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How much work are cloth nappies really?

Added on 17 July 2014 in General Info & Advice, Washing & care of cloth nappies

When thinking about choosing cloth nappies, a big consideration is how much extra time and effort they will take than disposables. You can come across a lot of negative comments (usually from people who don't use cloth) that give the impression that using reusable nappies involves being chained to your washing machine, spending hours up to your elbows in poo, drowning in a never ending cycle of wet nappies.

Washing Nappies Isn't that Hard 

We asked some ordinary, busy mums - who actually use cloth nappies every day - how they respond when asked how much extra work cloth nappies REALLY involve compared to disposables.

Lisa: A load of washing every 2nd or 3rd day, 5 minutes to hang it all out on the line. 15 minutes every 3rd night to snap them all back together (which means I am 'forced' to actually sit down and watch TV so it's actually quite wonderful!!). And 10 seconds after a pooey nappy to tip it down the toilet and rinse it off. No big deal at all considering the amount of money I've saved!!

Kristin: Almost none. Takes the same time to take a cloth to the bucket as it does to take a sposie to the bin. Then a load every other day is maybe 5 min. Then 5 min to hang and 2 to bring in, 5 to put away. 8.5 minutes a day for cute and enviroconscious and cheaper!

Loz: Less work than a trip to the shops with 3 under 3 including newborn twins!

Kelly K: Depends on the sizes of your stash - if there are enough to dry over a couple of days plus have a couple of days worth ready to go the pressure is off. I had a small amount to start with not sure if I could stick with it and found it hard to have some dried and ready to use. I have a larger amount now and it's not hard to keep up so it feels easier

Jo: The poo disposal thing is about the only part that takes a bit more time (& is a bit yuckier - esp with older toddler who has sticky, messy ones that don't just 'plop' nicely into the loo with the liner!). The above post about not having quite enough nappies in your stash is also very valid...I've ended up doing half loads due to running short. Still, at least it's an excuse to buy more lovely colours/patterns!

Sarah: A couple of extra loads of washing per week. No stinky overflowing bin, just a drying rack of fresh smelling nappies and cute covers. No lugging massive boxes home from the supermarket. Never running out of wipes because there are always some clean ones on the rack.

Kelly: Using cloth full time, I washed every two days. Unintentionally I once timed myself how long it took hand rinse and put a load on (it was between 2 Facebook comments!) - 7 mins was all it took of my time to wash them. Hanging them out and putting them away about the same... so about 15mins of 'extra work' every 2nd day.
Granted at first it took closer to 30mins everyday, but once i got my groove on the time dramatically reduced.
So long as one doesn't run out of single-use nappies, has a BIG bin that only needs to be emptied weekly (and doesn't mind week-old poo odour)... then, yeah... disposables are easier.

Hayley: Not much, I already have a truckload of washing to do, what's a few more loads a week? And I snap and stuff while watching TV.

Britt: There wasn't really any extra work. I was still changing a nappy each time and using 'wipes' of some description for the mess. Washing and drying was no different to the general laundry I had & I didn't notice an increase and because I mostly used AIO putting them away was easy.

Patricia: I find for me, the main 'time' issue I have with cloth nappies is they are so damn cute, I waste a lot of time looking at different brands, colours, styles...etc online.

Ruth: Not much, and you don't have stinky poo nappies stinking out your home/bin like with disposables! Go cloth!!!

Jessica: I love the stuffing/snapping! Quite meditative. So I'm not sure I would include that as extra "work".

Victor: We have 3 under 3 and our nappy laundry equates to one full load every morning.

Amanda: I started them with my first baby so I don't really know any different. All it is is a few extra loads of washing a week. No difference in the actual changing of the nappy.

Terri: How much extra work does the Earth have to do with the tonnes of disposable waste? Cloth pales in comparison.

Fran: I'd rather throw them in the wash then have to throw disposables in the bin then take the bin outside so they can muster up a lovely smell.

Andrea: A small amount extra work. 3 loads of washing a week and some stuffing/snapping.

Jessie: Very little. Once you are in a routine they are very easy to wash and put together

Ellen: Two loads of washing a week, a few minutes more folding.. but all worth it

Kat: It's just one extra load of washing every couple of days, and 3 minutes to fold my AIO's after they're dry. It makes a big difference to have a husband who is supportive of your choice because we sit on the couch after the bub has gone to bed and fold the liners whilst watching TV.
My sister in law takes my son one day a week and just send them home with them in plastic bags like you would with disposables nappies.

Nyssa: An extra was every few days, some line time and a little time snapping and putting in a liner. We use all in ones mostly so I don't even bother pulling them apart

Nia: Very little, particularly once you're used to them.


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