Nappy choice- Washable versus disposable


A friend was asking about the virtues of washable nappies aka real nappies, so I decided to share my thoughts on why we chose washables: Before my first child was born, I did a lot of research into the pros and cons of washable nappies and disposable nappies. I did the sums and knew that if I had more than one child who I used washable nappies on they would save us a lot of money. (Some great info of these is available on the Go Real website). I also have an environmentally conscious streak (besides my frugal streak) and hated the thought of disposables piling up in landfill. If I had to make a weekly choice, knowing myself, I would always choose the cheaper supermarket brand disposable nappies, not the more expensive environmentally friendly ones.

… I took the plunge and got washables nappies:

Most of our washable nappies were second-hand. We were given a batch of washable nappies, ones with nappy nippers, by a friend. (They’d served her two children and were in nice clean condition still. One or two barely noticeable stained ones only.)

I also bought a batch load of new/ nearly new Motherease nappies off EBay (-back when they still auctioned nappies. Now they don’t allow them because of hygiene reasons, they say.) This was a full set, 20 odd nappies, a roll of disposable nappy liners, some nappy inserts, 2-3 wrappers of each size, and probably about 5 of the nappies had been used. The seller just didn’t get on with then and sold them. I was really pleased! Woohoo, I was already recycling.

We made the decision that we would use disposables for Little Miss for the first 6 weeks. However, after 2 explosive nappies, that leaked everywhere when she was just 5 days old, we swapped to the washables. She used washable nappies till she was totally dry- day and night- at 24 months old. We never had to change her clothes again because of leaky nappy!

With Little Man we used the washable nappies till he was just over 2 years old. That was when we moved into a caravan while undertaking a full house refurbishment. It was winter, cold and damp, so I decided, in order to preserve my sanity, I would move to disposables.

It’s a pity, because I think it has taken longer to potty train him because of the move away from washable nappies: In disposable nappies the children just do not have any sensation for wetting themselves, the nappies are almost too efficient at keeping the children dry. Washable nappies will also make for a more conscious parent: You know your child is wet and you will not leave them in the wet nappy/ dirty nappy for any longer than absolutely needed. Your child in washables will never be the child with so much in the nappy that it hangs down to his knees. (Yes, I have seen this too often by ignorant parents!)

I have got on very well with the Motherease washable nappies- they are a single size with poppers that you can use from newborn till they are out of nappies. The other ones, were also very good as they had a fleece lining, which whipped away the damp from the skin more and came in 3 different sizes. However, I kept on loosing the Nappi nippas (those little rubber spiders that hook into the nappy to hold it in place.), so that wasn’t very good.

Find out more about the practicalities I learnt on using washable nappies on pg 2 >>> GO

I found the Go Real website has some very useful resources.

Also check out the post by the friend on Dummy Mummy that prompted my own blog post- It has great comments!

Which nappies- washable or disposable- did you choose and why?



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  1. I used biodegradable disposables with my son. I ordered them online and they didn’t cost more than ‘normal’ disposables. With my daughter I am using washable nappies and I love them. I tried them with my son but he hated them. I’m so pleased I can use them with my daughter.
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  2. Tara says:

    I’ve used Bumgenius washables for my son (and loved them!), but from an early age I put him in disposables overnight. He seemed to wake-up a lot more when he was wet with the washables. I agree that using the washables probably helps with potty training – my son was dry in the day at 19 months, whilst at 24 months+ a lot of his friends are still not. Perhaps I should put him back into the washables to try to get him dry through the night…

  3. Washables all the way. Well apart from the first 3 weeks with DS1 & 4 days with DS2. Both ended up with horrendous nappy rash after they were born but as soon as we switched it disappeared.

    We started out with TotsBots nappies and wraps. We had a few problems with leaks and wicking but there’s some great advice out there on the internet and after many recommendations switched to motherease wraps. Never had a problem since.
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  4. Steph says:

    I used washables for a while with my daughter, but with no means to dry them in our old flat when it wasn’t sunny, I soon switched back to disposables. With my son, I’ve used washables since he was tiny. I have some bumGenius, a tots bots, a fuzzibunz and some unbranded Chinese ones from eBay that I LOVE. They are very absorbent and only cost about £3/nappy. Plus they are poppers instead of Velcro which works better for us.

    I find that If I stuff a bumGenius booster in one of my Chinese nappies then my son is fine overnight. I love washable nappies, I don’t think I’ll go back to sposies again.
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