[See part one on choosing the right cloth nappy here].
The first few years of your child’s life don’t have to cost a fortune.
One of the main ways to save money (not to mention the environment) is to use cloth nappies, either full or part-time.
Choice estimates that you can save between $900 to $2,000 on the first child (assuming you wash in cold and line dry). You will save more if you have more than one child using the cloth nappies.
You can save even more than this if you use the cheaper terry flat nappies or second hand MCNs.
My Little Lady will turn two in just a few weeks time, which means we’re into our fourth year of using cloth nappies.
I did a rough estimate and it has cost us less than $500 over the four and a bit years (for two kids) and that includes nappy purchase, laundering, covers, snaps and using disposable liners.
Using cloth nappies is not that much harder or more time consuming than using disposables. And once you get your system up and rolling, the whole washing thing becomes just another part of your routine.
Here are the 3 things to consider when getting starting in cloth nappies.
1. Choose your nappies
There are dozens and dozens of nappy brands to choose from and as such this is probably the hardest part of using cloth nappies.
Last week’s article covered the types of cloth nappies available as well as tips on buying them.
As well as choosing which nappy to buy, you will need to decide how many nappies you will need.
It’s generally recommended you get 24 nappies for full time use. This will allow for 8 nappy changes a day and doing a load of laundry every 2 days.
If you plan to use cloth nappies part-time (maybe using disposables at night or when out), then you may not need 24 nappies. And remember that as a baby gets older, you usually won’t have to change the nappy quite so much, unless they are a heavy wetter (there was a big difference here between my son and daughter).
2. accessories and other paraphernalia
Once you have your nappies, there are a few other items to consider.
Besides the nappy bucket, these other items are optional, depending on what type of nappy you have chosen as well as your chosen laundry method:
- A bucket with a tight fitting lid
- Waterproof covers (if you aren’t buying all-in-ones)
- Fasteners (for prefolds or flats. Snappis are great nappy fasteners and you can pick these up from Kmart or Big W)
- Liners (these are totally optional but do make life easier. No scraping poo off nappies, simply lift out the liner and flush down the loo. Liners can be found cheaply at your local supermarket although these ones are not flushable. Look online for flushable liners.)
- Wipes (you can use reusable ones made simply from old cut up towels or terry flat nappies.)
- Nappy soaker (optional, see below)
- A clothes airer
3. choose your laundering system
The type of nappy you buy will dictate exactly how your wash your nappy, but there are essentially two options: wet ‘pailing’ and dry ‘pailing’.
Wet pailing refers to soaking your nappies in hot water, either plain or with nappy soaker or vinegar. It’s important not to soak covers.
Dry pailing, the more popular option these days, especially with MCNs (and especially those with covers attached), is where you simply rinse the nappy in cold water after use and place in a nappy bucket with lid, without soaking.
The cheapest option when it comes to washing nappies is to wash in cold water and line dry.
You can usually use regular washing powder when washing nappies (check the instructions of your particular nappy brand) or make your own laundry detergent.
While most nappies can be tumble dried, a clothes airer allows you to dry nappies without a dryer even in bad weather (not using a dryer will also help the the nappies last longer if you want to keep them for siblings to come). See Getting your washing dry without a dryer for further details.
And that’s it. Just add baby.
When it comes to using cloth nappies, simply change bub, deposit any deposits into the loo, give the nappy a rinse and pop it into your nappy bucket. Then do a load of washing every couple of days.
Before you know it (it doesn’t feel like this time goes fast but it does looking back), that little baby will grow into a self-sufficient toileting toddler and those couple of extra minutes a day you spent washing nappies will mean hundreds of extra dollars to put towards something else.
Melissa Goodwin is a writer and the creator of Frugal and Thriving who has a passion for living frugally and encouraging people to thrive on any budget. The blog is nine years old and is almost like her eldest baby. Prior to being a blogger and mum (but not a mummy blogger), she worked as an accountant doing other people’s budgets, books and tax.