Getting Started with Cloth Nappies

This article has been written with beginners in mind. Those who are expecting, and are interested in the idea of cloth nappies, or those who were waiting until they ‘got used to being a parent’, but now don’t know where to begin.

First of all, we totally get it!

The world of cloth nappies can seem like an overwhelming place from the outside, especially with so many choices, varieties and brands, but we promise that once you make the choice to go cloth, with some guidance, you won’t look back.

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Here’s a quick look at how you can get started...

1. Get some Nappies

Anyone who has started researching cloth nappies will know that deciding which nappies to buy can be confusing. There are many styles, many brands and many opinions on which are best. We’re not going to explain all the styles as there are so many out there and new ones popping up every day, with many websites that give you this information, but here are some useful questions to ask yourself to help make the decision easier.

What style will suit me?

Prefolds? Snap in? Pocket? Fitted? All-in-one? All-in-two?

Each system has its pros and cons and at the end of the day they are all a great option for someone. But remember, everyone is different, so look at the pros and cons to help you compare and decide what is going to work best for you and your family.

For example, the Real Nappies prefold system is...
Pros – affordable, great fit, EASY to wash and super fast to dry, comes with a 2 child guarantee, you don’t need to change the cover each change so less washing is created, beautiful bold coloured covers, a fantastic everyday nappy.
For some people a con is that you need to fold the insert (see how simple the folds are here)

Compare this to an All in One.
Pros – one piece design which makes them more like a disposable, often available with colourful patterns.
Cons – You have to change the whole nappy each time so you require more nappies and end up with more washing, an expensive option, take longer to dry as the absorbent layer cannot be unfolded, bulkier, harder to get a good fit.

For some people the convenience of an all in one nappy is essential and they don’t mind the longer drying time or expense, for others the affordability and ease of washing and drying is more of a priority so a prefold system, such as Real Nappies, is best.

What closure suits me?

There are basically two options, velcro or snaps/poppers.  This can come down to personal preference, but if you want a look at the pros and cons of both these options, check out this blog here:


What fabrics to I want?

Things to look at here are natural such as cotton, hemp, bamboo vs. synthetic such as microfibre; organic or not; and for the covers PUL or minky.  All the fabrics have their pros and cons and there will be plenty of websites to help you figure that out.  Real Nappies prefolds are made of Indian Cotton, so they are fastest drying of the natural fibres and available in Organic.  Real Nappies covers are made from PUL.

Learn more on some of the differences between fabrics here: Fabrics Blog

Consider what YOUR priorities are. 

Do I need to choose just one style?

Not at all! Most people have a mix. Maybe they choose to use prefolds as their main everyday at home nappy and all in ones for when they go out. It’s totally up to you. Generally people have a favourite nappy style, but might have a few others styles in their stash for variety.

Some brands have handy starter packs so you know how many nappies or inserts and covers you need.

Check out the Real Nappies packs here.

2. Arrange storage

To make life easier with any nappies you need to sort out your storage, where do you keep the nappies so that they are easily accessible for change time? And where are you going to put the dirty nappies?

With cloth this is as simple as finding a bucket/basket that is big enough for your dirty nappies. You will pop the dirty nappies in here after you flush the solids (or rinse off the runny poo). There is no need to soak the nappies – this method is called dry pailing and common practice amongst the modern cloth nappy community.

An Example: My Change Set Up
What's in the shelves....


3. Plan your washing routine

Once you have a wash routine sorted you are ready to go!

Follow the washing instructions from the nappy manufacturer.

This usually involves throwing the dirty nappies in your washing machine, every 2-3 days, from the dry bucket they were stored in. Running the load through a short wash cycle to rinse them, then a normal or heavy duty cycle to wash them. Hang to dry or put in the dryer and they’re ready to use again. We recommend the use of a nappy sanitiser in the wash along with your laundry detergent to help keep your nappies fresh and clean.

You can read more about the Real Nappies washing instructions here.

Prefolds on the line

4. Start using your nappies

Just make sure you’ve prep your nappies before you start using them – again refer to the manufacturers instructions.

Typically either washing the nappy inserts three times or soaking them for 24 hours. This prepares the fibres in the nappy, maximising their absorbency.

Our best piece of advice is just go for it! Get some nappies and begin.

And if you have any questions just ask 🙂

Good luck!

Need to know more - check out our What to Buy page or our FAQ page for answers to all your questions. 

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