Common myth and misconceptions

We’ve put together a list of the top five most common negative points made against using washable nappies, and our answers!

1. Washing nappies takes so much water, environmentally they’re just as bad as disposables

Of course, washing nappies uses extra water. An extra 3 loads or so a week is an extra 30 litres of water. Comparatively, a disposable nappy requires about 37 litres of water to produce; if you use around 8 nappies a day, that’s 56 nappies a week and a huge 2072 litres!

It’s not really possible to directly compare the two kinds of nappies and their impact on the environment as there’s so many different factors. But the most recent Environment Agency report states that using washable nappies can have 40% lower carbon footprint than using disposables.

2. All that soaking, and washing! I just don’t have the time.

Washing machines and detergents really have moved on a huge amount since the days of  soaking and boiling nappies. When there are solids to get rid of, they go down the toilet then you store your wet nappies in a bag or a bucket. Once you have enough for a full load (or you can top up with washable wipes or other items to bulk out the load), you pop a wash on. Your nappies can be line dried, or anything without any waterproofing can be finished off in a tumble drier to speed things up.

It really is as simple as an extra load of washing every 2 or 3 days!

3. Washable nappies are so expensive

It’s true that individual washable nappies are more expensive than disposables. Buying them all at once is a big financial outlay. But you can buy them individually and build up your stash gradually, using them part-time until you have enough. You can also look at buying your nappies secon hand. Many of them last for two or more babies and so people sell them on when they have finished with them.

Using your local nappy library can also help as it will cut out the guesswork and buying nappies that end up not suiting you or your baby. Making informed decisions about what you buy will help your money go further! Most nappy libraries (ours included) have some long term loan kits that they lend out for free to families who cannot afford a full set straight away.

4. Washing nappies and all that poo in my machine, EW!

Well firstly, as we’ve already mentioned, the poo gets disposed of as much as possible down the toilet, where it gets dealt with by the sewage system. You can use a liner in your In our opinion, this is much less icky than wrapping it in plastic and putting it into landfill!

Washing nappies in a washing machine is like washing your hands before eating a sandwich. No matter what you’ve been doing, you don’t boil wash your hands! You use plenty of soap, agitation and water to rinse the dirt away. The theory is the same with washing nappies. A good robust washing routine will do the same for your nappies.

Babies tend to get poo, puke and dribble on their clothes and bed sheets anyway (all nappies leak sometimes!), and all of that goes in the washing machine. Using washable nappies is no different to washing these items. If you want to bulk out your machine with extra items, you can put your nappies in on their own first and do a rinse cycle, then add the extra items for a full wash.

5. Washable nappies are so bulky, my baby’s clothes won’t fit and I’m worried they won’t be able to move properly.

Nappies made of fabric can be a little bulkier, yes, because they don’t have the filling gels that soak up the moisture. But if you compare a full disposable nappy and a full washable, there’s less difference. Disposable nappies are slimmer around the hips and using stretchy clothing like leggings and tights can really help with this. You can also buy vest extenders to help stop compression leaks from a too-tight vest!

That extra bulk in the fabric isn’t going to stop your baby’s brain developing, which is where they decide to try rolling, crawling and walking. And no one was delayed in these milestones when every baby wore a terry square and plastic pants! Also, when they’re learning to move and stand up to walk, that extra padding on their bottoms is a good thing!

If babies have a problem with their hip development, keeping their legs open in a ‘frogged-legged’ position is recommended and a bulkier nappy can help with this.

We can offer advice to anyone wanting to know more about washable nappies and reusable products.

please contact emma@northsomersetnappies.org.uk if you would like to know more.