Cloth nappies instead of disposables? Yeah, it might sound a bit challenging at first, but I would recommend everyone to at least try it. For about a year now, I’ve been on the eco-friendly bandwagon. By now, I have decent practice and can review a few popular brands. And I’ll be totally honest, I’ve got some pros, but also some big cons, to report. I want to give you an honest glimpse:

What are the pros and cons of the different models? How does it all work exactly? Would I recommend it? Aren’t disposable nappies way easier? What do you do when travelling? Do they leak a lot? What do you do with the dirty ones?

Whether you’re new parents stocking up or thinking of switching to cloth for an older baby – I’ll fill you in on all the pros and cons of this sustainable nappy alternative!

But first things first: what actually are cloth nappies? And are they really more sustainable than disposables?

Unlike disposable nappies made of plastic and wood pulp, reusable cloth nappies consist of absorbent natural fibers like cotton or bamboo that can be washed and re-used. This produces much less waste long-term compared to plastic nappies. However, there’s a debate around whether cloth nappies are truly more sustainable since their production uses resources and frequent hot washing isn’t eco-friendly.

A quick fact check:

  • Reusable cotton nappies require regular hot wash cycles, but have a lower carbon footprint than disposables if washed at 50-60°C in an efficient machine.
  • Reusables allegedly have 25% less global warming potential, with manufacturing and disposal impacts 9-10x higher for disposables.
  • However, reusables score worse for water/electricity use from washing/drying. This can be reduced by using efficient washers, air drying, re-using for another child, or buying secondhand.
  • However, experts don’t fully agree on how sustainable cloth nappies really are and the best way to make them accessible and environmentally-friendly for families.

For me, the biggest motivation is how quickly disposable nappies fill up our trash. But every family’s situation is different – time, space, upfront costs, lifestyle etc. It may not be the right choice for everyone. I recommend trying a starter pack to see if cloth works commitment-free.

Which Cloth Diaper Brands Have I Tried?

I’ve tested:

  • the trial starter pack from Totsbots
  • as well as secondhand Bambino Mio nappies
  • one Kit & Kin cloth nappy
  • and the Judes Family Full-Time Premium Set (Ad/Affiliate Link – received as a PR sample, hence my biggest insights on these).


Overall, I’ve tested quite a few brands and Judes Family is simply my favourite. I wasn’t paid for this blog post, and there was no obligation to write about Judes Family! I want to make that clear, as my review will be quite positive. However, as I mentioned, I WASN’T paid for this, there’s no obligation or any other kind of arrangement. I did incorporate affiliate links in this blog post though (so I can earn a little something if you buy Judes Family nappies through me). I also have a discount code for you: With MIA12 you get 12% off at Judes Family and the code is valid until May 27, 2024!

You can find my review of the different brands and more details on exactly how it all works here!

How Does Cloth Nappy Changing Work?

Each brand has a slightly different system – some fasten with studs, some with velcro, some are just wrapped, it depends on which brand you use. Otherwise, the process works just like disposables. Old nappy off, clean bum etc., new nappy on. The differences:

  • A Poo Paper liner goes inside the cloth nappy to catch any solids
  • The dirty nappy goes either into a pail or a nappy bag (I recommend a specific bag, more on that here)
  • After 3-4 days, the dirty nappies get washed and can be re-used once dry

Do I Cloth Nappy Full-Time or Part-Time and What Does That Even Mean?

My partner and I do part-time cloth nappying. We have the full-time set from Judes Family and a few Totsbots nappies, but we generally only use them during the day and not all day long. In the mornings, our little one goes to nursery in a cloth nappy, he’s in cloth at nursery, and then in the afternoon he either gets another cloth nappy or a disposable. It totally depends on how many cloth nappies we have left for the week, what we’ve got planned for the day, whether we’ll be out and about a lot, etc. I’ll explain more below.

Would I Recommend Cloth Nappies for Newborns?

For the first few months, we used disposables. We did have a trial pack from Judes Family and TotsBots, but honestly – it was all just too much for us in the beginning. Our little guy had really bad reflux issues and eczema from allergies. It took ages to get all that sorted. Because of health problems, he was waking up hourly and it felt like he was soiling his nappy every hour too. I knew babies need changing constantly at first, but for us it was just extreme – the terrible sleep deprivation, breastfeeding struggles, his skin problems…then around the 6 month mark when everything improved, we could finally try out the Judes Family full-time pack.

So I can’t really give a review for those early weeks. But I’d do it the same way again and recommend: have a starter/trial cloth nappy pack on hand and just test them out in those first few weeks. Definitely get some before birth too and get familiar with them.

What Do I Do When Out and About or Travelling?

When our little guy was younger, I used cloth nappies out and about in the city too. The Judes Family travel wet bag is just SOOOOO practical, stylish, portable and easy to use. Now that our toddler is bigger, I use disposables when we’re out. He’s luckily started doing decent nap stretches, either in the stroller or car (or at home), and if he’s not in a disposable for those, the cloth nappy often leaks (yep, even with a booster and proper fit – he just chugs SOOO MUCH milk before naps. It’s just a timing issue right now…if anyone has a cool tip, let me know, but the nappy is always SOAKED post-nap…).

For trips, we use disposables, simply because we don’t have room in our luggage otherwise.

If our parents are visiting and the house is full, we usually stick to disposables too. Partly for practical reasons and partly personal preference, but making the switch wouldn’t be too hard here either.

What Are the Main Advantages of Cloth Nappies for Me?

The biggest advantage for me personally: our rubbish bin doesn’t fill up as quickly. When we mainly use disposables, it gets full in no time and our general waste only gets collected every two weeks. That gets really unpleasant.

Plus, the Judes Family wet bags are honestly wonderful – they trap odours and I find we encounter way less unpleasant smells with cloth compared to disposables. Despite having a nappy bin for disposables! That might sound surprising, but whenever we put dirty disposables in the nappy bin, it would absolutely reek, and that stench would linger in the room. Even though nappy bins are designed not to smell. And removing the rubbish bag (designed for this too) was almost unbearable. We ended up selling the nappy bin and just taking the dirty disposable out right away. Super impractical. But with the cloth wet bag, there’s barely any odour at all! We can leave it for 3-4 days until wash day no problem. And timing-wise, that works perfectly for us (we wash the cloth nappies around every Sunday, Wednesday and Friday).

Whether our little guy prefers cloth or disposables, I couldn’t really say. There was no difference in his reactions. His skin seems okay with both too. In cloth, it sometimes looks a bit more “squished”, but doesn’t seem uncomfortable.

Changing takes the same amount of time, and washing with a dryer isn’t an issue (though obviously less sustainable). Kids are supposedly potty trained faster in cloth too. But with our part-time approach, I don’t think that really makes a difference.

What Are the Downsides to Cloth Nappies for Me?

Unfortunately, we have to change the cloth nappies way more often than disposables (even with boosters, correct fit etc. our little guy just drinks a crazy amount), which wouldn’t be a huge deal in itself. But our little one HATES nappy changes. It’s a battle every single time, ever since birth. We’ve seriously tried everything – games, distractions, gentle methods, singing, letting him pick the nappy, etc…but it’s just so difficult every time and honestly, by the end of the day/ afternoon and low on energy I just pop him into a disposable so I don’t have to change him often anymore.

We also only use disposables at night since those basically never leak. I think that’s probably the biggest downside for me: the potential for cloth nappies to leak compared to the disposables we use which very rarely leak.

The cloth nappies only last us around 2-3 hours, which makes the nap time routine a bit tricky. After his nap, our little guy is pretty much always wet and we have to change all his clothes (and as mentioned above, that’s not easy with him…). No problem at home, but a bit more challenging when we’re out.

It’s obviously also easier to dispose of poop with a disposable nappy. Just roll it up and chuck the whole thing in the trash. With cloth, you have to bin the Poo Paper liner separately, maybe do a quick clean-up with wipes too. Not always pleasant. We haven’t tried liners you can flush yet – that’s not so readily available here in England.

So I have to say, while I find the handling of cloth nappies easy enough, and washing is simple thanks to the cool Judes Family wet bags, it’s sometimes difficult in our specific situation that the cloth ones don’t last as long.

How Does It Work at Nursery?

At nursery, it’s no problem at all that he gets changed into our cloth nappies there. We drop off three fresh ones in the morning and pick up the dirty ones in a Judes Family travel wet bag in the afternoon to transfer to our big wet bag at home.

At nursery, by the way, he barely fusses during change… So my partner and I must be doing something wrong for him to hate changes so much with us, haha!

The downside with Judes Family nappies and our nursery: the nursery has certain hygiene rules and regulations, so the staff can’t re-use the wraps/ outer layer. Since we only have a set number of wraps (which aren’t meant to be changed every single time), and we don’t want to wash every day, our full-time setup turned into part-time. All-in-one nappies would be more practical for nursery, but then take up more space at home too. Maybe having a nursery stash and a part-time Judes Family stash for home would work better for us, but we just didn’t know that beforehand.

We did buy some extra wraps, but investing in a whole new stash of just wraps for full-time use is honestly too pricey for us right now.

The Summary:

I think you can tell that I’d recommend every family gets a cloth nappy starter pack. I’d definitely buy that before birth too and get familiar with the routine and set up a good changing station. Then each family can decide for themselves whether it works well, if a full-time or part-time approach is better, how their own routines flow and how to customise the whole thing.

For me personally, the handling of cloth nappies is way easier than I thought, and if our little guy cooperated better 😉 it would be the perfect choice for us during the day too. At night we personally prefer disposables that last 10-12 hours.

Whether I prefer Totsbots or Judes Family, you can read in this blog post. But this much in advance: Judes Family is my favourite, even though we haven’t quite solved the nursery “issue” yet.

What’s it like for you?

Do you cloth nappy? Or do you prefer disposables? What has your experience been??? Any questions?

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