We’ve being using cloth nappies nearly six months now and I feel that during that time I’ve learnt a thing or two about how to make it a stress-free and successful experience. The first challenge was to get my head around all the different brands and the various types of cloth nappies there are out there, then to figure out which ones will be suitable to our little boy Max and our circumstances, and then to master the use of them. Well, one more task was to involve The Hubby and show him the ropes. It all felt like such a new world to us. But once we passed all of the above hurdles, it was time to just ‘get on’ with it. And so we did. But soon questions began to arise – what do we use to wash the nappies? Do we use a special powder? How do we store the dirty nappies? And what about when we go out, what do we do then? So for this post, I’ve put together my five essential accessories that you’ll need to consider purchasing to help you with day to day usage of cloth nappies.
If you’re considering whether to start using cloth nappies or not, then you may want to read about our switching experience in my earlier post Cloth bum diaries as well as what to look for in a nappy in my post Tickle Tots Original Cloth Nappy Review.
Liners are these super-thin and flushable pieces of fleecy material which you place inside the cloth nappy to help with containing the solids and keep your little one’s bottom dry. You don’t need to use them but they do make a big difference in keeping cloth nappies as clean as possible and avoiding mess. I’ve tried three types by two different brands but I keep coming back to these biodegradable Bambino Mio mioliners. There’s 160 of them in a pack so they last a long time and are excellent value for money. Plus, they’re 100% natural (made from renewable and sustainable cornstarch) and can be used with any type of a reusable nappy. In my view, what makes them great is that, unlike the other liners we’ve tried, they don’t ‘scrunch up’ into one thin layer in the middle of the nappy (which defeats the purpose of containment) or get soaking wet – instead they stay in place and remain dry. As I mentioned before, they’re flushable (only one at a time) when soiled whilst the wet ones can actually be composted as well.
2. Washing cleansers
I often get asked by parent friends who don’t use cloth nappies or curious friends without kids whether washing reusable nappies is a “faff”, whether it’s disgusting washing them in your washing machine and whether they stain really badly. And the short answer to all of these questions is: “No”. But I would be lying if I didn’t admit that I also wanted to ask these sort of questions before I decided to switch to cloth nappies. The long answer to these burning questions above is that stains are absolutely minimal (in fact, pretty non-existent), whilst washing & drying cloth nappies is perfectly hygienic and simply becomes part of your usual washing routine. To wash your nappies, you don’t really need any extra washing powders but it’s recommended that you use non-bio powders or gels (powders are said to be better for cloth nappies as gels can accumulate inside the fibres and cause detergent build-up) and that you don’t use any fabric conditioners as they can deteriorate the condition of your nappies. I personally use soap nuts as my washing detergent (you can read a review of them in my post Nuts about Ecozone soap nuts?) but I also use the Tots Bots Potion Parma Violets (which makes the nappies smell divine!). My usual routine is every 2-3 days and involves doing a cold rinse of the soiled nappies (this helps prevent the stains as hot water actually sets in the stains) and then a usual wash at 40 degrees. Every now and then, I will do a 60 degree wash if there’s a load with particularly soiled nappies. For babies under 3 months, it’s recommended to always wash reusable nappies at 60 degrees.
Also, so far we haven’t had to use any stain removal potions and in fact, I don’t think we need to as the stains are so minimal. In the summer, sunshine is the biggest cloth nappy friend as it acts as a natural bleach so even if you do get a couple of stains, just hang them out in the sun.
If you, like us, live in a hard water area and have bamboo nappies as well as soakers and boosters, then they can become quite rough and dry after washing. To help combat this, you can add a cupful of white wine vinegar to your usual washing powder (but only when washing the bamboo nappies/ boosters, not the PUL covers) or hang them out in the rain. We haven’t yet tried the rain method but the vinegar method has made some difference, although not significant. I’ve recently come across another method which is to rub two bamboo nappies/ boosters against each other, and I can tell you this method totally works! The nappies and boosters are as soft as when I first bought them – genius!
Wetbags are a must for cloth nappying when you go out and about. When you use disposables, you obviously bin the used nappies but with cloth, you need to be a bit more organised. I must say that at first it felt a bit odd to be walking around with a dirty nappy in Max’s changing bag but when you have a good quality wetbag especially designed for cloth nappies and keeping any smells at bay, then there’s really nothing to worry about.
I have tried three wetbags so far and I have to say that the Tickle Tots one is my absolute favourite one. That’s because of its generous size (30cm wide by 35cm long) which makes this wetbag the biggest I have come across so far. It also has two zipped compartments – the large one is big enough to hold a few dirty nappies while the smaller one is sufficient to store wipes, a couple of clean nappies and other accessories like nappy balm. The wetbag is also waterproof as it has a double PUL layer inside. Another great feature is its detachable mesh lining inside the large compartment which makes the washing of cloth nappies that bit easier – all you need to do is transfer the entire contents of the wetbag and pop it into your washing machine.
4. Storage bin
You obviously need to store your wet and soiled nappies somewhere so I do recommend getting a cloth nappy storage bin. You could potentially use a conventional nappy bin used to store disposables but most bins designed for cloth nappies come with a detachable mesh lining which (as with the wetbag) makes washing super easy. Ours is from Bambino Mio and I’ve previously written about it here – it holds a good amount of nappies and keeps all smells at bay.
The final tip from me is to ensure that your little’s skin is well looked after. Generally speaking, cloth nappies won’t irritate your baby’s skin but there’s bound to be an occasion (or two) when the poo-nami strikes and after a while some redness may come up. To look after Max’s skin, I use and recommend Weleda’s Calendula Nappy Cream, Nom Nom Skincare’s organic baby butter (full review here) as well as my recent DIY lip balm. All are perfectly safe to be used with cloth nappies but if you do use them, then you need to make sure you also use liners – this is because any oil-based skincare products may deteriorate the fibres inside the nappy and compromise its condition. We also recently switched to reusable wipes made by Cheeky wipes (review available here) which are fabulous and make caring for Max’s skin even easier.
Have you used any of the products mentioned above? Are there any other accessories that you can’t be without?
Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post but it does include some products that were sent to us in exchange for a review. All views expressed in this post are 100% honest and mine.