but you can vary the number of inserts you use according to how much the child wets.

For a great visual explanation of the different systems,  see The NZ Nappy Alliance web site.

  • AIO 'all-in-one' = fitted diaper sewn into waterproof outer, or
  • pocket diaper = diaper with pocket for inserts and/or boosters (no cover required) or
  • 2 part system: fitted diaper and diaper cover or
  • 2 part system: prefold diapers and diaper cover.
AIO 'All-in-one' systems - are the easiest to use but you will require more diapers as they must be washed each time the baby is changed.

2 part system - a diaper cover is essential over fitted diapers and prefolds. The diaper cover can be reused at diaper change time (if it is not soiled), so only 3-4 covers are required.

Covers - The natural (but most expensive) choice is wool. There are some gorgeous wool covers available or you can knit your own. They also are available in polarfleece and PUL (polyurethane laminated polyester) but  says, avoid pvc covers.

Extras: (recommended)

  •  inserts (also known as boosters or doublers) - for extra absorbency)
  • washable liners, or
  • flushable liners (help with clean-up) and if unsoiled can be washed and reused 2-3 times.

There are two methods (it varies between diaper brands), so follow the manufacturer's recommendations.

Never use fabric conditioner as it contains makes the nappies less absorbent!

Drypail method:
you scrape/flush off the poos and store in a covered diaper bucket for 2-3 days until your next washload. If the bucket gets smelly, you can add a couple of drops of teatree or lavender oil.

Soaking method: you soak the diapers in water and either baking soda or vinegar (¼ cup in a bucket) or a whitening powder. Soak overnight.

Washing: (both methods) after soaking overnight, wash in an environmentally-friendly liquid wash, using about half as much as you normally would. I have stopped using washing powder because powder residue tends to cause smells. See 'Smelly diapers' below.

Drying: Dry in sunshine (best of course!) or tumble dry on a low setting.

Smelly diapers?

First check your washing powder: Environmentally-friendly soap powders can interact with urine to cause smells (particularly bad with PUL and fleece overnaps). Try a plant-based liquid wash instead.

Wash cycle: Diapers left lying around for days will get smelly. Wash more regularly and use a heavy duty cycle if necessary.

Soaking: Once a week, you can soak your diapers/covers in a whitening powder.
Soak for an hour or so, then wash without any other detergent.

Eco-friendly whitening powders also make a good laundry booster. Follow instructions as directed.

Please note: Whitening powders should not be used with some diapers/covers Check the diaper manufacturer's washing instructions first.

To remove stubborn smells: You can also wash you diapers/covers in a warm wash without any detergent. Followed by a cold wash, adding 1/2 cup vinegar and 1/2 cup baking soda to the wash. This works, believe me, I wish I'd known about this trick earlier!

Second hand:

Buy and sell your clean, used cloth nappies on eBay. Although, I have just read that eBay (in the UK) have banned the sale of used cloth nappies, so try the Cloth Nappy Tree instead.  

Make your own:

Check out The Diaper Jungle for patterns to make your own fitted cloth diapers.

Eco friendly disposables:  

These provide a great alternative when travelling or working
(or your creche or daycare won't use cloth).

They are better for your baby and better for the environment (than ordinary disposables) because of the manufacturing processes and they can be composted (Ecobaby - see diaper disposal).               

Here are some instructions for building your own worm farm.




There is no need to use baby wipes.
Purchase fabric wipes or simply use old flannels. An old baby wipe box or small icecream container is handy to store your cloths.

butterfly print
Check out the beautiful baby wipes available in our webstore.

Further reading

Real Diaper Association

The Diaper Jungle

Nappy forums

Visit our Forums Page

Change mat

A non toxic alternative to a plastic changing mat is a baby sheepskin. Cover with a cloth nappy. The sheepskin is really soft and warm for baby and the nappy is easily washed.                    

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