How Many Cloth Nappies Do You Need?

How Many Cloth Nappies Do You Need?

January 31, 2020

A fairly common question when discussing reusable cloth nappies for the first time, is “How many cloth nappies do I need?”


Well firstly, before we get into the number for full time use, it’s really important to discuss part time use. Cloth nappies don’t need to be an all-or-nothing scenario. As mentioned before in some of our other blog posts, a disposable nappy is going to be hanging around in landfill for up to 500 years. Disposable nappies are filling Irish landfills at a shocking rate of 400,000,000 to 500,000,000 per year. Every single time you choose to use a cloth nappy over a disposable nappy, you are saving 1 disposable nappy from adding to that statistic. 


Obviously, in an ideal world, using cloth nappies full-time is preferred. However, for a variety of reasons, some people don’t feel that this as a realistic option. If you are one of these people, then please don’t write off the idea of using cloth nappies altogether. Even if you just switch 2 nappies per day to cloth, you will be saving about 2000 disposable nappies from going into landfill by the time your baby is potty trained. You can take pride every single time that you opt for a cloth nappy over a disposable one.

You might even find you end up using cloth more often than you had initially anticipated. You increase it to 3 cloth nappies per day? Then that’s about 3000 nappies saved from landfill... and so on.

Your babies bum will also be getting a well deserved break from the chemicals in a disposable nappy for every hour that a cloth nappy is on. It’s like nappy free time, but with a cloth nappy on!


Irish cloth nappy by my cotton drawer 

So back to our original question “How many cloth nappies do you need?”

The common answer for full time use is usually about 20. Or many say quite precisely, 24. I guess this figure comes from dividing it up into an average of 8 nappies per day. You might use 8 in one day, have 8 in the wash, and 8 drying, getting ready for next use. The reality is the amount you need is completely dependant on how many you use per day, and how fast you can turn them over so they are ready for their next use. 


If you don’t have a tumble dryer, you live in a cold house, and it’s winter time... well it is going to take you longer to get the nappies washed and dried. In this case you really will need up to 24 for full time use. During the summer realistically you can turn them over really fast, you can have the nappies washed, dried, and ready for next use in a matter of hours. A tumble dryer will also do this for you, however line drying is better whenever you can chose that option instead. 


If you live in a cold house (like me!) don’t have a tumble dryer (also like me!) and it’s wintertime, then all is not lost. A way to speed up your nappy drying time is with a dehumidifier. In a cold damp house, a dehumidifier has a multitude of uses during the winter. If you have a small room that you can hang your nappies out in, eg a utility room, then simply close the door and turn on your dehumidifier. They really are miracle workers. They are pretty cheap to buy, and they don’t use a lot of energy. It’s quite amazing to empty out filled water container (I’m use it to fill my dogs drinking bowls) and feel how fast the moisture has been taken out of your drying nappies.


A comfortable number of nappies for full time use would be 24. This would mean  you aren’t under any pressure to get your nappies washed and dried in time. Depending on your circumstances, you could get away with about 16 cloth nappies for full time use. The quicker you get them washed and dried, the less you actually need. But please remember, it doesn’t have to be all or nothing. Just one or two cloth nappies per day is better that none at all.


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