Action 047: Switch to using cloth nappies

Baby in cloth nappyDate: 16 February
Action: 047
Cost of taking action: £/$/€ VARIES, LOW


From our guest writer Ann from Malta and England

Action 047: Switch to cloth nappies!

When I mention to people that I use cloth nappies, or recommend them, I am often met with looks of incredulity, coupled with some variation of “Why would I do that?”, “Sounds like a lot of work…” and “What about the poo?!”

But I’m here to tell you that actually, there are many benefits to using cloth, it’s not much more work than using disposables, and while yes, you do need to deal with poo a little more than you would with disposables (I mean, who would have told me I’d have something in my bathroom called a poo knife…) you actually get used to it quite quickly.

The truth is, the benefits far outweigh the slight inconvenience of facing a little more poo.

The facts

Disposable nappies account for 2-3% of the UKs entire household waste.

Around 8 million disposable nappies are sent to the landfill every day – that’s nearly 2.5 billion a year in the UK alone.

It is estimated that it will take up to 500 years for a disposable nappy to decompose. Think about that for a second. That means that the first ever disposable nappy produced is still out there, and still a long while away from breaking down.

The myths

MYTH: Using cloth nappies has a greater environmental impact than using disposables.

Admittedly, a lot more water, electricity and cleaning products are used in a household that uses cloth nappies. The truth is though, that a lot of water, electricity and chemicals are used in the production of disposables, too, and as a consumer, you have no say in how much is used.

MYTH: Cloth nappies stink!

Interestingly, they really don’t! The few times we have had to use disposables for whatever reason, I couldn’t wait to get back to cloth, mainly because disposables stink so much more! With cloth, on the other hand, I sometimes don’t realise right away that my little one has pooed!

They also don’t stink so much when stored. If they are kept in an adequate container with enough air flow, they really aren’t bad. A bin full of dirty disposables smells so much worse!

MYTH: I will have to touch poo!

You don’t HAVE to … you can, if you wish, but you can also use (truly biodegradable) liners which will catch all the poo and can go straight into the bin. You can then use your trusty poo knife to plop any poo that has escaped the liner right into the toilet.

Other advantages

In case the environmental impact isn’t enough to convince you to make the switch, there are other advantages to using cloth nappies too. Here are a few:

1. You are placing natural fibres against your baby’s skin. Some cheaper brands do use polyesters, but these are not recommended.

2. Cloth nappies help with hip alignment in babies. Cloth nappies are bulkier than disposables, and therefore keep a newborn’s hips slightly wider apart, this is actually ideal for their hip development. More information about this can be found at

3. While they do require an initial investment, in the long term using cloth nappies will save you money. The savings multiply if you have subsequent babies, as the nappies can be reused for years and years. They also have excellent resale value, being sold at up to 80% of their retail price. You can calculate how much you will save by switching to cloth at this link:

4. They’re incredibly cute! I mean, who wouldn’t want all these beautiful prints on their baby’s bum!

Baby in cloth nappy Baby in cloth nappy cloth nappies

Further reading

You can find more info about the advantages of switching to cloth at

This article has been contributed by
Ann Buhagiar