Cloth 101


Inserts are the absorbent core of the washable nappy. They are responsible for absorbing as much of the urine as possible before changing.

Available in different fibres:

Different Fibres


Fleece vs Disposable

Let’s talk about liners.

Liner are supposed to do two things:

  1. Making waste disposal a lot easier while reducing staining
  2. Keep baby’s bum a bit drier

They also make pretty handy wipes on the compactum and in the nappy bag.

There are two types of liners available.

Disposable Liners

These are available in a roll containing 100 perforated sheets of bamboo viscose. They are easy to use and handy to have. Our disposable liners are biodegradable and compostable. Wet only liners can be added to a compost heap and your paper recycling.

With regards to flushing we advise caution. Liners are not the same as toilet paper, they breakdown slower and can cause issues with your sewerage system. It is vitally important that you know your toilet system before you choose to flush liners.

Fleece Liners

Our fleece liners are made from coral fleece. This quality polyester synthetic fabric is the perfect stay dry fabric for a nappy liner. As it is a non-absorbent fabric these liners are super-fast drying and easy to clean. Even the messiest changes can be cleaned with the power of a toilet flush and a firm grip on the end of the liner. If baby is particularly sensitive to wet then these are a great option. Fleece liners are also a great way to save money.

We thought that the below tale was the perfect way to educate you about the wonders of fleece liner:

“Let me tell you a bit about the event which converted me to fleece liners, having always been pretty sceptical when others raved about them: I flew to Orkney with my first son, and he did not do his usual morning poo before we left (normally as regular as clockwork), so we had it hanging over us like the Sword of Damocles all morning.  At Gatwick, I changed him again, in case he had sneakily done it en route – no poo.  By the time we got to Aberdeen, he finally decided to perform, at which point I realised I had used my only spare nappy and the rest were on the plane.  The nappy itself had plenty more capacity for wee – the only problem was the dirty liner.  However, luckily I had put on a fleece liner rather than a flushable one. I say ‘luckily’ because fleece was large enough to cover the whole nappy so none had got onto the nappy itself, as he was weaned it caught all the solids and I was able to sluice it in the toilet to remove the poo, then I could wash it in the sink and then quickly dried it in the hand dryer.  The fleece liner went back into the nappy and we were on our way again.  I would normally change the whole nappy after a poo but in this case we reused the nappy and were good to go.”

We would like to thank the Wendy Richards and her team at The Nappy Lady for the above excerpt:

Why no softener?

Fabric softener is designed to “soften” fabrics. This is achieved by coating the fibre with lanolin or a similar compound. Unfortunately, if you coat the natural fibres of your cloth nappies they will lose their absorbing quality. Nappies that have been washed with a softener will most likely return to normal after being stripped in a normal wash cycle without detergent.

Can I use bum cream?

We do not recommend the use of commercial bum creams as they contain petroleum and zinc. These will ultimately damage the natural fibres and clog your nappies. You can use these creams with liners however we recommend caution as the damage can be irreparable in extreme cases.

Generally speaking bum cream is not necessary with cloth nappies however if you feel that you need to use one then try find a product that is local and organic like our handmade bum balm.

Can I use baby powder?

As with bum cream the problem with most commercial baby powders us that they will clog up your nappy. If you feel that baby powder is something that you need to use they remember to source a product that is local and organic as well as ensure the use of liners.

Hard Water

What is Hard Water? Hard water is caused by compounds of calcium and magnesium.  The greater the concentration of these minerals, the harder the water.

Why is it a problem? When detergent is added to hard water it combines with the calcium and magnesium rather than the fabric. This means it is rinsed away without cleaning the nappy while the minerals in the water clog the fabric trapping the dirt and ammonia.

What can be done? The problem with hard water can be countered with some of the following precautions:

If possible, wash on a warm setting. This will help the powder detergent dissolve and increase its cleaning ability. Most powder detergents have built in water softeners.

If you can only use cold water, use a liquid detergent as they will dissolve easier in the hard water.

Increase the recommended dosage by about 30% to improve cleaning results.

Do not add vinegar or an extra rinse cycle.

Stick to natural fibres as synthetic fibres will be more prone to hold smells.

Fabric softeners will not “soften” water! They are designed to condition fabrics and will not improve your hard water washing.

Borax and Washing Soda will damage your nappies over time.

It is important to note that most modern laundry detergent will combat hard water so it is worth doing some research and finding one that works best for you and your wash routine rather than trying possibly damaging solutions.

Choosing the right nappy

Cloth nappies are mistakenly perceived as wet, unhygienic and leaky overnight. The great news is that fabric technology has evolved and all modern cloth nappies can now have a stay dry fleece liner that keeps baby’s bum dry. Regarding nappy rash, if baby is dry and in a chemical free fabric then rashes will be greatly diminished. You will still need to ensure baby is changed often enough and nappies are thoroughly washed.

When using washable nappies overnight, all you need is more absorbency. As the absorbency of modern nappies can be adjusted it is easy to add more by using a booster or trifold.

It is helpful to consider the following details when selecting the correct nappy:

  • Baby’s age and build
  • Baby’s toilet habits e.g. heavy wetter or long sleeper
  • How often do you want to wash your nappies
  • Overall cost
  • Attractiveness of the nappy.

In summary, the different nappies are:

Pocket Nappy – A PUL outer (waterproof) with a stay dry inner (suede cloth) made into a pocket which you can stuff the inserts (to add in the absorbency)

Fitted Nappy – The entire nappy is made of bamboo and cotton which is ultra-absorbent and comes with 2 inserts. Nappy is not waterproof and requires a cover.

Cover – PUL outer (waterproof) to fit over a Fitted nappy.

AIO – “All in One”, this nappy has a waterproof PUL outer and the absorbency inserts sewn in

Sleeve – “All in Two” – a nappy which resembles an All-In-One, except the absorbency can be detached for easier and faster drying.

OSFA – “One Size Fits All” – fits from 5 to 17kgs.

In addition to that you take into account what they are made off, drying time and how much they cost:

Cotton: most affordable option, reasonably absorbent, reasonably quick drying

Bamboo: most expensive option, very absorbent, slow to dry

Bamboo Fleece: ultra-absorbent

Microfiber: absorbs very quickly, affordable, quick to dry but prone to compression leaks

Suede Cloth: used for a stay-dry feel

We do recommend trying more than one type of nappy to start with. As all our nappies are cut slightly different and have different absorption rates you might not know which nappy works best for you and your baby. Please visit our Nappy Kit section for discounted variety packs.

Still can’t decide? Then send us a message and we will be happy to talk to you about your options.

Adjusting the size

One-size-fits-all (OSFA) Nappies have 4 rows of clips on the front of the nappy called Rise Snaps. These four rows of rise snaps give you 4 sizes, small, medium, large and extra-large. Close the rise snaps in the front of the nappy to where you think it will fit your child, small babies will have all the rise snaps closed. OSFA nappies generally fit babies between 5 – 17kgs.

Once the nappy is on the child check to see it is the correct setting and change if necessary. Make sure the nappy is firm (but not tight) around the legs. The nappy may fit around the waist, but you may get gaping around the legs, this can be an indication your baby is still a little small for the current size setting. Check every few months to see if the nappy is still on the correct setting and adjust accordingly.

Why choose cloth nappies

Health Benefits

Cloth Nappies do not contain the chemicals and perfumes that disposable nappies do. Natural fibres such as cotton and bamboo allow your babys skin to breathe. Nappy rash can be reduced greatly by using cloth nappies as they allow the skin to breathe and therefore helping reduce nappy rash. With disposable nappies, it is often hard to tell how wet the nappy is, often resulting in the nappy being left on the baby for long periods of time, thus resulting in nappy rash. When using cloth nappies you need to ensure baby is changed often enough and the nappies are washed thoroughly.

Cloth is More Comfortable

Have you ever noticed how the very clever marketing departments for the disposable nappy companies like to compare the feel of their products to cotton? Maybe because cotton is the softest most comfortable thing you can put on your baby’s bottom? Their skin is very thin and sensitive and that super absorbent gel they use in disposables, whilst very efficient at pulling away the urine, also pulls away the skin protecting moisture along with it. Don’t be fooled, just because the baby feels dry does not mean they are clean and those disposable scented, soapy wipes they are selling you are only going to dry out your baby’s bottom more and leave them more likely to develop a painful diaper rash.

Cloth Saves You Money

If you decide to go the disposable route you are likely to spend somewhere around R20000 on disposable nappies and another R4000 on disposable wipes. Our cloth diapering system will save you approximately R15000 on nappies and will save you an additional R3500 on disposable wipes.

Maybe using cloth isn’t as easy as throwing away disposables but they are not that much more work. You will never have to run to the store in the middle of the night because you ran out of diapers and you will have a lot less trash to take out as those used disposables pile up quicker than you think. You won’t have to bring home a huge pack of nappies with your groceries all the time. Cloth is a lot easier today than it was in your grandmother or great grandmother’s day. Our grandmothers would have considered shaped diapers with no need for pins a breeze. Not to mention we have washing machines, which make it so much easier than having to wash them by hand as they used to.

Here is a calculation showing how much disposable nappies cost:

Small – R2.43 each*
Medium – R2.67 each*
Large – R3.86 each*
Extra Large – R4.52 each*

*Cost on average from cheapest to most expensive brands available, March 2017 from Pick ‘n Pay Online –

How many changes needed?
0-3 months 12-15 times a day
3-6 months 10-12 times a day
6-12 months 8-10 times a day
12 months+ 6-8 times a day

How much does this cost?
0-3 months = (3 x 30 days) x (R2.43 x 13 changes a day) = R2 843.10
3-6 months = (3 x 30 days) x (R2.67 x 11 changes a day) = R2 643.30
6-12 months = (6 x 30 days) x (R3.86 x 9 changes a day) =R6 253.20
1-2 years = (365 days) x (R4.52 x 7 changes a day) = R11 548.60
Total for first two years = R23 288.20 per child
Many children only potty train at 3 years old when using disposable nappies, and many still wear night time nappies at age

These figures were based on 2017 figures.

Cloth Nappies help early potty training

Today only about 4% of children are trained by age two and approximately 12% are still in diapers between three and a half to four years. The billion dollar multinational disposable diaper corporations have done a very good job of making their diapers so absorbent that children don’t even know when they urinate and make them so dry and cushy when full of urine that there isn’t much reason for the child to want out of those nappies. They have also done a very good job at making the parents believe potty training at a younger age is not possible and now there is the launch of a size six diaper plan to keep your kids wearing their diapers even longer. In 1957 92% of children were potty trained by 18 months of age.

Environmental Impact

When assessing the environmental impact of cloth versus disposable nappies, it is important to look at the whole life cycle of the nappy. This includes raw materials, manufacturing, transportation and waste effects. Studies have reported it takes as much energy to product one disposable as it does to wash a cloth nappy 200 times.

Every day millions of disposable diapers are discarded. Each baby diapered in disposables will contribute approximately 2 tones to our landfills. It is unknown how long they will take to decompose but is estimated to be between 250 – 500 years.

Healthier for baby

Cloth Nappies don’t contain any harsh chemicals unlike disposable nappies.

Lots of babies have allergies towards the chemicals in disposables which leads to nappy rashes. Doctors often prescribe cortisone and other harsh creams for these rashes leading to further problems.

How many nappies will I need

To get an idea of how many nappies you may need, consider how many times a day do you change your baby’s nappy, and how often you want to wash? To give you an idea, it is recommended that a Newborn needs changing every 2 to 3 hours, that’s between 10-12 times a day. An older baby will need changing up to 6 times a day. You will need to wash the nappies every 2 to 3 days. Based on this, you may need around 24 nappies for a Newborn and 18 to 20 nappies for infants and toddlers.

For this very reason we offer discounted packs of 10s and 20s in our Bulk Pack section.

Washing cloth nappies

Pre-washing your nappies
When you first bring your order home, pre-wash the nappies before use. Please remember that inserts that contain Bamboo only reach full absorbency after about 8-10 washes but may be worn after the first wash. Before they have been washed 8-10 times, they may not hold as much liquid so be patient.

Washing your nappies
Un-snap all the inserts from the shell before placing in an empty dry bucket. Do not soak as this will damage the Bamboo fibre. The nappies can be kept in a dry bucket for up to 3 days. Any longer and the ammonia in urine will destroy the Bamboo fibre resulting in holes. Place a full load of nappies in the washing machine, set your machine on the longest cycle and add any detergent. Never use softener and watch out for detergent with ‘built in’ softener. If you do use softener on your nappies this will result in poor absorbency. If you don’t have a full load of nappies to wash, add a towel to increase agitation.
Preferably dry on the line but if tumble drying is necessary, only tumble the inserts on low heat. You cannot tumble dry the waterproof shell, this will result in delamination.

A green bar of Sunlight Soap is one of the most affordable and effective stain removers.
Scrubbing nappy lightly before putting it into the washing works wonders.
To avoid staining and build up on the nappy it is best to use a nappy liner and to try avoid zinc based creams as these contain metals and will cause the inside of the nappy to blacken.
Sunlight is also great for removing stains so dry your nappies outside on the line as often as possible.
Please do not use bleach or other harsh detergents as these will damage your nappies.

Bum Cream
Always use Cloth Safe bum cream.
Make sure to use a liner if you do have to use bum cream.