Pro tips to delay wear & tear in cloth nappies

As a parent committed or looking to using cloth nappies, you've already taken a significant step towards reducing waste and caring for the environment. But did you know that there are ways to extend the lifespan of your cloth nappies even further? In this blog post, I'll share some expert tips on how to delay wear and tear on your cloth nappies, ensuring they stay in top condition for longer.


Wear and tear is normal and is an expected consequence of using anything!


What we don't want is premature wear and tear or to accelerate wear and tear by doing something.

A nappy could say:



So here are a few tips that can help prolong the life of your nappies:


1. Avoid Using the Drier 💨

The PUL lining of the nappy cover and the elastics can be affected by high heat in the drier.

  • Air dry whenever possible: line drying your cloth nappies is the gentlest way to dry them. For maximum life, avoid direct sunlight as that can damage the PUL layer of nappy covers. Inserts are fine to dry in the sun.
  • Avoid high heat: excessive heat from tumble dryers can damage the elastic and waterproofing materials in your nappies. If you must use a dryer, choose a low heat setting or air fluff cycle.

It's always best to line dry if you can as this will save you the most money.

Especially the nappy covers that don't have any absorbency such as the Real Nappies Snug Wraps, dry super quick line-drying anyway. Hang them on the line as an inverted "U" over the line or on the side of the washing basket.


2. Proper Washing 🧺

One of the most common questions people ask me when I explain the nappy wash routine is “why do nappies need two washes?”

Modern cloth nappies often contain multilayer inserts. Urine and soiling penetrate deep into the fibres. The more layers an insert has, the more difficult to remove urine and soiling.

Urine contains a compound called urea. After being excreted from the body, urea changes into ammonia and it is the ammonia that damages cloth nappies over time.

  • The best way to remove soiling and prevent ammonia is to run the first wash (prewash) within one or two days. The sooner the better.
  • Before the prewash keep nappies as aired as possible. Wet nappies will develop ammonia faster, so it's best not to rinse unless you have to.
  • Night nappies contain a lot of urine and therefore should be given at least a quick hand wash with a dash of detergent as soon as possible. Wring out as much water as possible and put in the dry pail.
  • Use a good quality detergent that will wash effectively and use enough detergent for the size of your washing machine (eg. doing dishes with not enough dishwashing liquid is not going to give you great cleaning power).
  • For hook and loop nappies, use the wash tabs to prevent wear and tear on the velcro. I actually prefer to stick the velcro tab on the main front panel as that also reduces the nappy cover getting stretched during washing.

Refer to the Real Nappies Car Instructions for more details.

Did you know the Real Nappies Snug Wrap nappy covers typically only need one wash?

If non-absorbent covers are clean, smell, and stain-free after the first cycle, they don’t need to go into the main wash. If they smell or have stains after it, then put them into the main wash. Alternatively, you can put them into the main wash only. 

How good is that!


3. Even rotation ⚖️

It's natural to love a certain nappy print or colour and reach for that one more than others. But this will cause more wear and tear on that particular nappy as it is worn and washed more often than the others.

Something to be mindful about as most of us are guilty of this! 😅


4. Having a large stash

Having a large stash of cloth nappies means each individual nappy will be worn and washed less often than if you have a small stash.

It's not the best tip if you want to save money... but it will save you money in the long run if you're planning to use the nappies for multiple children.

And it's an excuse to do more cloth nappy shopping 💃👏


5. Invest in Quality Nappies

Quality matters 📣

  • Invest in quality inserts and boosters made from natural fibers like cotton or hemp. These materials are more durable and absorbent than synthetic alternatives.
  • Invest in quality nappies: you really do pay for what you get. Many cheap supermarket or big box retailer nappies do not fit well or stand the test of time. It breaks my heart to read of parents who have invested money in cheap nappies that have quickly degraded. Research brands that you are interested in cloth nappy groups to see what past comments other parents have made about them. Sometimes, even higher priced nappies have quality issues.
  • Look for any quality assurance: example Real Nappies offers a 2-child limited warranty on the nappies.

 And that's also the difference from buying secondhand nappies vs buying from a retailer. If there is a problem with the nappies, you can contact the retailer and have some recourse to solve the issue.


6. Proper Storage 

  • Ensure nappies are fully dry before putting away: fully dry your nappies, especially in humid climates so that mould or mildew doesn't develop on them 🧫
  • When not in use: avoid storing them in damp or humid areas for the same reason as above.
  • For long term storage (eg between kids): sanitise your nappies, ensure they are fully dry and use breathable containers or bags to prevent moisture buildup and odors. Store in a cool and dry place (not the warm attic for example). Cardboard boxes are ideal 📦


7. Repair and Maintenance 🔧

  • Address issues promptly: keep an eye out for signs of wear and tear, such as loose stitching. Addressing these issues promptly can prevent further damage and prolong the life of your cloth nappies.
  • Learn basic repairs: if you can learn basic sewing techniques, you can make minor repairs yourself. This will save you time and money in the long run.




By following these expert tips, you can reduce wear and tear on your cloth nappies and extend their lifespan. Remember, a little extra care goes a long way when it comes to preserving your cloth nappies for future use.

But also, don't go stressing about every single small thing, nappies are meant to be used. They have a rough life and will eventually not be usable.

You will still have save thousands of dollars for your family, reduced waste and cared for the environment!


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