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Sunday, May 16, 2010


I thought I would dedicate a little time to my current obsession – nappies. When I first found out we were knocked up I was convinced we were going disposable all the way. What modern mum has time faff about with rinsing washing and hanging cloth nappies was my reasoning. No way was I going to enslave myself to the washing machine like a 1950’s house drone. Well - my husband (bless him) being Scottish had a different opinion, he reasoned that disposable nappies were a big fat waste of money and that we should go with cloth. Words were had and after a bit of sulking on my part and an agreement that he would be the primary nappy washer we decided to go cloth. Sadly the environment was the last thing on my mind but I can still be smug and self satisfied that I am saving on landfill. Part of my theory relied heavily on the propaganda put out by disposable nappy manufacturers that washing cloth nappies has just as much of an environmental footprint as landfill. After a bit of research I find this is not the case at all and have had to jump down off my high horse. 

The truth is modern cloth nappies are pretty awesome. For all of those mums who dread soaking scraping and having to touch poo I can happily say with the exception of the odd mishap I do not have to touch the poo. Modern washing machines handle a lot more than they used to which removes the need for scraping and soaking, I literally just biff the nappies in and they come out clean. I have a bag of disposables I use for when I am caught short or for some outings but I barely use them and I can honestly say I have been converted, I prefer cloth over disposables on all fronts. With disposables they are so drying that they suck the moisture right out of the poo turning it into a sticky mass which is very hard to wipe off, whereas with cloth the fibres of the cloth literally grip onto the poo and pull it away from his skin. I have had no nappy disasters with cloth nappies, no poo shooting up the back or out the legs and at night he has never leaked through once. If you have enough nappies as well, washing just isn’t that big a chore, we do a load every day or every second day depending on how productive he has been and I literally toss the contents of the nappy bucket in and after a cold wash hang them out or bang them in the dryer. Nappies also dry really well on heated towel rails or over doors. Bearing in mind we want to keep electricity bills low, the line is still the best place with the added bonus of sunlight acting as a natural bleach and disinfectant. I can also say quite truthfully he has not had a single bout of nappy rash since the day he was born.

There are 3 major kinds of modern cloth nappies and the type you select will depend on what you want out of a nappy.

If you want to be able to put your nappies in the dryer and are looking for a really nice absorbent option then fitted nappies may be the one for you.

Fitted Nappies

Fitted nappies have a cloth nappy that has been made to fit around the bum and do up with poppers or Velcro. The cover is separate so you only need to change the cover every so often but the inners are replaced with every change. Fitted nappies dry quickly as they often open right out and are simple to wash, they have the added benefit of being able to go in the dryer which can be a huge time saver. The covers simply need a quick wash or rinse and dry within minutes as they are made of a waterproof material. The system I use is bamboozle by tots bots and I have the say they are awesome. Bamboo is more absorbent and antibacterial, it is also soft on the skin and easy to clean. Bamboo takes slightly longer to dry because it’s more absorbent but that’s the only flaw that I can find. If you get the popper nappies they last from birth to potty which is great for the budget conscious.

If you are looking for a cheaper option with a lot of flexibility then prefolds may be the one for you.

Prefolds & Pocket Nappies

This is closer to the old school nappy system. The prefolds are similar to fitted nappies but they use a square of cloth folded into three inside a cover. This makes them a great price as the flat cloths are much cheaper and they are by far the quickest to dry. I don’t find they are as absorbent or leak proof as fitted nappies but I have used these quite a lot and they work well with newborns as they are not too bulky. Pocket nappies are a variation of prefolds in that the insert fits in a pocket that is part of the cover, personally I don’t like these as you have to wash the covers with every change meaning you need a lot more nappy bits and pieces but the benefit is that there is a ‘stay dry’ layer between baby’s bum and the absorbent core.

If you’re looking for an option that is as close to the disposable nappy as you can get then an all in one is going to suit you.

All in Ones

These nappies are the outer cover, absorbent core and stay dry layer all in one nappy – hence the name ‘all in one’ They can be very trim fitting and convenient to put on wriggling babies as there is only one step. I have a few all in ones that I use so he can fit outfits he may have grown out of in bulkier nappies or for outings when I want to travel light. All in ones usually cannot be put in the dryer and take a long time to dry comparatively. The flexitot from Tot’s bots is a very popular model because it uses natural fibres close to baby’s bum and has a very trim fit. I found they take a long time to dry and as you can’t use the dryer you may need a lot more than the recommended 15-20 nappies. I would say double that.

Cloth nappies are worth experimenting with because every baby is different and for different times of day or night a selection of nappies might suit. I myself use a variety of fitted, prefolds and all in ones depending on the circumstance but I far and away love the fitted ones most. When trialling cloth nappies remember that their absorbency does not reach maximum until about 10 or 12 washes, so don’t judge them straight away. Also be aware of what clothes you have your precious wee mite in as cloth nappies require a bit more ease in the crotch and bum – as I have a very tall baby I found I needed to be one size ahead of his age bracket.

Cloth nappies with a bit of care will last for 3 or 4 children and with each child the savings get bigger and bigger as there is no outlay of cash. Take care of them and they will take care of baby’s bum. Don’t soak them in harsh chemicals or put covers in the dryer, air dry whenever possible. Avoid buildup by not using greasy creams or talc unless needed and if you are using these things consider getting rewashable liners which are available usually from the same place you would buy nappies, either online or at your local baby store.

Cloth nappies are not cheap initially with some systems costing as much as $600 for a starter set. However in the long run they are much cheaper than disposables and you have a lot less rubbish. Talk to your local council and see if any nappy systems are subsidised.

Another option is to make your own nappies, there are a few NZ websites that offer supplies and patterns to do this. I have been meaning to get around to it myself but have trouble finding time! It might be a great project for you if you’re pregnant and on the final countdown or if you have a handy mother or mother in law you could delegate. A friend of mine used the patterns and the nappy worked really well. For about quarter the cost this is a great option for the budget conscious.

The websites are

I can't rave on about cloth nappies enough to be honest - even if you are a firm believer in disposable, give them a try. get one or two and see how they go!


I don’t know about you but I get a little steamed about all of those cleaning product adverts with pristine mothers in ¾ pants and a manic grin gliding about their house spraying chemicals left right and centre. One – why is it always women in these commercials? I know plenty of men who clean. Two – they talk about germs as if they are the end to humankind, germs aren't that bad! Three – what mother looks like that all perfectly groomed and smiling whilst cleaning the house and wrangling 3 kids? Not me, I usually march about the house in my bathrobe and slippers evicting mess to the far corners where I can’t see it, hoping like nothing else that the wee man will sleep a few extra minutes so I can pee/eat breakfast/have shower/get dressed all at once.

I personally think we are cleaning too much, don’t get me wrong I love a nice clean house but the ongoing warfare against germs seems unnecessary and expensive. Germs by and large are a natural and wholesome part of life. No one is germ free except for perhaps the boy in the bubble and he is one sick wee boy. Children need germs to develop a healthy immune system and I resent large companies trying to make me feel guilty or scared about germs in my household and I think it’s even more ridiculous that we are using highly toxic chemical laden cleansers to make our houses ‘clean’ If I had to pick between a few germs and a few chemicals I would go for germs all the time. My mum informs me we were grubby little children and I seem none the worse for wear!

I used to be a cleaning product junkie, if it had bright colours on the label I had it, but now I have reduced my household cleaning regime to these few products. Not only are these safer for babies but they are more environmentally friendly and they are cheaper too.

Teatree oil – antibacterial and odour remover
Lavender Oil – natural scent
Baking Soda – odour remover, stain remover and good for scouring
Vinegar – Great for mould, smells and grime

I use these items on their own or combined for all major cleaning jobs around the house!

Antibacterial Surface Spray

1 cup vinegar
1 cup water
5 drops tea tree oil

This is my all purpose spray mix great for bench tops, windows, surfaces and I spray it on dishes that may be a little stubborn in the dishwasher

I put a couple of drops of Lavender oil on the vacuum bag when I lux the house, it really makes the carpet smell fresh and clean. To save pennies, if your vacuum cleaner takes a fabric bag that can’t be reused you can cut one end to empty it and then run a few rows of stitching along to reuse!


The best smell remover is a candle or scent burner. I can’t think of anything more silly than spraying chemicals into the air we breathe so it smells nicer. I bought a cheapie cheap scent burner and just light it whenever the house gets a bit close. I often have it lit when it’s nappy time! Don't forget also nothing beats opening all the windows and curtains to let the sunlight and fresh air get at those stinky greeblies.

Carpet stains and other mucky marks

Baking soda with vinegar scrubbed in and rinsed out before drying. Although for most carpet whoopsies the best thing is to soak it in water and sponge dry – repeat until clean. Use warm water if it is a greasy one. A carpet specialist gave me that one and after 5 years of vomity dog and red wine I can attest to it’s efficacy.

Bathroom grub

If the spray doesn’t work then make baking soda and vinegar into a paste and use like jif.

Mould and Mildew

Pure vinegar with a few drops of tea tree to reduce the fish and chips smell.


Zap a mug with hot water and vinegar until the microwave is all steamed. Should wipe clean beautifully.

Floor Wax

I don’t often wax the floor but if you were into that then my dad in law swears by this.

1 part natural turps
1 part beeswax

Mix in a glass jar and over a week the beeswax should dissolve. Rub into wooden surfaces and floors to get to a nice shine – requires a little elbow grease!

The Amish make an all-purpose cleaning solution by combining 1/4 cup baking soda, 1/4 cup ammonia, 1/4 cup white vinegar and a gallon of water Shake well and pour the solution into a spray bottle.

Baking soda and vinegar can be used to clean carpet spots. Sprinkle the baking soda on the spot, then pour on some vinegar. It'll bubble like crazy. Let it dry some and then vacuum. And make sure you test the color fastness of your carpet first - before cleaning the whole thing.

You can clean out the innards of your dishwater by running it empty with a bowl of vinegar in it. Same is true for your coffee pot..

Coffee and tea stains can be cleaned by rubbing baking soda into them.

Borax is an effective alternative to harsh chlorine bleach, don't ask me where you can get borax but I have been told it's true.

We love killing bacteria, so manufacturers are turning to triclosan to help us do it. But this disinfectant can prompt the growth of resistant bacteria; what's more, it can turn carcinogenic. Use vinegar instead (and remember that not all bacteria is harmful!).

We've been brainwashed into thinking that germs are evil and our homes must be free of all bacteria, but the truth is that for dustiness, spills and specks, a good strong wipe with a damp towel is not only plenty effective, but safer for you and better for the planet

If you absolutely must have your cleaning products and potions you can try this simple trick to reduce costs and chemicals. Use half – I am not kidding. Use half of what you normally would or is recommended by the manufacturer. 9 times out of 10 everything will be cleaned just as well. I do this for the dishwasher as I can’t quite quit the powder and my dishes still get just as clean.

I imagine there are a million and one other home recipes for cleaning products, I like to keep it as simple as possible. If I must buy a product I try and get the one with the least chemicals, there is no replacement for elbow grease!