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Cloth nappies - total NOOB


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#1 moineau

Posted 23 July 2019 - 01:46 PM

Sorry Guys, I know there has been 2 posts on this recently - I have read them and am still VERY CONFUSED.


I would love to know a little bit more about cloth nappies - In as basic terms and I can get.

I don't know ANY of the acronyms or what 'pailing' is and have never even seen a 'flat square' or whatever the best thing for newborns is?

I would love to look into using cloth nappies and be able to make an informed choice for our family, our wallets and of course the environment.

I am interested in hearing about: smells, how often they will need to be washed, how they compare for absorbency and/or chunkiness, how to go about getting others on board with cloth nappies (Nanny might babysit one in a while)

And also I will be returning to work around the 6 month mark - Do day cares work with parents who have chosen cloth nappies, if so how does that work and does it make things more difficult being that I will not be able to wash straight away?

#2 Disydo2018

Posted 23 July 2019 - 02:48 PM

Hi moineau,

As you'll see from the other recent nappy thread, I'm also a complete novice. I can't answer your last few questions as my baby hasn't arrived yet but I thought I could throw in a few things.

First, I really recommend the videos on the nest nappies website. This is a shop in Brisbane that only sells cloth nappies and they have a blog with really helpful videos. They show you the different nappy types and how you put them on (real) babies.

As for acronyms and types, here goes:

The most basic nappies are flats, often called terry towelling flats. These are cheapest and you fold them in different ways depending on how big your baby is. They do up with a fastener, the fasteners I have area called snappis (google these). You then put a cover over the top which are kind like little plastic pants - this makes them waterproof. You don't need as many covers as you do nappies.

Second type is prefolds which are squares again but they have extra absorbency already folded into them. They're called prefolds, I think, because with a flat you are folding to create absorbency but this has already been done for you with prefolds. You can fold these on baby (again, videos online) and like flats you put a cover over the top.

Okay, then there are modern cloth nappies (MCNs) that come in all in 1s or all in 2s. These are both basically a cover which has inserts in it that are absorbent (kinda like sanitary pads). With the all in 1s, this is all stuck together, with the all in 2s, the inserts come out. This means the all in 2s dry quicker.

Another acronym you'll see is OSFM which means one size fits most. A lot of modern cloth nappies come in this size. They can be used for newborn but are very bulky so for newborn you can either get special newborn sized MCNs or use the prefolds and flats.

In terms of absorbency, different fabrics absorb more. Cotton is least absorbent, bamboo is more absorbent and then something insane like hemp is apparently just overkill in how absorbent it is but I have no idea about that. Microfibe isn't very absorbent but is often a layer in a MCN that draws away water. There are other fabrics. I went wiht cotton and bamboo because I like natural fibres.

I hope this helps a bit! Check out the nest nappies vides so you can visualise it.

#3 Schmig

Posted 23 July 2019 - 02:50 PM

I used modern cloth nappies for both my kids. Expensive up front but great over the long term.  

Absorbency was great. you can add extra inserts overnight if you have a baby that needs them and  they come with lots of cute colours and patterns on the outer covers.

I used to just stick them in a clean empty bucket with a lid and wash once a day. You have to be careful with what detergent you use and they are easier to clean if you use biodegradable liners and empty the solids into the loo.

My kids very rarely got nappy rashes and creche was more than happy to use them as I supplied clean ones every morning and they returned them in a bag to me when I picked the kids up. I just had to explain to them not to use nappy creme with them.

#4 EmmDasher

Posted 23 July 2019 - 03:06 PM

This is a great beginners guide https://www.darlings...-nappy-info.htm

We had a pedal bin with a fabric ‘pail liner’ (like a PUL non bag). The smell wasn’t noticeable and we washed every second day by removing the pail liner and tipping into the machine. The smell is worse with disposables I understand because the excrements tend to react with the absorptive crystals or something like that.

As for getting others onboard- it really depends on the person and their willingness to learn. We found all in one style mcn’s with Velcro that looked like disposables were easier for babysitters and less intimidating.

Daycare - depends on the Centre, their policies and how they’re set up. We weren’t able to use them at our Centre. It wasn’t a problem with the nappies per se but rather the changing area was too small to accommodate cloth nappies and mcn facilities like storage bags/bins for dirties. It sounds like a cop out but it really was a very small area. The Centre was otherwise great so not something I’d quibble about.

#5 Mollycoddle

Posted 23 July 2019 - 03:07 PM

I used terry flats (ie. the old-style ones) with nappy liners and the 'pilchers' (plastic pants) over the top, the latter were sometimes hard to get as they've gone out of use in latter years.  Secured with old-style nappy pins.  I would scrape off in the toilet then soak the liners and nappies in a bucket with Napisan, from memory I washed them every second or third day.  I used disposables for daycare only with my first as he was there only 1-2 days a week, my Mum minded DS some days and was right on board with the cloth as she was the one who encouraged me to use them and bought me a few sets. With my second I went to disposables full stop as I was at work full-time and couldn't be a*sed with the soaking and washing.

'Dry pailing' is the most disgusting thing I've ever heard of, IMO you gotta soak.

Edited by Mollycoddle, 23 July 2019 - 03:10 PM.


#6 EmmDasher

Posted 23 July 2019 - 03:09 PM

See I think soaking is revolting. I would never use a cloth nappy if I had to make poo soup regularly. I’d need tongs to retrieve items from the liquid and pull the plug. We tipped poop in the toilet and the machine had an ‘pre-rinse’ function so the machine did most of the hard work.

Edited by EmmDasher, 23 July 2019 - 03:41 PM.


#7 Disydo2018

Posted 23 July 2019 - 03:17 PM

As I say, I'm new to it but everything I've read and everyone I've spoken to says not to soak nappies but to use a wetbag or dry pail. This is from the cleanclothnappies website:

'Decades ago wet pailing (soaking nappies) was the most common method of dirty nappy storage. This is no longer a suitable or needed option. Napisan previously contained sodium hypochlorite (the active ingredient in bleach which sanitises(, it no longer does, so the modern Napisan/Vanish does not sanitise. Wet pailing poses a drowning risk, creates a perfect breeding ground for bacteria to flourish, constant soaking of nappies degrades them prematurely and is more labour intensive'.

#8 eigne

Posted 23 July 2019 - 03:38 PM

I would not be a fan of poo soup either 😂 I put ours in a half-cylinder-shaped kanga bag that I hang off a knob in the laundry. It zips up and contains the smell. Then when it’s time to do a load I turn it inside out into the machine so I don’t even have to touch the dirty nappies 👌🏻I do a load every 2-3 days because we use disposable overnight and she’s on daycare 3 days a week.

Daycare would have been ok to use cloth but I decided it wasn’t worth the hassle having to clean and pack nappies that frequently - I only have 14 in total so keeping up with the washing was manageable when I was home fulltime but a bit much back at work. I feel good about using cloth 4 days a week.

I have the bumgenius pocket style nappies so there is a waterproof ‘shell’ and you put in absorbent ‘inserts’.  

My husband was not very keen to start with but he came around. I find I’m the only one to do the washing and folding though haha.

Absorbency is fine. I change her maybe one extra time per day compared to disposable. We’ve hardly ever had nappy rash. Doesn’t smell any worse.

I keep a special scraping knife in the bathroom for solids going into the toilet. I’m used to it now so I don’t find that any more gross than wiping a dirty bottom.

Hope this all helps!

#9 mocha444

Posted 23 July 2019 - 05:51 PM

My one recommendation would be to join Clean Cloth Nappies Facebook group (they also have a website) for all your cleaning questions. They are the gurus and explain clearly how to wash your nappies so you never get a problem with smells, stains or rashes. Their website has great, evidence based resources on it.

#10 Disydo2018

Posted 23 July 2019 - 05:56 PM

I joined the clean cloth nappies Facebook group today! Super thorough and useful.

#11 laciem

Posted 23 July 2019 - 08:08 PM

There are so many options I think choosing what to start with is the most overwhelming part.

We use mostly prefolds with covers and a few AI2 (all in two) MCN.

I went with prefolds because we were living in an apartment when we started and they dry very quickly. Prefolds are also quite an economical options, especially second hand, and there are newborn options.  I picked up the AI2 nappies because we needed a few more and the patterned covers were adorable, but they do take much longer to dry.

There are lots of tutorials online and we just sort of fumbled through it as we went and asked for help in Facebook groups.

Clean cloth nappies are excellent for cleaning information. We started following their guidelines exactly and then fiddled a bit to make it fit better with our lives.

I now wash less often than they recommend. I dry pail and wash every 3 days with a 40°c prewash and immediately follow with a 60°c main wash, using premium washing powder, and haven’t run into any problems. I know others who wash more often but use a wet bag instead of the dry pail that the clean cloth folk recommend, and also have not run into issues. It is a bit trail and error.

Edited by laciem, 23 July 2019 - 08:09 PM.


#12 400

Posted 23 July 2019 - 09:46 PM

Depending on the nappy type, they may come with different care instructions.

We use hippybottomus bamboo MCNs (all in 2) and it pretty clearly states that you should dry pail as extended soaking will decrease the life of the nappies. Likewise anything above about 30-40 degrees used regularly or any harsh detergents will shorten their life.

As PP mentioned, it’s important not to use creams or lotions, or fabric softener when using the nappies (unsure if all or just the bamboo) as it leaves a residue that can build up and with time gets full of crud, eventually leaving them bad-smelling and poorly absorbent. They can be “reset” with a strip clean, but this is again bad for the nappies and shouldn’t be done too frequently.

Our routine is usually once a day wash, pre-wash on quick load with only water (found this essential with mild detergent to prevent lingering stink), then cycle on cool wash with detergent. Hang out and usually ready to go next day or day after. Nappies are dry-pailed, poo goes straight in the toilet or rinsed in warm water if it’s sticky- we never put the poo ones in the pail without a rinse but don’t leave the poo on to reduce the amount that goes in the machine.

We don’t use reusables out of the house, so always send DS to others with disposables. This is due to too many leakage accidents and the routine that formed when we got a bit fed up.

I’m lucky that DH is down with the routine (as long as he doesn’t have to do reusables out of the house) and even washes them 😊

#13 moineau

Posted 24 July 2019 - 10:50 AM

What exactly is dry pailing?

The idea of the the scraping does sound a bit gross - But I guess it's no worse than wiping a pooey butt or assisting to wipe while toilet training is it?

I'm hearing that the general consensus seems to be disposables outside of the house. That certainly does make sense. ..

I will like those pages on facebook when we have publicly announced, Until then I need to be at least slightly stealth..

#14 laurs

Posted 24 July 2019 - 11:22 AM

Have you considered a nappy wash service?

#15 laciem

Posted 24 July 2019 - 11:39 AM

View Postmoineau, on 24 July 2019 - 10:50 AM, said:

What exactly is dry pailing?

The idea of the the scraping does sound a bit gross - But I guess it's no worse than wiping a pooey butt or assisting to wipe while toilet training is it?

I'm hearing that the general consensus seems to be disposables outside of the house. That certainly does make sense. ..

I will like those pages on facebook when we have publicly announced, Until then I need to be at least slightly stealth..
Dry pailing is keeping the dirty nappies in an open basket, preferably with lots of holes in the sides, between washes.  It’s a bit counterintuitive but all the exposure to air helps prevent smells.

Even when using disposables poo should be scraped into the toilet once it is solid to avoid human waste contamination of landfill sites, so it’s really not much different to doing the right thing with disposables.

We started with disposables outside and overnight and have moved to 100% cloth, except with babysitters. I don’t find cloth out and about daunting anymore but it definitely was easier to ease into them in the beginning just doing it at home.

#16 Veryclucky

Posted 24 July 2019 - 11:44 AM

Dry pailing just means keeping it in a bucket/basket/bag until you are ready to wash.

I have done cloth with both kids and will be doing it again with #3. My routine is to have a large wetbag in the kids room for the wet nappies and I take it daily to the laundry.

Poo nappies I take straight to the laundry and if possible rinse off in the laundry sink straight away (occasionally due to child I have to leave it until later). Once they have solid parts to their poos, I tip what i can into the toilet first.

Then all nappies are placed in a bucket which sits in the laundry and I wash every couple of days. I do a short cycle first (15mins) as a pre wash to get the majority of the grossness rinsed out and then I do a full long wash in warm water with a full scoop of detergent. Then hang it all on airers. Doesn't add too much extra time to laundry if it is done regularly. (I often put the nappies on a delayed cycle to be ready for when the kids are in bed and I can hang up while watching TV).

Clean Cloth Nappies downunder FB group is awesome for tips and routines.

Oh and we use pocket MCN so they have absorbency inserts that go inside the nappy shell and we use a microfibre liner as a stay dry layer (also easier to rinse the poo off then the actual nappy). Because it all comes apart, the drying time is less.

#17 Disydo2018

Posted 24 July 2019 - 11:50 AM

If you’re in Melbourne botanical baby offers a nappy rash service for $35 a week. They supply all the nappies and adjust the number and size as your baby grows.

#18 waawa17

Posted 24 July 2019 - 02:58 PM

I dry pailed directly in the washing machine when at home - no need to make poo soup or tip big bags into the machine. I didn't use disposables when out (thanks to rashes) - just bought a few small PUL wetbags and dealt with things the usual way.

We were lucky and had a daycare that provided cloth nappy service themselves - all we had to do was provide a coming-home cloth nappy.

#19 Mollycoddle

Posted 24 July 2019 - 05:29 PM

View PostEmmDasher, on 23 July 2019 - 03:09 PM, said:

See I think soaking is revolting. I would never use a cloth nappy if I had to make poo soup regularly.

No poo soup here. I would scrape then rinse thoroughly before soaking.  If you don't soak how do you stop a dry poo crust from forming?

Edited by Mollycoddle, 24 July 2019 - 05:30 PM.


#20 laciem

Posted 24 July 2019 - 08:20 PM

View PostMollycoddle, on 24 July 2019 - 05:29 PM, said:



No poo soup here. I would scrape then rinse thoroughly before soaking.  If you don't soak how do you stop a dry poo crust from forming?

I scrape/tip solids down the toilet and then rinse whatever is left off, squeeze the excess water out and toss it over the side of the dry pail so it gets extra air. Never had a crust form.

I think poo soup refers to the poo bacteria from soiled nappies breeding in the soaking liquid more so than poo dissolving to make a soup. Unless there is something in the soaking mix to kill bacteria (e.g bleach) it can become a health risk. Nappisan used to contain a form of bleach when our parents used it for nappies but it doesn’t anymore.

#21 400

Posted 24 July 2019 - 08:37 PM

Me too. I tip big poo in the toilet, rinse in the laundry sink and wring out. If you don’t leave poo on the nappy, it can’t crust up.

My bucket doesn’t have airy sides, it’s sealed at the top (when DS doesn’t pull the lid off). The nappies stay as wet as they were originally but we wash every day.

We did use reusables 24/7 for a while using PUL bags for out of the house, they just went in the same wash. We only switched to disposables at night when the risk of leakage was interrupting sleep too much (tummy sleeper boy = very focal wet patch) and when I was at work and DH primary carer he switched to out of house disposables for convenience. If I was at home I’d probably try a bit harder!

#22 EmmDasher

Posted 24 July 2019 - 09:40 PM

View PostMollycoddle, on 24 July 2019 - 05:29 PM, said:



No poo soup here. I would scrape then rinse thoroughly before soaking.  If you don't soak how do you stop a dry poo crust from forming?

It just never happened. I tipped the poo in the toilet and tossed the nappy in the nappy pail. Can’t say I ever noticed crusts and the nappies weren’t exposed to air so they didn’t really dry out I guess. I can’t imagine going to the effort of scraping and rinsing nappies like that. Whatever floats your boat though.

#23 eigne

Posted 24 July 2019 - 11:02 PM

I’ve never rinsed a nappy before washing it. Never ever had an issue with staining or a crust. Just a good scrape, then straight into the wet bag in the laundry!

#24 400

Posted 25 July 2019 - 07:41 PM

I think I just hate the idea of unrinsed poo nappies going into the washing machine, like it would leave my machine all poopy, so I have always rinsed first. But I guess a washing machine by definition cleans itself so it’s a rather silly fear!

#25 Mollycoddle

Posted 25 July 2019 - 10:06 PM

View Postlaciem, on 24 July 2019 - 08:20 PM, said:



I scrape/tip solids down the toilet and then rinse whatever is left off, squeeze the excess water out and toss it over the side of the dry pail so it gets extra air. Never had a crust form.


Oh OK. I thought it was literally just scraping solids off and chucking it in a bucket without even rinsing.




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