I’ve been using real nappies on my daughter since she was around 4 weeks old, and I love them, so much so that I’m a now real nappy advisor in my local area! I often end up chatting to other mums about nappies when they hear what I do, and there are some common misconceptions that seem to crop up again and again.
They are expensive
Real nappies do have a high initial outlay compared to disposables, but once you’ve bought them, that’s it! A full set of 25 birth-to-potty nappies plus accessories might cost you around £350 – although many people start with 10 nappies and build up a stash over time. The cost of washing nappies for 2.5 years (by which time your child will hopefully be dry during the day) is estimated at just under £100. This gives you a total cost of £450. The cost of using disposable nappies for the same period is estimated to be around £1885. By using real nappies you will be able to save over £1400 – and if you reuse the same nappies for any subsequent children the savings are even greater! Fill your pants offers a breakdown of the costs.
They are hard work
Not since washing machines were invented! Most people wash their nappies every 2-3 days, and once you get into a routine you hardly notice it. It takes a couple of minutes to load the machine, 5 minutes to hang the nappies out to dry, and if you’re using pocket nappies, a further 5 minutes to stuff them all once they’re dry. That’s pretty much it. Less than 15 minutes, 2 or 3 times a week, to save £1400 – that’s like paying yourself over £17 an hour!
They are smelly
It might be surprising to read but no, washable nappies are not usually smelly! Most people ‘dry pail’ these days, which means they just store their dirty nappies in a bucket with a lid, without soaking them. You may get a slight ‘rabbit hutch’ smell when you put them in the washing machine but that only lasts until you shut the door! Personally, I actually find this smell preferable to the chemical smell of disposable nappies. If your nappies do start to smell then it is a sign that they need strip washing.
They cause nappy rash
In actual fact there is no difference in the rates of nappy rash between disposable and washable nappies. In fact real nappies may be better for babies with sensitive skin as they don’t contain any chemicals – as Luschka has herself written about before, when she found that Ameli had a terrible reaction to one of these chemicals.
They are no better for the environment
There was an old study using data from 2002/3 which stated that the environmental impact of using washable nappies and disposable nappies was about the same. However this was based on assumptions such as people always washing nappies at 60 degrees and tumble drying. An updated report based on 2006 figures showed that if nappies are washed at lower temperatures and line dried then the environmental impact of real nappies is much lower than disposable nappies. And if they are used on a second child then the global warming impact drops by a further 40%. More details
Zoe Williams is mum to K, born October 2010 and blogs at Mummykins. She is also a real nappy advisor in East Kent.