Cloth Nappies: How to get started

Cloth Nappies are fun in rainbow colours

You are here because you are thinking about making the switch to cloth nappies! How exciting! I promise you now, it is easier than you might think.

There are so many reasons why people use reusable nappies. My main motivating factor was definitely the reduction of waste. The thought of my children’s nappies still hanging around in landfill in 400 years was enough to steer me towards reusable nappies. That’s just one reason though. Cloth nappies are also a lot kinder to baby’s sensitive skin. They are mainly made from organic fabrics and without any toxic additives, you typically find in disposable nappies. Another plus: Once you got the perfect fit, they hardly ever leak! Which means NO MORE poo-explosions!

Whatever your reasons are, you are probably wondering where to start?

Finding the right cloth nappy

There are many different brands out there that offer many different types, styles, and variations of styles of nappies. Don’t worry! You don’t need to buy them all to find the perfect cloth nappy for your baby.

I would, however, recommend that you try different styles when you get started before investing in your cloth nappy stash! When you are based in Ireland you can rent a nappy trial kit from the cloth nappy library which is a great and inexpensive way to dip your toes in. If you prefer to buy a starter kit you have a number of different options. My tried and trusted retailers in Ireland are Baba Me, Earthmother and Fluffybums. The UK based website The Nappy Gurus offers a great variety of different cloth nappies as well as an enormous amount of information in the form of articles and videos as well as personal email support!

What you need!

Cloth Nappies (obviously 🙂 )

The amount of cloth nappies you need depends on your child. In general, you would need between 8 and 10 nappies each day for a newborn, where a toddler might only require 4 to 6 cloth nappies to get through the day!

To be able to wash every second day, you would want your cloth nappy stash to consist of a minimum of 20 nappies. Of course, this doesn’t mean you have to buy them all at once. Start with one and add to it whenever you can. Every cloth nappy you use prevents one disposable nappy from going to landfill and therefore makes a difference!


Once you have your nappies, you also need a wet bag or a nappy bucket to keep the dirty nappies until you wash them. I have started out using a bucket, but very quickly switched to a large hanging wet bag. While you have to empty the bucket into the machine and wash the bucket separately, you simply have to open the zips of the wet bag and throw it in the washing machine! No touching soiled nappies plus bag and nappies are washed in one go – always handy to save time.

You can also get some cloth nappy liners. These are optional but very handy for catching solids. You can either get disposable liners (even though some of these are advertised as being flushable, they are not! DO NOT FLUSH THEM! They clock up your plumbing!) or reusable fleece liners. Despite the reusable aspect of fleece liners, they are also designed to whisk the moisture away from the skin and keep your baby’s bum dry – if this is what you prefer!

Depending on the type of nappy you are using you also need some nappy inserts and/or boosters. This is literally a piece of fabric that is added to the inside of your nappy to create an extra layer of absorbency. Most inserts are made from organic cotton, bamboo or hemp.

NOTE: New cloth nappies need to be pre-washed. Follow the manufacturer’s guidelines as the number of pre-washes required depends on the fabric!

Reusable cloth nappies rainbow colours

Fitting a cloth nappy

To make sure you don’t get any leaks, it is important to fit the cloth nappy correctly! Their fit is slightly different from conventional nappies.

  1. Place the nappy very low on your child’s back. Just at the start of the bum.
  2. Pull the front up towards the naval and bring the closing tabs around the waist.
  3. When you pull the tabs to close pull them slightly up!
  4. The elastics on the side need to be tucked in the nicker line (not pulled out as you would do with a disposable!). Check for a snug fit around the legs, there should be no gaps!
  5. If fitted well, your finger will fit easily between your baby’s belly and the top of the cloth nappy.

Changing cloth nappies

Depending on what nappy and fabric you are using, you typically need to change them every 3 to 4 hours. Of course, there are super absorbent nappies available for night time.

Wet nappies can go straight into your nappy bin or wet bag. Before your baby starts solid, even soiled nappies can go straight in the washing machine. Once your child is eating food and produces more solid poo, you need to tip any solids in the toilet and maybe give the nappy a quick rinse before washing it. There is no need to soak your nappies until laundry day!

Washing cloth nappies

Depending on the size of your stash you wash your cloth nappies every second or third day. Chuck them all in your washing machine, if you are using a wet bag, just unzip and sit the wet bag in your washing machine (no need to empty out the bag, the machine will do that for you)!

  1. Start with a cold rinse first.
  2. Add your washing powder – it is recommended to wash nappies in powdered detergent and don’t use fabric softener, as this might cause a build-up in your nappies which will decrease absorbency.
  3. Wash your nappies at a minimum of 40°, I always wash them at 60°, but I know some manufacturers recommend only 40° washes.
  4. Add another cold rinse every once in a while to flush out any excess detergent.
  5. Line dry or tumble dry on low.

That’s it! It is really that easy!

Depending on how many nappies you are washing, you can add some other laundry after your first cold rinse. That way your nappy washes just blend in your usual laundry and it doesn’t add to it too much! In fact, I honestly believe it doesn’t make a huge difference, even when I had two babies in nappies it was very manageable.

Reusable nappies fun print with sloths

Cloth nappies: You won’t look back!

The most important step you take on your cloth nappy journey is the first! If you are interested in it, just give it a go. There’s not much to lose! Get a nappy that you like the look of or order a trial kit and just see how you get on.

You might have a few weeks of trial and error, but once you found your groove, I promise you – you will not look back and it will give you such a great sense of accomplishment every time you use a cloth nappy, knowing that you are actively working on a cleaner planet for your children and grandchildren!

Do you have any questions? Leave a comment or send me an email – I am happy to share my experience and knowledge to help you get started!



  1. November 19, 2020 / 6:44 am

    Your article was very nice.It was totally informative.thank’s to share.

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  2. Cheryl
    November 16, 2021 / 6:42 am

    I’m just desperate to know what the rainbow with white stars nappy is in the picture!

    • November 26, 2021 / 7:07 pm

      Hi Cheryl,
      That is a smartbottoms 3.1 – unfortunately, I can’t remember the exact name of that print. Would you like to send me a quick email? Depending where you based, I might be able to help you get one 🙂

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