Cloth Nappy Myths and Legends

  • By: Gian
  • Date: June 15, 2022
  • Time to read: 4 min.

So many common misconceptions surround reusable nappies that it isn’t surprising whenever you see a post asking for advice that almost every respondent provides conflicting information.
Following some of the most regular posts in our Facebook group we have come up with a shortlist of the most popular misconceptions.

1. Soaking new nappies overnight in a bath will help them increase in absorbency.

Soaking new nappies overnight

Depending on what fibre your new nappies are made from they will need slightly different treatment.

All nappies should be prewashed to remove manufacturing residue, dust, etc, just as advised for any baby clothes.

Natural fibres such as organic cotton and hemp will contain oils that need to be washed out using hot water and detergent.

Soaking in a bath overnight will not hasten this process, it can take up to ten washes for natural fibres to reach full absorbency. They need detergent, heat, and agitation to lift and remove the oils. Microfiber nappies should be at full absorbency after the first wash. Bamboo is not a natural fibre but will require a good wash to agitate the fibres and fluff them up. Think of a new towel before you wash it. Three to four washes are normally plenty. Of course, you do not have to complete all of the washes before you use them. One is plenty, just bear in mind that they may take a few more washes before they are at full absorbency.

2. Bamboo is a natural fiber

“Bamboo” products are actually usually labelled as Rayon. The fibre is manufactured from bamboo, it is usually not made from the fibres of the plant but is a synthetic viscose made from bamboo cellulose. If you are looking for a natural fibre, hemp and organic cotton are both used in nappy production.

3. Hanging nappies outside in the rain will strip them of washing powder residue.

It would literally take a couple of monsoons for this to work. Hanging them out does help smells reduce but does not reduce powder residue. The amount of rainfall per square inch of nappy is nowhere near enough to get the residue out. To remove residue you need to rinse, rinse, rinse until there are no bubbles left. If you need to strip wash your nappies, read our guide for how to do it!

4. Cloth Nappies Leak more than Disposables

Leaks are almost always related to fit. If you get the fit right and the absorbency is enhanced to the proper level, you will be well on your way to success. A daytime nappy should last approximately 3 hours, and there are specific nighttime nappies available to help you get through the lengthier amounts of time between changes of diapers. If you have leaking nappies check out the guide to how to stop reusable nappies leaking.

5. Cloth Nappies Cause Hip Problems

Cloth Nappies Cause Hip Problems

Cloth nappies do not have a negative impact on hip development, which is something we can state definitively.  

Indeed, several small-scale studies have concluded that the use of properly fitting cloth diapers can assist in pushing your baby’s hips into an optimal position and can occasionally aid in the prevention or correction of hip issues.

When a newborn has hip difficulties, certain podiatrists and orthopaedic surgeons will prescribe that the baby wear cloth nappies to assist the hips as they develop.

To the extent that it is possible, every single baby is unique, and as a result, will learn to walk at different stages and ages depending on their environment and the sort of diaper they are wearing. There is absolutely no evidence-based study to support the claim that cloth nappies interfere with proper motor development or that they do so in any way.

6. Cloth nappies are a lot of hard work

If you can wash a tea towel, you should be able to wash a diaper. What’s the difference between the two? Today’s cloth nappies are fastened with velcro or poppers and they are formed in the same way as disposable nappies. Yes, you may need to put on a second waterproof wrap, it’s still very easy? The decision on whether or not to rinse the nappies or soak them in the nappy pail is entirely yours. Choose the option that best suits your personality after you have read our dry pailing nappies guide.

Nappies and many wraps can simply be washed at 60 degrees. There is no need to soak or boil the wash. The most difficult part is getting into a routine – many people simply alternate washing their clothes with washing their diapers.

7. Nurseries or Childcare won’t use Cloth Nappies

This might come from the nursery itself which will have quoted health and safety legislation. But, rest assured, any person who is officially in charge of your child is obligated to accommodate every reasonable request made by the parents, and cloth diapers fall into this category. In the event that a nursery appears unwilling or says that they are not permitted to use cloth nappies, their Special Needs or Equal Opportunities policies will almost always demonstrate the contrary. Having said that, quality daycare is difficult to come by, and it may be necessary for cloth-using parents to make concessions if they find themselves in the midst of a significant attitude crisis. We’ve written a detailed guide on cloth nappies and childcare here.

This article was written by: Gian MIller – Full-Time Writer, Baby Whisperer & Dad of 3.

Gian spends a lot of his time writing. A self-proclaimed baby whisperer, Gian has been through it all with his own children and is passionate about sharing his hard-won wisdom with other parents. When he’s not writing or changing diapers, you can find him playing the guitar or watching baseball (or preferably both at the same time).