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! Any mainstream detergents will work such as Biozet Powder, Omo, Eco Store, Zero Co, Trimat, Kin Kin. Stay away from Bosistos, Earth Choice and Aware and Soap nuts!!!

How to Fit a Cloth Nappy


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 on your 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 5 minute feedback survey!

Buy Second Hand 

Another smart way for you to try cloth nappies is to buy second hand.  Facebook marketplace, Cloth nappy pay it forward groups or Buy Nothing Groups 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 ask questions to 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 any stains or smells. 

A small scale strip and sanitise is recommended for all second hand nappies so they are re-set for your baby! The steps for sanitising cloth nappies can be found in cleanclothnappies.com or if you are in Perth – I offer this service for you for $50 for maximum of 30 nappies or 5kgs. Send me a message and I will let you know how to pay for it. 

Check out the clearance section for ex-hire nappies or REBORN Packs on nappiesandmore.com.au for affordable second hand nappies that have already been Sanitised. 

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 multi brand retailers that do mixed trial packs. .  

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 – Ellenbrook WA (CLOSING DOWN)
  • Cloth and Carry – Beeliar WA
  • Earth Babes – Forrestfield WA
  • Enviro House – Bayswater WA
  • Nappiesandmore – Mount Nasura WA 

One thing that we cloth nappy parents never recommend is to buy 24 cloth nappies of one single brand without trying! 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 6 nappies of 4-5 different brands instead

Do this 5 min quiz and I’ll let you which ones I recommend from your answers.  

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. . 

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 your 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 makers.  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 lots of love and care. 

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

Budget friendly nappies  – ($15 -$20 RRP and under)

  • Katapilla Kids (All in 2 very trim nappy made WAHM in WA – highly recommend)
  • Berry Bottoms (pocket nappy – boost with their bamboo boosters or bamboo trifolds)
  • Minnie & Mae (Pocket Nappy with high absorbency)
  • Elf Diaper (pocket nappy and customise with your choice of inserts)
  • Happy Flute (pocket nappies – upgrade inserts to bamboo or hemp)
  • Alva Baby (pocket nappy –  upgrade inserts to 5 layers bamboo)
  • Mama Koala (pocket nappy –  upgrade inserts to bamboo)
  • Big Softies (Pocket or All in Two) found in Kmart and Big W stores. 
  • Hippybottomus (Pocket nappies – recommend to upgrade inserts to natural fibres)
  • My Little Gumnut (Pocket nappies – recommend to upgrade inserts to natural fibres)https://nappiesandmore.com.au/collections/bundles-packs

Mid 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),
  • Cloth Bums Pixies (Pocket Nappy) and Cloth Bums Knight Nappies, Pull Ups and Preflats! 
  • Eco Peach Cloth nappies (Velcro Pocket Nappies) 
  • Peekaboo (Ai2 highly recommend – comes with snap and wipe covers. All in Ones need added boosting) Now a discontinued product from Baby Bare. 
  • Evia Collective – Pocket nappies

Premium Range ($35+RRP

  • WAHM nappies from the Hand Crafted Nappy Connection! Cannot recommend these nappies highly enough. 
  • Earthside Eco Bums (West Australian Owned side snapping nappies)
  • Baby Beehinds (Australian owned and award winning nappies)
  • Monarch/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 them)
  • Bubblebubs candies (Australian owned side snapping Ai2) trim and great inserts 
  • 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)
  • Eco Naps (Australian owned- Ai2/Pockets)
  • Bare & Boho (Australian owned Ai2 – snap and wipe nappies  – The ones found in Aldi as a special Buy – need boosting)
  • Mimi & Co – All in Two pockets or preflats . 

Still confused and don’t know what to get Do this 5 min quiz and I’ll let you which ones I recommend from your answers.  

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 liquids 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 below 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 with a stay dry layer. Use reusable liners made from microfleece on any natural fibre inserts as baby will feel more wetness with natural fibres.  

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 sanitise on all the nappies before starting again once the infection is cleared.

It’s a myth that cloth nappies stink  but it’s actually the disposable nappies that give off highly offending odours as the urine and faeces reacts with the super absorbent polymers and the chemicals within. 

The only time I’ve had nappy rash with a cloth nappy was when I didn’t realise my little one had done a poo right after changing him and when I checked after 2 hours – he was all red. Where as a poo disposable nappy stinks as soon as they are soiled. This is why scented single use small plastic bags are used to wrap ispsosable nappies and tight closing nappy bins are a must. 

With cloth nappies you won’t get stink issues if there’s plenty of air flow around your used nappies – ie the airy basket a.k.a dry pail. A great wash routine with hot water and detergent will ensure nappies are kept in excellent non smelly condition! 

But If you notice your nappies have gone a bit “whiffy”… 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 is 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 the prewash you are washing in dirty water! Avoid keeping soiled nappies longer than 2 days. A daily prewash is highly recommended if main wash is done every 3-4 days. 
  3. Cold water washing is not recommended for cloth nappies as the enzymes in washing powders do not fully get activated  in cold water like with warm/hot washes. Nappies are a baby’s 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. If doing prewashing daily – add your night nappy to your pre-wash. Otherwise, Night nappies loaded with urine need a hot hand wash with detergent each morning.  Spin dry then place in the dry pail to be main washed with other nappies.

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 small holes – this is a sure sign of ammonia burn.

To neutralise ammonia do a 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! 

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 – downloadable pdf. 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. Reusable nappies should look more like underwear!
2. Are 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.  Dedicated night nappies or if you have a heavy wetter you may need to try a fitted nappy, preflat nappy or extra layers of absorbency to last longer. 
5. There maybe detergent or other build up from an inadequate wash routine. Try  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 natural fibre inserts to build up absorbency. Change them more frequently.
7.  Are your nappies old or pre-loved? Check the water resistant layer is not damaged (cracks) 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 you -more information here: https://nappiesandmore.com.au/products/nappy-repairs.  

Download our fitting guide here