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21 Jun 2022

5 reusable nappy myths debunked

We reveal the most common misconceptions about reusable nappies and offer our top tips to help make them easier to use
baby wearing reusable nappy

Reusable nappies are far more sustainable than disposables, but many are put off because of worries around washing, ease of use and the initial upfront cost. 

We surveyed 2,004 parents in February 2022 with a child under five, who told us their reasons for choosing not to use reusable nappies. 

We outline the most common concerns below and explain why they shouldn't stop you making the switch.

See how parents rate popular brands such as Bambino Mio, Little Lamb and TotsBots in our guide to the best reusable nappy brands

1. Reusable nappies are inconvenient to wash and dry 

Reusable nappies

Two in five parents (42%) told us they didn't want to use reusable nappies because of the inconvenience of washing and drying them. Washing reusables is always going to require more effort than using disposables but if you're able to establish a routine, it can start to feel like less of a chore. 

Follow these simple steps when washing reusable nappies:

  1. Remove the liner and flush any solids down the toilet. 
  2. Run a cold rinse or quick wash cycle first, without any detergent. This removes any remaining solids or urine. 
  3. Add detergent or washing powder and wash at the temperature recommended in the care instructions for your nappies.
  4. Hang the nappies up to line dry or tumble dry on a low setting if suitable. 

See our best disposable nappy brands - for those times when you're waiting for your reusable nappies to dry

2. Reusable nappies are messy to deal with 

baby changing reusable nappy

Two in five parents (39%) are worried about the messiness of reusable nappies - but there are things that can help with this. 

Reusable nappies are made up of two parts - an absorbent inner layer with a washable or disposable liner and a waterproof wrap that goes on the outside of the nappy. The liners are particularly handy as they allow you to flush any solids down the toilet, rather than having to store the soiled nappy in a bin before you wash it. 

Reusable liners can be put in the washing machine with the nappy, while disposable liners can be thrown straight into the bin. Many brands have made their disposable liners biodegradable too, for a more sustainable option. 

It's also not necessary to soak soiled nappies, which can be a messy process, as a cold rinse or quick wash cycle before adding detergent will take care of the pre-washing for you. Just place the soiled nappy in a dry bucket and wash it within two days to stop a smell developing or stains setting in. 

Want to know what it's really like using a reusable nappy? See our parent diary - my first time trying reusable nappies

3. Reusable nappies are expensive 

baby wearing reusable nappy

Three in 10 parents (28%) said they were put off using reusable nappies because of how much they cost. 

While reusable nappies do have a higher upfront cost than disposable nappies, they work out cheaper in the long run. If you take good care of them, you can also use them with more than one child or resell them on sites like Vinted and Gumtree, or Facebook selling groups. 

A great way to save on the upfront cost is to see if your local council runs a reusable nappy incentive scheme. These can include free starter packs or a voucher towards the cost of the nappies. Vouchers usually give you around £30-£50 off, but some councils offer up to £100 off. 

If you're still not convinced, we reveal the cheapest place to buy nappies 

4. Washing reusable nappies uses a lot of water and electricity  

reusable nappies on washing line

One in five parents (20%) said that energy costs are one of the reasons they have chosen to stick with disposables. But there are savings to be made. 

Try line drying your nappies instead of tumble drying. This can also increase their lifespan as excessive tumble drying can damage the fabric and elastic.  

It's not always possible to line dry reusable nappies, for example in the winter, so if you have to tumble dry do so on a low setting. 

An energy efficient washing machine can significantly slash your running costs, too. 

See our top five energy efficient washing machines for models that wash well while keeping costs low

5. Reusable nappies require a lot of extras 

six reusable nappies laid out

One in five parents (20%) told us that they avoid using reusable nappies because they require a lot of extras. 

Reusable nappies can be tricky to get to grips with, with some that come with separate parts that need to be joined together to make up the whole nappy. A way to get around this is by using an all-in-one reusable nappy, which has an absorbent inner layer attached to a waterproof outer layer. These are sewn together, so you don't need a separate outer wrap. 

Keep in mind all-in-one reusable nappies are slower to dry than two-part nappies, because of the extra material. 

Brands like Bambino Mio also offer sets that include all the nappy parts, laundry detergent and nappy storage so you have everything you need to get started in one pack. 

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