How many reusable nappies do I need?

Updated: Nov 16, 2021

You'll need between 15-30 to use reusable nappies full time. But this does depend on a few factors such as babies age (a new born baby will have a lot of dirty nappies in comparison to an older baby), reusable nappy type used (e.g. flat nappies, fitted nappies, pocket nappy etc) and drying capabilities. In the guide we will run through these factors to give you a comprehensive overview of how many washable nappies you will need.


Can I use reusable nappies part time?

How many reusable nappies do I need?

So put simply - yes. If you're new to modern cloth nappies and you're a bit unsure, just start with a few, or even just one! As a rough guide, if you use 2-3 reusable nappies per day, it would be a good idea to have around 8 in total. This will allow you to use the 2-3 for a couple of days, wash them and have a few spare while they are dry ready to be used again. If you are using fitted nappies, they will take much longer to dry than a flat nappy or pocket nappy, in which case you would need a few more.







How many reusable nappies do I need to use them full time?


This is where it becomes less clear cut - and that's fine. It is a different number for everyone. I would always advise just building your stash up slowly and seeing how many it is that works for you. But as a general good guess, around 20 reusable cloth nappies is what you need to use them full time (a newborn baby needs a lot more).


The graphic here is assuming full time use, and washing every 2-3 days - but as we have said above, you can absolutely use washable nappies part time too.

How many reusable nappies do I need? 30 for newborns, 20 for toddlers.
How many reusable nappies do I need?

Babies under 2 months require changing very frequently - every couple of hours, and at each feed over night. This means you need around 30 reusable nappies for your newborn.


As baby gets a bit older, this number will come down. They only require changing every 3ish hours, and only when they have pooed overnight. So around 20 reusable nappies will be enough. And then again, for an older baby gets to 6 months plus, they only need changing every 3-4 hours and don't require changing overnight unless they have pooed, so the number comes down to around 15 reusable nappies.


Cloth nappy type will determine how many you need as well. As previously mentioned, some cloth nappy types take longer to dry e.g. fitted nappies and shaped nappies. Where as flat nappies, or a pocket nappy will dry much faster.

How often do I need to wash reusable nappies?


We advise washing your reusable nappies every 2-3 days. Any longer than this and it can start to cause some issues. If you find yourself often washing at the 3 day point, you may need a few more nappies than the numbers outlined above.



How quickly do reusable nappies dry?


Depending on what type of reusable nappy you use, drying time will vary. Flat nappies such as terry squares and cotton flats can often be dry within a few hours during summer months. Pocket nappy shells also dry very quickly with the inserts varying in time. As a rough guide, most inserts are dry within 24 hours. The good thing about pocket nappies is you can have spare inserts so you can use those while others are still drying. All in one style nappies can often take 48 hours to dry as all the absorbent layers are densely packed.







How do I wash reusable nappies?


1) Remove poo - (pre-weaning you can skip this step!)

Whether you flick, scrape, spray, dip - however you chose to do it, all poo needs to be removed from the nappy before going in the machine. Using a disposable or fleece nappy liner can make things a little easier, but aren't essential. Also just to note, some disposable liners say 'flushable' - in reality, they just sit in the sewage system and don't always break down, so it is best to bin them!

2) Store - Store all dirty nappies in either a bin or large wet bag (top tip - line it with a mesh bag so you don't need to rehandle the nappies again). At this point you can remove the inserts from your pocket nappy (they don't always manage to wiggle out in the wash otherwise), and fasten up the laundry tabs on your velcro nappies. We would recommend that you don't store them any longer than 3 days before washing them.

3) The first wash - this is a 30-60 minute cycle to get the worst of the soiling off the nappies. There's no right or wrong way to do this. Some people do a cold rinse with no detergent, where others do a 60D short wash with half dose of detergent (more on amount of detergent later).

4) The main wash - this is a 2-3hr cycle (usually a cotton cycle) that will thoroughly clean your reusable nappies.


Make sure your drum is the equivalent of being full when dry/three quarters full when wet (if you don't have enough cloth nappies for this, add in baby clothes, muslin squares, an extra reusable wipe (or several!) or anything of a similar size - nothing bigger than a tea towel). It's important the machine is filled to this level to ensure that there is enough in there to rub against each other properly and therefore clean off the poo! Getting a decent sized load can be more tricky when you are using cloth nappies part time or approaching potty training. But it is important to make sure the load is full enough to wash properly.


Use a FULL DOSE of detergent (cloth nappies are the dirtiest thing you are likely to wash, so a full dose of detergent is needed. If you feel like they come out overly perfumed, or find there are A LOT of suds near the end of the cycle, then you could do an extra rinse at the end)


Detergent - Check the dosage guidelines on your detergent to make sure you use the correct amount for your drum size, water hardness and for heavy soiling! Regarding which detergent to use, powder generally performs best for nappy washing - bio or non bio is absolutely fine for our nappies (we find bio gives a great clean) however check individual manufactures guidelines below to see if they state non bio only, otherwise you can invalidate the warranty.


40D is generally sufficient for your main nappy wash, but until baby is over 3m or after vaccinations 60D is better (again, check individual manufacturers guidelines to be sure if your nappies can be washed at 60D - Dinky Dodo modern cloth nappies can be washed at 60D.


Avoid fabric conditioner. Avoid bleach.

If you do happen to accidentally put some fabric softener in with your wash, don't worry. All it does over time is reduce the absorbency of your reusable nappy. If you're concerned, just add a short rinse and spin to the end of your wash cycle.

5) Dry - where possible it is best to line dry your nappies outside, but this is the UK... so it's not always possible. Just try to get them in a place with good airflow but not in direct contact with a radiator (near a radiator is fine). Some nappies can be tumble dried on low but this should be avoided if you can. We advise against using a tumble drier on our own nappies as this will shorten their life span. If you absolutely need to, only tumble dry the inserts and make sure it is a very low temperature. Our warranty does not cover you if you use a tumble drier.

Other points:

- You may see advice saying to put your previous days nappies on a short cycle each morning, or to at least hand rinse your night nappies each morning. This isn't essential, particularly if you are washing your nappies every other day. If you only wash every 3rd day, you may want to do "the first wash" on day 2, and then repeat on day 3 followed by your main wash - but this is again personal choice.


How quickly do reusable nappies dry?


Depending on what type of reusable nappy you use, drying time will vary. Flat nappies such as terry squares and cotton flats can often be dry within a few hours during summer months. Pocket nappy shells also dry very quickly with the inserts varying in time. As a rough guide, most inserts are dry within 24 hours. The good thing about a pocket nappy is you can have spare inserts so you can use those while others are still drying. All in one style nappies can often take 48 hours to dry as all the absorbent layers are densely packed. Fitted nappies (most commonly used as a night nappy) will also take 48+ hours to dry.


The material the absorbency is made from makes a difference to drying time too. Hemp and bamboo takes much longer to dry than microfibre does. Just bare in mind that the speed of drying links to the overall absorbency too. The general rule is the quicker to dry, the less absorbency it has.


Each material also absorbs at a different rate. When it comes to wet nappies, you want a mix of materials. Newborn babies only wee a small amount at a time, where as an older baby will quite often let out a large volume of wee at once. So for an older baby you may find you need to have some cotton / organic cotton or microfibre in their nappy to absorb quickly, with bamboo or hemp behind this to hold the large volume.


How do I dry reusable nappies?


It is best to line dry your reusable nappies where ever possible. During summer months, drying time is much quicker, so you may find if you begin your cloth nappy journey then, you won't need as many nappies as we have suggested. However, as the days get cooler and drying needs to move inside, it can take a little longer, and therefore you may need a few more nappies.


You can dry your reusable nappies close to (but not directly on) a radiator to speed up drying time. Some manufacturers allow tumble drying but this is best avoided where you can, or ensure a very low temperature setting is used so as to not damage your nappies.


So to summaries how many reusable nappies do I need?


For part time cloth nappy use - go for about 8-10, for full time cloth nappy use - go for around 20. If using from birth, you'll need about 30 newborn nappies for full time use. Keep in mind what cloth nappy type you use, as some dry faster than others (e.g. flat nappies or a pocket nappy is quicker drying than fitted nappies). And keep in mind what material they are made from as some dry quicker than others. The speed of drying also reflects the absorbency. So although microfibre is a quick drying material, it has a lower absorbency than something like hemp or bamboo, which takes longer to dry but will hold urine.


Ready to start your cloth nappy journey - shop our reusable pocket nappy.


Matilda x

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