We have been helping parents start their journey with reusable nappies for a long time now and they are still as mythical as ever. Here are our top ten myths busted.
It’s all or nothing. Just because you choose to reuse, it doesn’t mean that a disposable nappy must never cross your threshold again. You’re not comfortable using reusables when you’re out? Then it’s fine to use a disposable. You’re upstairs and the reusables are downstairs? Just grab what is closest. Using just one reusable a day stops around 900 nappies from being thrown away – every little bit makes a difference and there’s no rule that says you must exclusively cloth bum.
Getting started is too expensive. A quick peek at the cost of a new set of 20 nappies can make your eyes water. But getting started with reusables doesn’t have to be painful. You can buy one or two at a time and build up your set gradually. If you’re switching from disposables, you will quickly notice that you’re buying fewer disposables each month and you can use those savings to fund your next reusable. Friends and family love to gift nappies for baby showers and birthdays (modern nappies are seriously cute), and buying pre-loved nappies can cost less than a pack of disposables. It’s also worth reminding yourself that using reusables for two children – or selling them on when you’re done – can easily save you £1,000 compared to using single use nappies. Which suddenly makes that initial outlay much more bearable.
They’re too much hassle. Reusables aren’t more work – they’re just different work. Using washable nappies full-time adds about two extra loads of washing a week. Which might sound a lot if you’ve not got children. When little one arrives? It’s sounds more like a drop in the ocean. The trade-off for the extra couple of washes is no more late night dashes to the supermarket when you run out of nappies, no more emptying stinky nappy bins every day, and no more maggots in the overflowing outside bin in the heat of summer.
The extra washing means they’re not much better for the environment. Washing reusables uses about ten times LESS water than manufacturing single use nappies. Single use nappies are made of plastic and wood pulp. Manufacturing them is water intensive – and the waste water is polluted with industrial toxins, which are far worse than anything in your washing powder. Washing nappies is far better for the environment than manufacturing disposables.
Putting poo in your washing machine is gross. This is the deal breaker for lots of parents. Reality is, fortunately, a lot more palatable than myth. First things first – most of the poo gets knocked off the nappy into the loo. (Which, let’s face it, is a far better place for poo than the bin.) Anything that’s left on the nappy gets cleaned in the washing machine. If you’re still a bit grossed out, it’s worth remembering that nurses wash their own uniforms and farmers wash their overalls. All human underwear – adults included – includes traces of faeces after it’s been worn…and it all comes out clean. If washing nappies really was bleurgh, then someone – the single use nappy manufacturers, the public health authorities, or certain sections of the media – would have pointed it out by now.
You can’t use cloth with twins. Twins are hard. Double the feeds, double the sleep deprivation, double the clothes washing…but not double the nappy washing. Washing for two doesn’t need to be any more frequent than washing for one, depending on the size of your machine and how many reusable nappies you own. There are plenty of reasons why cloth bumming two is a bonus. You’ll need 30-40 nappies instead of 10,000. You’ll double the amount you save (enough for an extra month of parental leave). And you won’t have a supermarket trolley so full of nappies that you can’t fit anything else in it.
Childcare won’t use them. Most childcare providers are happy to use reusable nappies. Some actively encourage it, offering discounts to cloth bum parents because of the waste disposal costs they save. Even if your childcare provider is one of the few that’s unwilling to use reusables, there’s no reason why you can’t use cloth at home and reusables at childcare.
They leak. Well, it’s not unheard of – but a well-fitted reusable nappy will leak less than a single use nappy. Especially when it comes to poo. The elastic at the back of a reusable nappy means that up-the-back poo-namis are virtually unknown in reusables.
They use pins. Take a peek at a stash shot of modern cloth nappies (it’s a thing) and there won’t be a safety pin or plastic pants in sight. Cute seasonal designs that match the latest clothing range? Yup. Easy to fit all-in-ones with poppers or velcro? Yup. Pins and plastic pants? Definitely not. Nappies in the 21st century are as stylish as the hottest clothing ranges – new print launches are eagerly awaited and can sell out within days; hashtags like #fluffyfriday and #fluffylove abound; and the first time your little one chooses her favourite nappy at change time is a ridiculously lovely moment.
It’s not worth starting with a toddler. If your little one is six months from potty training, you can easily save 1,000 nappies from being thrown away. Even if you’re not planning any more children, the switch can work financially when you choose nappies with a great resale value or buy pre-loved. And you could make potty training a whole lot easier – there’s lots of anecdotal evidence that reusables make potty training easier. Which could quite possibly be the clincher.