Cloth Nappies 101

How to wash Cloth Nappies

To prevent nappy rash, stains and smells follow the following washing instructions.  

Refer to clean cloth nappies website for the list of detergents recommended!

How to fit a Modern Cloth Nappy

Below is a great video demo that will help you to fit a pocket nappy correctly to  prevent leaks while making sure baby is comfortable. 

Tip: Search on Youtube for the brand of nappy you are trying to fit for more brand specific instructions!

For Boys, make sure the hose is pointing down and more absorbency is in the front section of the nappy. For  girl, more absorbency is required in the middle section of the nappy! 


If your nappies leak in less than 1 hour it could be due to a number of reasons: 

1. Check the fit (watch video above) and check fitting diagrams below. Ensure inner absorbent material is tucked inside the water proof outer – if not it could be causing wicking. Try going up or down a size with your rise snaps.
2. Is there enough absorbent layers? One microfibre insert will not last 2 hours – you will need to pair microfibre inserts with a natural fibre like cotton (tea towel/face washer/prefold) or a bamboo or hemp booster.
4. Are you changing your baby frequently? It is recommended that you change wet nappies 2-3 hourly even if they last longer during the day.  
5. There maybe detergent or other build up from inadequate wash routine. Try Stripping & Santising and sticking to the nappy wash routine recommended above.  
6. Are your nappies brand new? It can take upto 6 washes for brand new nappies to build up absorbency. Wash brand new nappies more frequently.
7.  Are your nappies old/second hand? Check the water resistant layer is not damaged or delaminated (makes a crinkly sound or you can see plastic layer pulled away the outer fabric). Don’t forget to check the leg elastics – if they are loose they may need repairing. We can repair elastics for a donation to my gofundme page. 

There could be a number of reasons why your nappies have gone a bit “whiffy”…but it’s most likely due to ammonia!

  1. Check your wash routine – do you use a recommended detergent at the right dosage? Check the clean cloth nappy website to see  if the detergent you are currently using is recommended one and what the dosage here. If you are getting excessive suds – try reducing the dosage a little. 
  2. Do you do two washes? A prewash and a mainwash? Don’t skip the prewash that gets rid of the muck! Without it you are washing in dirty water! Avoid keeping soiled nappies longer than 2 days. Prewashing daily is recommended.
  3. Cold water washing is not recommended  as the enzymes in washing powders do not get activated well in cold water as well as warm/hot washes do. Dirty nappies are a toilet and you need hot washes to kill harmful bacteria that maybe causing the smells. Wash at 60 deg and for longer duration (2 -3 hours).
  4. Check the loading of your machine when you do your main wash.  Optimum agitation for cleaning is achieved when the drum is 2/3 – 3/4 full when wet (in front loaders) or a nice “nappy stew” is achieved for top loaders. 
  5. Use an airy basket as your dry pail – more airflow means less smells as it evaporates the water from urine to stop the formation of ammonia.
  6. Night nappies can be rinsed in hot water with a bit of detergent before spin drying then place in the dry pail.

With a good wash routine, you shouldn’t have issues with smells. Left untreated, ammonia can cause nappy rash and degrades your nappy inserts. Check your bamboo/hemp/cotton inserts for holes – this is a sure sign of ammonia burn.

To neutralise ammonia do a Strip & Sanitise and start again with a good wash routine!

If it’s more musty smell – ensure your nappies are completely dry before putting away. Also note that  teething, illness and changes to diet can contribute to higher ammonia levels in urine too!


Nappy rashes are not normal but can occur in both cloth nappies and in disposables equally.

In disposables, the main reason for nappy rashes is their lack of breathability. Polyethylene which makes up most of the nappy does not allow for air flow. Cloth nappies are breathable as the outer covers of cloth nappies are made from Poly urethane laminate (PUL) or TPU a type of PUL or Minky or wool and all these fabrics allow for air flow while keeping the wee in (water/urine molecules are bigger than air). It has been my experience that majority of babies who suffer from nappy rash with disposables stop getting the rashes when they switch to cloth! Your baby could also be allergic to the fragrances and chemicals used in some disposable wipes!

If you are getting rashes with cloth nappies,  ammonia build up from an inadequate wash routine is the most likely culprit See above about smelly nappies as it’s a good indication of ammonia build up. 

Another cause for rashes could be the wetness retained from disposable liners. One of the major causes of nappy rash is  excessive wetness on baby skin from a combination of  urine and faeces.  Try switching to pocket nappies or using reusable liners made from microfleece on any natural fibre inserts on all in two nappies.  

All rashes are a concern when it comes to babies,  if the nappy rash doesn’t go away after using some nappy rash balm within a day (zinc is recommended), get the rash checked out by a medical professional. The rash could be a fungal or viral infection. Use disposable nappies until treated (treatment is 2 weeks) and do a strip and sanitise on all the nappies before starting again once the infection is cleared.


If you are ready to take the plunge into buying cloth nappies make sure you’ve done some research on the types and brands you’d want to invest in. Join a couple of Facebook MCN review groups and/or MCN Buy and Sell groups. Beware: With so many opinions it can get even more confusing!

Nappy Library Hire

Best way to find out what’s right for you at a fraction of the cost is to hire through a nappy library! With a variety of brands you can try them for a few weeks and know the ins and outs of the nappy baby before you invest in a whole stash. 

This is where the Nappy Guru brand trial kit comes in. You can choose full time pack of 20 of the most popular brands or let me work out a pack that will suit your baby’s age, size, build and taking into account your budget! 

Did you know that after the hire period is over you get voucher codes that could save you from 5-20% on your favourite nappy brands for filling out a simple survey?! C

Buy Second Hand 

Another smart way for you to try cloth nappies is to buy second hand.  Facebook marketplace and Gumtree are great places to find good quality cloth nappies. Make sure you ask the sellers questions, get photos of the inside of the nappy including inserts and  find out how long they have been used, why they are selling, if the elastics and the waterproofing layer is in in good condition and if there’s stains or smells. 

A small scale strip and sanitise is recommended for all second hand nappies so they are re-set for your baby! 

Buy Trial Packs 

There’s nothing like the softness of a brand new nappy but if you go this route be aware of the postage costs adding up. This is where you might like to find a local retailers that do mixed trial packs that give discount.  

We are spoiled here in WA to have nappy retailers with showrooms to get advice on wide range of nappy brands if you choose to buy new: 

  • Booty Crawl – Darch WA
  • Cloth and Carry – Beeliar WA
  • Boutique Bums – Ellenbrook WA
  • Earth Bums – Forrestfield WA
  • Earthside Eco Bums – Busselton WA

One thing that we cloth nappy parents never recommend is to buy 24 cloth nappies of one single brand or make! As tempting as it is with huge discounts for buying in bulk,  babies bodies change over time the fit can change and leaks can occur. A wiser choice would be to purchase 4-5 nappies of 6 different brands instead!  

I get asked this question all the time and just like books in a library, I love them all – well almost all. There are some brands that I would recommend people avoid. From repairing nappies, I’ve learnt which nappies last the longest and unfortunately some just don’t. Some nappies age faster than others, and these tend to be the cheap ones. The hook & loop (aka Velcro)  nappies loose their stick after awhile or they stick  to everything else and pick up  lint . If you can help it, avoid buying microfiber inserts – pay extra for upgraded natural fabrics.  You will find my favourite nappies in the Brand Trial Kits in the nappy library hire kits

All nappies have their good points and bad and it is mostly personal preferences as it can  depends on the baby and their build and one’s financial situation too. What one baby fits is no guarantee will work for all babies or even a sibling. 

In the first 3 -6 months of cloth nappying,  I hated pocket nappies. I had no time for stuffing 10 nappies ready for each day when I only had 30!  . If I had more nappies, this stress may have been less. So I converted all my pocket nappies by adding snaps to the inserts to make them into All in 2 nappies. I created my first “Franken-Nappy” and I was super proud! It was much easier to snap than to stuff. However, in hindsight, I should’ve got my hubby to be the nappy stuffer!

When the baby started moving around a lot more and walking at the age of 1, even though I loved my Ai2’s I preferred pocket nappies.  I had a larger stash and I didn’t have to make sure I had to have 10 ready for the next day so the pressure was off. Pocket nappies are easier to put on  wiggly babies (if they are pre stuffed). I also grew to love side snapping nappies too – they looked neater without all the bumpy snaps at the front. 

My favourite nappies still are  WAHM nappies made in Australia by Working at Home mums.  I collected a huge stash all second hand used by over 4 babies or more. The quality is  amazing and you know they will last many babies to come.   Because they are made in Australia they are the most ethical nappies you can buy made with love and care. 

For the budget conscious – Here’s a list of my recommendations. 

For cheap nappies  – ($15 -$20 RRP and under)

  • Katapilla Kids (All in 2 very trim nappy made WAHM in WA – highly recommend)
  • Bum Cheeks (Ai2 or pocket WAHM made in Australia very Trim – may need additional boosters) 
  • Berry Bottoms ( pocket nappy – add bamboo boosters as an extra)
  • Cheeky Bunz (pocket nappies WA company  from Geraldton – they are CCs highly recommend their newborn sized nappies) 
  • Elf Diaper (pocket nappy – CC – comes with bamboo and microfibre combination)
  • Alva Baby (pocket nappy – CC – upgrade inserts to 5 layers bamboo)
  • Mama Koala (pocket CC– highly recommend upgrade inserts to bamboo)
  • Bambooty basics (Ai2 – require boosting – recommend additional inserts)
  • Hippybottomus (Pocket nappies – Australian owned CC – recommend to upgrade inserts to natural fibres)
  • Peapods (Ai2 or Pocket – highly recommend buying their bamboo trifold inserts only (second hand market) – covers tend to leak and delaminate) 

Medium Range ($25-$32 RRP)

  • Baby Bare cubs (All in Ones, or Ai2 & Pocket – highly recommend all nappies made by Baby Bare) 
  • Baby Bare Teddies (side snapping highly recommend these with bamboo inserts and not the microfibre),
  • Boho Babes (Pocket – highly recommend their night nappies upgrade inserts),
  • Peekaboo (Ai2 highly recommend – comes with snap and wipe covers. All in Ones need added boosting)
  • Itti (Aio, Ai2 or pockets – good quality trim nappy however need boosting!)
  • Tuti (NZ company – comes with two bamboo inserts) 
  • Booty Toots – ( Australian owned Ai2/pocket side snapping nappy (a unicorn in the nappy world))
  • Bambino Mio Solo (AiO – sold in Coles – need boosters – I do not recommend this nappy as it is too pricey for the quality of the nappy and the inserts)

Premium Range ($35+RRP

  • WAHM nappies from the Hand Crafted Nappy Connection! Cannot recommend these nappies highly enough. 
  • Baby Beehinds (Australian owned and award winning nappies. 
  • Alcmena (Australian owned Ai2/pocket  or snap & wipe and suits larger built babies and high resale value),
  • Seedling Baby (Australian owned Pocket nappy suits larger built babies and comes with best inserts)
  • Crackadaks ( Ai2/Pocket WA company highly recommend – very slim fitting)
  • Bubblebubs candies (Australian owned side snapping Ai2) very trim and great inserts and ethically made in China.
  • Fudgey Pants (NZ owned company – Ai2 pocket nappies with good inserts)
  • Fluffy Ducks (NZ owned company – Ai2 pocket nappies with excellent inserts) 
  • Designer Bums (Australian owned Ai2/pocket – very similar to Crackadaks, high resale value)
  • Eco Naps (Australian owned- Ai2/Pockets hard to stuff, high resale value)
  • Bare & Boho (Australian owned Ai2 – snap and wipe nappies  – some parents have difficulty with getting a good fit