The Humble Return of The Cloth Nappy

Author: Annie F&F   Date Posted:7 November 2018 

The rise and return of the cloth nappy. Discover why many new parents are choosing to ditch single-use plastic nappies and how the modern cloth nappy can greatly benefit your bub, your pocket and the environment.

When we think about reducing our single-use plastic dependency, there are some switches that are a simple, straight forward swap (read: metal straws) and then there are others that linger in the “that’s going too far” territory - like cloth nappies right?!

For most, when the suggestion of using a cloth nappy first enters a conversation, memories of parents/and or grandparents boiling, soaking, washing, bleaching, drying, folding, pinning generally spring to mind. Next comes the wide-eyed, bewildered head shake “no” and a strong affirmation that the ancient cloth nappy should remain an impossible task and that it is irrelevant in our modern day. But when we’re faced with confronting facts and stats (almost 800 million disposable nappies end up in Australian landfills annually) alongside our communities increasing eco-consciousness, more and more parents and guardians are choosing to refuse single-use plastic in all its forms, including their bubs nappies.

Thanks to the rise and cleverness of many new eco baby brands, cloth nappies of 2018 now go well beyond the terry cloth squares. While these traditional cloth nappies are still widely available (and cost effective, we love our Nature's Child Reusable Cloth Nappies), modern cloth nappies, often referred to as MCNs, have grown extensively in popularity due to their ease of use, reduced cost, environmental impact and well, because they are also ridiculously cute as our latest brand launch EcoNaps demonstrates. Like all lifestyle changes, new routines and adaptations require time and practice to become second-nature for you and your family. There are countless positive reviews and wonderful support groups online championing the return of the cloth nappy, or MCN, with most pledging that they’ve never looked back. There are however, many others who have chosen to use both MCNs and disposable nappies depending on their lifestyle - it should never have to be one OR the other as no matter how you choose to incorporate MCN or cloth nappies into your bubs life, every small step towards reducing waste adds up and rest assured, makes a difference!




Image: EcoNaps


So where to start in the world of MCNs? As we’ve noted above, there is no denying it can be a daunting transition, so we’ve detailed some answers to some common questions when it comes to choosing and buying MCNs ,as well as information on how to wash and care for them.


So if it’s not a terry square cloth nappy, then what exactly are MCNs?

Modern cloth nappies are reusable nappies that are shaped just like a disposable nappy to fit snugly around your baby with usually press stud style snap fasteners. They are just as quick and easy to put on due to the elastic at the edge of the legs and back to keep messes contained. The cloth or type of fabric can vary and often comes down to personal preference, and what works best for your baby. Some parents prefer to choose a natural fibre, while others want a stay-dry option. EcoNaps have left this entirely up to you, by allowing you to choose what goes next to bubs skin - the bamboo inserts, or the stay-dry suede layer of the cover.


What are the benefits of using modern cloth nappies?

  • Despite some conflicting reports, MCNs/cloth nappies are better for the environment. (*The ANA has a great article on the debate of ‘disposable vs reusable’ and their effects on our environment).
  • While the upfront cost of buying MCNs can be pricey, in the long run they work out to be cheaper and can last until toilet training, used on future siblings, passed on to friends and/or sold second-hand.
  • They are made of fabrics that are soft, comfortable and breathable and all assist to eliminate moisture against the skin.
  • You’ll also never be left running to the shop when you’re out of disposable nappies (yes, yes but it does mean having the washing done…).


How many do you need?

This all depends on how you want to incorporate your MCNs into your little ones routine and of course, how often you choose to wash. Keep in mind that newborns will require more frequent changes and a toddler a little less. If you’re easing into the transition from disposables to MCNs, you might purchase 2 or 3 to start then add to your collection as you go. 

Image:  EcoNaps

What size and styles of modern cloth nappies will be most suitable?

EcoNaps have a unique design that makes their cloth nappies convertible! It allows you to tailor every aspect from the absorption and nappy style, down to the type of fabric that sits against the skin. EcoNaps come with a water resistant outer shell (in the cutest colours and prints) and an insert set with up to 5 different absorption settings. Their OSFM (one size fits most) design will fit from newborn up until a toilet training toddler ~ approx. 3.5kg to 16kg. Their two most popular styles are the a) All-in-2 nappy, with snap-in style inserts, for a simple to use, easy to wash and quick to fold nappy option, or b) a Pocket Style nappy which is great for wriggly, busy toddlers, boosting at night times, and keeping things simple for daycare and Grandparents! You can decide which style is your preference once you have your nappy as they are all convertible. 



Here’s the fun question - How do you clean and wash MCNs?

EcoNaps recommend dry-pailing when it comes to dirty nappies. This means that you do not need to soak the nappies, rather remove any solids in to the toilet and store in the bucket until wash day. Every set of EcoNaps comes with handy care instructions which detail the best method to care for your baby’s nappies. Here are some of their general tips for washing your MCNs:

  • For #1’s - Place in a dry pail.
  • Newborn #2’s (Breastfed or Bottle fed) - Saturate with cold water under the tap, and place in a dry pail.
  • Solid #2’s - Tip Solids into the toilet. Saturate with cold water under the tap, and place in a dry pail.
  • Night Nappies - Saturate with cold water under the tap, and place in a dry pail.



Wash your dirty nappies every 1-2 days. Leaving them any longer will encourage the growth of bacteria and mould.

Step 1: Begin by washing nappies and inserts on a warm pre-rinse cycle. This gets rid of any excess urine or soiling before the wash cycle.

Step 2: Follow with a warm, regular/long wash cycle, no hotter than 60 degrees. Wash with the correct amount of detergent recommended by your detergent manufacturer for the water level / load size.

A note about detergent - EcoNaps recommend using a natural detergent with your nappies. For guidance, your detergent of choice should not contain bleach, fabric softeners, whiteners or vinegar pre-rinse, particularly when used on soiled nappies. These chemicals can lead to nappy rash on your baby, and lessen the lifespan of your nappies.



Line dried is the preferred and recommended style of drying your MCNs. If no outdoor area for drying is available, hang indoors on a drying rack, near a window exposed to sunlight. UV rays from sunlight (not sunshine) will remove stains naturally, so there are no nasty chemicals required. If you choose to use a clothes dryer, then separate the nappy covers from inserts.

Dry the nappy covers on low, as excessive hot temperatures can cause the PUL to delaminate. Cloth nappy inserts will take a little longer to dry, as this is the absorbent part of the nappy. They are not quite as delicate as the nappy covers, so you can tumble dry these on medium heat.


So you’ve got your MCN, what else might you need?

There are many wonderful accessories that can make your MCN experience a little easier. The below are helpful additions that aim to provide that extra bit of support when making the switch to cloth:

  • A nappy bucket & liner - for those with curious toddlers or pets, choose a bucket with a close-fitting lid so that there are no other unfortunate messes. Some users highly recommend bin liners or even a pillowcase to line the bin which can also be easily washed and replaced with your nappies.
  • A wet bag - perfect for when you’re on the go and in need of storing your dirty nappy.
  • A travel change mat - perfect for when you are out and about.

You can view the entire range of EcoNaps and accessories online now.


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