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, for advice and support contact Frome Happy Nappy Library through the Frome Share Shop.

Phone 07983639611 (opening hours only)


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.