guide to using cloth nappies

Cloth Nappy FAQ's

Cloth vs disposable?

Environmentally there’s no choice. "Wearing throwaway nappies, each baby puts two tonnes of waste into New Zealand landfill during its infancy," said Mr Ward, the Green Party Waste-free Spokesperson (, while cloth nappies can be washed and reused time and time again.

Many nappy 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.

Over the lifetime of a nappy-wearing child, you will use about 6,000 "disposables", at an average cost of say $0.45 = $2,700.
Plus the cost of rubbish bags ($1.30 ea) and your total cost is $2770.
If your child uses more nappies, the cost increases eg: 6,500 "disposables" will cost $2925.
Double-that for second and subsequent children.

Compare that to an $300 - $650  investment in  modern cloth nappies and a few packs of nappy liners at around $12 per pack.
* you'll need around 20 nappies at the initial stage, washing every 2nd day.

Modern cloth nappies:

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


Buying modern cloth nappies involves initial investment of around $300 (10 nappies) -$650 (20 nappies) but you can start off slowly and build up your cloth nappy supply until you have eliminated disposables completely. Also, consider asking friends/relatives to give you one or two nappies as a "baby shower" gift.

Take into account:

  • over time you will spend more money on disposables
  • cloth nappies are reusable and have less impact on the environment
  • modern cloth nappies have great resale value on Trade Me.

We've been selling cloth nappies for over nine years and although there were some pretty good cloth nappies nine years ago, the advance in nappy technology in recent years has been been amazing. Our most popular nappies are Close Pop-in  Nappies.
These are one size fits all (OSFA) nappies which avoids the need to buy different sizes. They fit from birth and and the night-time boosters mean they actually last all night.

Customer review: (Close Pop-ins)

"I'm a new mum and am somebody who has always been keen on looking after our environment. Even so, I was nervous about using cloth nappies, as I'd heard so many horror stories from mums who had invested in them only to discover they were no good, because they either leaked, or didn't last very long on bub. A colleague bought me three POP INs to try for my baby shower, and I can say that I was very easily converted to cloth after using them.
I decided to invest in a POP IN Middle Pack (which I purchased from your site), and I absolutely love them. The things I love about them are:
They are super soft and gentle on baby’s bottom, and contain no nasty chemicals (unlike disposables)
My baby had nappy rash early on when using disposables, but this quickly changed when I converted to using POP INs
They leak less than disposables (I’m not even kidding). The great thing is they have leg ring hugs (like the disposable nappy technology).
Unlike many other cloth nappies, the instructions to wash them are super easy to follow, and you can was on a hot machine cycle, meaning you can get a thorough and hygienic clean
The velcro is genius, as it gives much cleaner fit than snap nappies (this has been a life saver, because my baby is gorgeous and chubby)
They snap down easily to grow with your baby (again, genius)
They are easy to use, with the inserts easily snapping in and out. This is also great for nappy changes, as if the outer isn’t soiled, you can replace the insert with ease and efficiency.
They last a full 12 hours over night with the booster pad (which was provided in the middle pack). This is seriously amazing, and I haven’t found another reusable that does this without wetting through.
They last a good 4 hours during the day (sometimes longer).
They have saved me hundreds of dollars (and I’m only six months in!).
They are amazing for our environment, and save many disposables from hitting the landfill.
I seriously cannot rave enough about them. I tell everyone how amazing they are. I’m also incredibly glad that I invested in POP INS upfront, rather than trying cheaper alternatives which, when I have used, have not worked anywhere near as well.
Thanks so much for helping me on my journey to be green. I’m so pleased that I stumbled across your site. I can tell you that my POP INs are most definitely the best baby purchase to date (the hubby even agrees).

Thanks so much,
one VERY happy customer,

Extras: (recommended)

  • washable cotton liners, or
  • nappy liners (help with clean-up)
  • Nappy Wet Bag (with clean/dirty side) to store nappies while you are out & about
  • Nappy Bucket

  • We do not recommend washing and reusing flushable liners as this may clog your washing machine.

Follow the manufacturer's recommendations.

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

Drypail method:
(most common with MCN) you scrape/flush off the poos and store in a covered nappy 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.

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

Smelly nappies?

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 eg Ecostore.

Wash cycle: Nappies 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 nappies/covers in a whitening powder.
Soak for an hour or so, then wash without any other detergent.

Eco-friendly whitening powders are now available in supermarkets - brands include B.E.E., EcoStore and Next Generation. Whitening powders are also a good laundry booster. Follow instructions as directed.

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

To remove stubborn smells: You can wash your nappies in 1-2 Tbsp of eco dishwashing detergent in a hot wash. Repeat in a hot wash with no detergents at all.

Cloth Nappy Manufacturers now advise against using vinegar and baking soda because excessive use has lead to some problems with elastic and PUL.

Nappy Subsidies:

Many councils in NZ have introduced subsidy schemes to encourage people to use cloth nappies (although these schemes start/stop from time-to-time). Check with your local council.

Newborn Hire Kits:

The The Nappy Network has a list of places you can get Hire Kits from.

Make your own:

Check out The Nappy Network for patterns to make your own fitted cloth nappies.

Kits, fabrics and notions are available in NZ through Greenbeans.



Nappy Accessories
  Mio Liners
Bioliners, bottom balmes and wipes available from our webstore.

Further reading

The Nappy Lady web site.

Nappy forums

New Zealand -
The Nappy

The product reviews are a useful feature of this site.

United Kingdom/
United States-

Cloth Nappy Blog

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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