environment Nappies reuse

Are cloth nappies cheaper?

I originally wrote a blog post on this a few years ago, but the disposable and the cloth nappy markets have changed so much recently, that it’s worth visiting again.

When I first started running a nappy library and retailing cloth nappies, it was as clear that using cloth nappies would definitely be cheaper. However, disposables have gotten a lot cheaper, especially since Lidl and Aldi have entered the market, meaning it’s not as clear cut as it used to be.

We’ll start with the assumption that the average baby will go through 6,000 disposable nappies a between birth and potty training as that is what research suggests. We will also use the assumption that you only buy 25 cloth nappies.

In Aldi disposable nappies retail at 85p for 24 or £4.39 for 98. Pampers were on at £12 for 52 or £18 for 104 or £8 for 39 for their “Eco” brand. That makes 3.5p per disposable for Aldi newborn 4.4p per bigger size disposable. Pampers are 23p to 17.3p for their normal brand, or 20.5p for their eco brand.

So, the cheapest disposables would cost £240 over 2.5 years, Pampers £1,038 and Eco £1,230.

Cloth nappies

Cheapest option – £100 for a birth to potty terry square kit – 24 terry squares, 6 wraps, bucket, liners.

Midpriced option – Ecobebe from Ecopipo all in two system – 5 complete nappies @ £10.99, 15 Ecobebe inserts @£5, 5 Ecopipo night nappies @£10.49. 3 wraps @ £10.49 = £213.87

Expensive option – 20 Tots Bots Easyfit – £360, 5 bamboozles @ £12 and 3 wraps @£12 = £456.

Accessories – Grow Up Green accessories kit (bucket, 2 x bucket mesh, wet bag, 20 fleece or 200 disposable liners) = £35

Washing – £1.00 for A or A+ machine and detergent = £125

Comparison of costs

So, from the table you can see, if budget brands suit your baby, then disposable nappies are fractionally cheaper. However, as you can use cloth nappies on more than one child and/or sell them on when you are done, then actually cloth would still work out cheaper. You could further save money by buying second-hand, bulk sets and kits and taking advantage of offers and sales. If you were planning on using Pampers or an eco-brand of disposables, you would definitely be saving money using cloth nappies.

Of course, the cost isn’t everything when it comes to using cloth nappies – there’s the environment and the cuteness to consider too. But knowing you aren’t breaking the bank while switching to cloth is always good to know!


Should I take my cloth nappies on holiday?

A question that often comes up at this time of year is “should I take my cloth nappies with me on holiday?” As with many questions in the cloth nappy world, there is no one right answer for everyone, and I have to confess that most of the time when my kids were small, I took disposables as we were camping. However, here are some points to consider:

What accommodation are you staying in? If you are in a self-catering cottage with washing machine and all the mod-cons, then it will be much easier to take cloth nappies than if you are staying in an hotel with no laundry. You need to ask yourself how you plan to wash your nappies. Not having wash facilities is not necessarily a barrier to using nappies, but you will need enough to last the time you are away and the means to transport damp, dirty nappies home with you. If you plan on bringing dirty nappies home, I recommend given them a good rinse out (bidets are good for this!) and dry them, then do a good long wash when you get home.

Do you have room to transport your nappies? This will depend on 2 things – how you are getting there, and which nappies you are using. If you are driving, you have plenty of space to take nappies. If you are flying 20 all in ones will take up a sizeable chunk of your luggage allowance.

Will you have the time to deal with your nappies? Selfishly, the reason I rarely took cloth nappies on holiday with me, was that I didn’t want to spend chunks of my precious holiday in the campsite laundry, or, as I saw on one camping holiday, washing nappies in the sink. I know that this was part laziness on my behalf!

If you’d REALLY like to take something more sustainable than disposables on holiday, but don’t think you can with your existing cloth nappies, here are some low cost options:

Take terry squares or prefolds.  These nappies are super versatile, quick drying and can handle being soaked. They are easier to hand wash than an all in one too.

    ,p>Take a hybrid nappy like a Flip or Grovia with disposable inserts. Because the plastic is in the reusable wrap, the disposable inserts are completely biodegradable

Whatever you decide, to cloth, hybrid or disposable, remember it’s your family, and your choice!


What happens at a Great Cloth Diaper Change

2014 Great Cloth Diaper Change event in Newcastle upon Tyne Photo copyright Mandy Charlton



For the last five years, the Real Diaper Association in the USA have coordinated a Great Cloth Diaper Change, an international record breaking attempt for the most cloth nappies changed at the one time. This year will see the 4th time that I have co-ordinated an attempt in Newcastle.

Basically, a Great Cloth Diaper Change is an event where parents come together and change a cloth nappy, en masse, all at the same time. To qualify towards the overall international total, there must be at least 25 adults over 18 at the event, changing a child each. The child must be under 39 inches tall and be changed into a commercially available cloth nappy. The change must take place at 11am on the dot.

The aim of the event is to raise awareness of cloth nappies, and media coverage is desirable. Last year we even had a parent turn up who wasn’t yet using cloth nappies – she was loaned a nappy for the event and had a great time.

The Newcastle event will be taking place at Broadacre House, Market Street, Newcastle, NE1 6HQ on 18th April between 10am and 12pm.

To make it a more fun event, there will be entertainment for the babies provided by Sing and Sign and Karma Babies, stalls to browse including Calmer Parenting Newcastle, Rebecca Embleton Usborne Books, Grow Up Green cloth nappies, Clarabugs Creations, Rock Solid Slings, Geeky Sweetheart and Parenting North East, there will be refreshments available to buy, a goody bag for each participant and a raffle for cloth nappies and other baby goodies.  To book your tickets visit our eventbrite page (tickets are free) or visit our Facebook page for all the details.

If you are not local to us in Newcastle, check out the Great Cloth Diaper Change international page to find out if there is an event near you – or consider hosting one!

advice Nappies

How do I use cloth nappies out and about?

Limited edition Clarabugs@Grow Up Green wetbags
Limited edition Clarabugs@Grow Up Green wetbags

When talking about cloth nappies with new parents, I often get the question “but how do you go out and use cloth nappies, do you have to carry a dirty nappy around all day?”

The short answer is “Yes, you need to bring your cloth nappy home with you,” but it isn’t as terrible as it sounds. The reason? Some genius invented wetbags! Wetbags are a waterproof bag, in which you can safely stash your wet and dirty nappies, any wet/dirty clothes and soggy burp cloths, to bring home and wash.

Not all wet bags are created equal, and you do need to think about what you will be using them for before you buy. Small wetbags typically will only hold one or two nappies, mediums will hold a couple plus clothes, a large will hold a day’s worth etc.. Some wetbags have drawstrings, which are easy to use, but zips will hold the smell and dampness in better. Some are single layer PUL, some are beautiful cottons and lined in PUL. The choice is yours.

The main things to bear in mind when taking cloth nappies out and about is – make sure you tip all solids into the toilet before bagging them, or you will have to take them out of the wetbag to deal with when you get home. The zip can deal with dampness, but not wringing wet, so probably not a good idea to sluice your nappy or overwet wipes before putting them in your wetbag.

If you are interested in some lovely handmade, British made lined wetbags, check out our very own Clarabugs Wet Bags –  they really are beautiful, affordable and ethically produced!

advice Nappies

Why are my nappies leaking?

Why do my nappies leak? Is a question I hear often, either people contacting me directly, or in facebook groups or forums. The answer is never straight forward, as there are many reasons your nappies might be leaking, and the reason will change depending on whether your nappies are new and are leaking from the start, or if they have suddenly started leaking after a period of working for you.

Whilst it always pays to check your nappies over to make sure the waterpoofing or elastic isn’t damaged in some way, there is usually a fixable solution to your problem.

The other question you need to ask yourself is “am I changing often enough?” – this depends on the age of your baby – newborns need changing very regularly, every couple of hours or so. However, I believe, after 9 years of using cloth nappies, that once you have your system working for you, a cloth nappy should last around 4 hours.

The first thing to make sure is that your nappies are fitting right. If you are new to cloth and used to disposables, then fitting cloth nappies can take a bit of practice. Firstly, make sure the leg elastic is sitting in the crease at the top of the babies leg, and not round the thigh. Check the elastic is tight enough at the leg and the waist. It should be loose enough that you can slide a finger under the elastic, but not loose there are any gaps.  If your nappies have suddenly started leaking, it might be time to move up a size or rise setting.

If your nappies are brand new, have you prepped them? Cotton and bamboo in particular, needing washing a few times before first use, to make them properly absorbent. Absorbency will improve the more you wash your nappies for.

Have you got detergent build up? Some detergents can coat the fibres of your nappies and make them less absorbent. If your nappy is not overly wet when it leaks, this may be your problem. To remove the residue, wash your nappies with only a small amount of washing powder (liquid is more likely to cause build up) and a cup of soda crystals (check your nappy’s warranty before doing this). Wash on a long wash, with extra rinses. Watch the machine drum as the machine rinses. If you still see soap bubbles, rinse again and keep rinsing until you don’t see any more bubbles.

Have you got compression leaks? A cloth nappy can make vests, clothes and even baby carriers too tight, and this tightness squeezes wee out of the nappy and out of the leg holes. This is usually seen with the wetness being more prevalent around the leg holes. Try going up a vest or clothing size and see if that helps.

Have you got enough absorbency? Particularly with pocket nappies, it might just be a case of adding more absorbency. If your inserts/fitteds are sodden and heavy when you change your baby, this may be your problem. Some fabrics are more absorbent than others, bamboo and hemp are a lot more absorbent than microfibre, so try adding more of these. For a really cheap, but effective way of boosting pockets, trying using a newborn prefold nappy – you can usually pick these up cheaply new, and often for free second hand.

Have you got a gusher? This is often a problem after 18 months of age, when babies are moving towards being physically ready for potty training. They store their wee up for ages, then let it go in one go. A clear sign that this is your problem is that you changing the frequency of your change makes no difference, you can change an almost dry nappy an hour or 2 after the last change, and then half an hour later they have wet through. Add more absorbency, microfibre absorbs quickly, but doesn’t hold as much – so use layers, with a microfibre insert on the top to absorb quickly and channel it into bamboo underneath,   and consider using too parts (even putting a wrap over an AIO).

I hope this helps, if you need further advice on making the most of your cloth nappies, do get in touch!  [contact-form subject=’Question from your blog’][contact-field label=’Name’ type=’name’ required=’1’/][contact-field label=’Email’ type=’email’ required=’1’/][contact-field label=’Website’ type=’url’/][contact-field label=’Comment’ type=’textarea’ required=’1’/][/contact-form]

Nappies recycle reduce reuse

Are cloth nappies really greener?


Grow Up Green (24 of 43)


I am frequently asked “are cloth nappies really better for the environment when you take into consideration all the energy you waste washing them?”

The short answer is “Yes, they are.”

A 2008 report by the Environment Agency found that if sensible approaches were taken to washing nappies, using reusable over disposable would reduce your carbon footprint by between 16 and 40%. You can read that report here

To obtain the 40% figure you need to wash at no higher than 60 degrees C, wash a full load (not necessarily of nappies, other items can be washed too) and pass nappies down to subsequent children or sell them on.

This figure only takes into consideration the manufacture and transportation of the nappies, it does not address the landfill issue. It is estimated that 400,000 tonnes of disposable nappies head to landfill each year (source: This obviously causes carbon emmission issues as the nappies breakdown, uses up valuable land to fill with rubbish, causes transportation issues of carrying that amount of nappies to landfill and finally the problem of human excreta ending up in landfill where it might pollute aquifers (I address this final issue here). Most cloth nappy users will use their nappies for multiple children and/or pass or sell them on to others when they no longer need them, meaning one set of 24 cloth nappies may have diapered 3 or more children before ending up in landfill (or textile recycling!)

Finally, it does not take into consideration all the chemicals and raw materials used in the manufacture of disposable nappies. For example, one cup of crude oil goes into each disposable nappy, and at a time when we are rapidly approaching (or some might say have passed) the point of Peak Oil, where we are running out of this resource that has many other more useful purposes than to be peed and pooed on, it is a serious consideration.

So in summary, yes cloth nappies really are greener than most disposables – they have a smaller carbon footprint, less waste ending up in landfill and uses fewer of the earth precious resources. So go on, give them a try!


Nappy washing – dispelling the myths!

When I talk to new grandparents about cloth nappies I get two reactions – “ooh I remember washing my nappies, it was lovely to see them all white fluttering on the line!” and “Gosh, I hated washing my nappies, all that soaking and steeping and if they didn’t come white enough in the twin tub then I had to boil them in the kettle!”

I reassure new mums that washing of nappies is really nothing you need to worry about. Modern fabrics and modern washing machines makes it a doddle. No need to soak, no need to boil. I know plenty of cloth bum mums that manage with just chucking them in the machine and running it at 30!

I must admit my wash routine is a little more complicated. Nappies in the machine and run a cold rinse and spin. This stops stains from setting and removes the worst of the soiling. After this, if the machine isn’t full, I throw in towels or white tshirts to fill the load. Then I wash at 60 (60 will kill most bacteria/fungus etc – after a baby who had recurrent thrush, I don’t chance a lower temperature!).

Yet, despite this ease, the washing of nappies is a whole topic of conversation and worse, a whole industry of products.

A quick trawl of cloth nappy forums will show you that different people add different things to their wash ranging from nappy sanitiser to vinegar. Then there is the camp that believe that using anything other than pure water to wash your nappies will ruin them (really?!) – my favourite blog post in that camp claimed that using soda crystals, bicarb or vinegar in your wash would reduce bamboo to its natural state (I still can’t get the image of putting nappies in the washing machine and pulling a bamboo cane out out of my head!)

Finally you have the very expensive”special” washing powders/liquids, usually imported from the USA (so not very “eco” in terms of airmiles!).

The best well know 2 are Rockin’ Green and Ecosprout. The links I have included take you to their ingredients list. So what makes these so special? Good marketing! All they are is a basic detergent, soda crystals and a sanitising agent called sodium percarbonate (Eco sprout give it its long chemical name of sodium carbonate peroxihydrate, but its the same stuff!). That’s it. That’s their “special nappy cleanser”

When customers come to me with problems of ammonia build up in their nappies, I tell them how to “make” their own nappy cleanser – take one tablespoon of biodegradable non-bio washing powder (Bio D, Ecover, Violets, Simply etc…), one tablespoon of soda crystals (widely available at around £1.30 a bag) and one of nappy sanitiser (I recommend Bio D Nappy Fresh or Violets Laundry Sanitiser – but this could be left out if washing at 60). There you go.

And before anyone wants to tell me that sodium carbonate or nappy fresh will ruin my nappies – I’ve been washing this way for 8 years without a break and my cheap terry fitteds are just about starting to fray around the leg elastic!


*please note that some manufacturers will void on their warranty if you use sanitiser ingredients in your wash, so you may want to check and make an informed choice.


Nap Nap Voucher Competition

we accept logo (3)

So, who would like £10 to spend on a nappy of your choice? Well, read ahead and you could win one!

Grow Up Green has just started accepting the Nap Nap voucher, which, if you haven’t heard, is a fantastic gift voucher scheme for cloth nappies. It can be exchanged a variety of retailers, but only for cloth nappies or wraps. More details can found here

To redeem a Nap Nap Voucher on Grow Up Green, click on “add note to seller” at check out and enter your voucher number. You will then receive a refund for the amount of your voucher, once the voucher number has been verified. Alternatively, you can email your order and voucher number to and you will be sent an invoice for the cost of your order less the value of your voucher. Simples!

To celebrate this new partnership, I have a £10 Nap Nap voucher to give away!

To enter, just comment below, saying what you love about cloth nappies. You can also gain extra entries by tweeting “I want to win a @napnaphq cloth nappy voucher with @growupgreen #win #clothnappies”

Entries must be earned by Monday 8th July at 8pm.

Good luck!


How do you get them dry?

There are many questions a parent, new to cloth, asks when I present cloth nappies for the first time. One of them is almost always “how do you get them dry?”

A discredited Environment Agency report written in 2005, claimed that washable nappies were worse for the environment than disposables due to the laundering costs. The report was discredited as the calculations assumed real nappy users were washing half-loads at 90 degrees and tumble drying every wash, which of course we don’t do.

Sensible laundering of your nappies is not only better for the environment (reducing your carbon footprint compared to disposables by 45%), but also prolongs the life of your nappies.

So, how do you get them dry? Well obviously line drying is by far the best! Not only does it use no additional energy, but sunlight is a wonder-cure for any staining, bringing your nappies back to a bright white! Not only that, but they smell great too!

However, we live in the UK and days we can get a load of nappies dry on an outdoor line are few and far between it feels.

Obviously using airers is the next best way to get your nappies dry, but in seasons where your heating isn’t on, it can take a while. I have to admit that I partially cheat. I hang the washing up in the morning, and anything that isn’t dry when the next load comes out the following day goes in the tumble drier to finish off. Not great, but better than tumbling a full load.

If getting things dry is an issue for you, for example if you don’t have a tumble drier or space to dry indoors or out, then carefully choosing your nappies can help.

Bamboo, whilst absolutely fabulous for nappies in many ways, can take forever to dry. Cotton has a tendancy to go crispy if dried on the radiator. The best solution for fast drying is micro-fibre.

There are many microfibre nappies on the market, all with their respective merits. I personally love Bumgenius for a quick change out and about, but you can’t beat a Bambinex teddy for quick drying. I kid you not that they dry in an hour or so inside! I’ve recently added them to the trial kits for those for whom speed of drying is of most importance!

So what about you? Any tips for getting nappies dry?teddy_nappies_colourssmall



Another Real Nappy Week over…

Phew, what a week! Real Nappy Week is a blast, but it’s everything about my “job” condensed into one week of manic activity. Here’s just an overview of what went on:

3 Nappuccinos around the region, 1 stall at a baby event,  1 dropping off of a trial kit and explaining everything there is to know about cloth nappies to a new dad, 1 Great Cloth Diaper Change event (didn’t quite make the 25 needed to count towards the total, but a really good fun had by all who attended!!), lots of dealing with enquiries by email, social media, and phone, processing orders, taking trial kit bookings and going to the post office.

My Northumberland agent also had 4 visits to baby groups around her region, making sales, taking trial kit bookings and delivering trial kits (and helping me with the Great Cloth Diaper Change events.

A selection of goodies from the website went to Billy to be included in the Great Cloth Nappy Hunt.

What about you? Get up to anything fun during Real Nappy Week?