Important: Recycling sites network open on winter hours

Nappies and reusable nappies

Reusable nappies are also known as ‘cloth’, ‘real’ or ‘washable’ nappies, and using these instead of costly, wasteful single-use plastic nappies will save money in the long term, reduce waste, and help your environment.

Modern cloth nappies come in a range of shapes, sizes and colours designed to suit your baby and your pocket. They incorporate many of the convenient design features that you expect from a disposable, like a fitted shape, and by using poppers and Velcro fastenings they are easy to put on and take off.

Modern cloth nappies are easy to wash and can be used with a natural biodegradable liner which catches the solid waste. Nappies can be washed between 40 degrees C and 60 degrees C (depending on soiling) and either line or tumble dried.

Although there is a high initial outlay for cloth nappies, you can save up to £500, compared to market leading disposable nappies. You can make more savings by reusing nappies for subsequent children or by selling them. The cost of home laundering nappies is about £1 a week.  You can make further savings by using fleece liners, rather than flushable liners – up to £75. or making your own wipes from material can save a further £250.

Modern cloth nappies are made from natural materials like cotton, bamboo and hemp and from man-made fabrics like fleece. They do not contain chemical gels and are available in a wide range of styles.

The main styles are:

  • Flat nappies – including flat terry towelling and pre-fold nappies. They require folding and often fasten with a nappi nippa or safety pin, and can be the quickest to dry
  • Shaped nappies – these do not require folding and are shaped like a disposable nappy. They fasten with poppers or Velcro
  • Sized nappies – these come in different sizes and as your child grows you will need to buy the next size
  • One size nappies – these come in only one size and will fit from birth until your child is potty-trained. The size of the nappy can be changed by using a variety of poppers and or Velcro.

Some nappy styles incorporate a waterproof outer (known as an ‘all in one’) while some have a separate waterproof outer known as a wrap. The waterproof outer contains the moisture within the nappy and protects your child’s clothing.

The UK dumps around three billion disposable nappies a year, weighing 670,000 tonnes. A typical baby will require about 4,000 nappy changes, and on average in Somerset we estimate that a child under two using disposable nappies generates around 340kg per year of nappy waste. If you use disposable nappies, these will go to landfill where they can take up to 300 years to breakdown, or you can reuse approximately 24 cloth nappies between birth and potty training.

Washable cloth nappies can save up to 40% carbon emissions compared to disposables. This carbon saving is greatest when cloth nappies are washed in full loads at no more than 60 degrees C, line dried and reused for a second child.

Carry Me Kate Parenting Services CIC

We are a community interest company offering parents access to different services, including a cloth nappy hire and advice service, sling hire and feeding support, with meetings across Somerset. Contact us to find out more about how to access our cloth nappy hire service:; 07583 829880; Carry Me Kate on Facebook.


If you live in the Frome area you can loan reusable nappy packs from SHARE.

Phone 07983639611 (opening hours only)
Address: 3A The Bridge, Frome, BA11 1AR


The Nappy Lady is another informative website providing advice and support about all things washable nappy related.
Phone 0845 652 6532


There are several Facebook groups, internet parenting forums and cloth nappy retail sites which provide advice and guidance on different reusable nappy designs and styles.

Visit the Somerset Choices website to find information about local services to help children, young people and their families.

Somerset Waste Partnership policy:

Supporting residents with children in nappies or those using incontinence products   

Somerset Waste Partnership is committed to working with residents to improve recycling rates and reduce waste. We understand that everyone’s circumstances will be different and that this may be a challenge for some. This is particularly important with the introduction of the expanded recycling service, Recycle More – as well as collecting more recycling from the kerbside every week, rubbish will be collected every three weeks instead of every two weeks (

Requests for extra space may be for a variety of reasons, for example a household where someone has a medical need that generates substantial waste (such as adult hygiene products), or large families or families with children in nappies.

Extra space for rubbish will only be authorised for households making full use of the weekly recycling and food waste collections. Additional recycling and food containers can be requested, free of charge through the SWP website or by contacting district council customer service teams.

Extra space for rubbish will only be provided if it is essential. The extra space may be in the form of an additional bin (if the need is long-term, for example because it is linked to a health condition) or stickers for rubbish sacks (if the need is temporary, for example because it is linked to a children in nappies).

Requests for extra space for rubbish are assessed on a case-by-case basis. At any stage SWP may arrange a visit from a Waste Management Officer to confirm a household’s needs and to make sure rubbish and recycling are being appropriately managed.

The steps in our process for support are as follows:

  1. Check household has enough capacity for the number of permanent residents.

When assessing capacity, we will take account of the number of adults in the house, the number of children, and whether any of the children are in nappies (acknowledging the extra waste generated by children in nappies).

If residents have concerns about being able to manage – provided the standard capacity is sufficient for the number of residents, they will be asked to give it a try first and contact us again if there are issues after they have been through one full collection cycle.

This policy applies to children in nappies who are expected to potty train between 2 and 4 years old. If a child or adult has long-term health issues, or the waste is due to the use of continence products, then permanent additional capacity in the form of extra bin space can be provided. Otherwise stickers will be provided for a fixed period of time. If stickers are provided, we advise that nappies are double-bagged and put in the rubbish bin (to reduce any odour issues) and the extra rubbish bags are used for other forms of waste.


  1. After the first full collection cycle, if a resident feels they cannot manage with the standard capacity, they can request a visit from a Waste Management Officer to determine what additional capacity is required.


  1. If a resident continues to struggle with managing their waste, they can contact us again and a Waste Management Officer will arrange a visit to conduct a waste review. This will look at:
  • What waste is in the bin
  • Ensure that the household is recycling everything they can at the kerbside
  • The Officer will be able to approve a larger bin/additional stickers if required.
  1. If following steps 1-3, the resident continues to struggle, the Officer will visit again and consider offering an additional collection solely for the nappies/hygiene waste – the household can be added on to the clinical waste collection service. This will only be considered in exceptional circumstances. If this happens, the household will revert to the standard capacity for that household size.

Reusable products

As well as ensuring residents can manage their nappy waste, we would like to make it easier for them to be able to try and switch to using reusable nappies, reducing waste and saving money.  To do this, we are working with three local nappy libraries to extend their reach and ensure that everyone in Somerset who wishes to try using cloth nappies will be able to do so at low cost.  We are also working with Wessex Water and the nappy groups to provide reusable baby wipe kits for hire.

The groups will be there to provide expert advice and support and to help residents make the switch. Some also provide advice on reusable sanitary products.

September, 2020