Why Choose Modern Cloth Nappies?

Having used cloth nappies fulltime on two out of my 3 children, as well as marketing a successful brand of cloth nappy in South Africa, I often get asked the question “Why use Cloth Nappies?” to which I offer the following 4 compelling reasons:


  • You will possibly change between 4000 and 6000 nappies over a 2 – 3 year period.
  • The average parent spends up to R20 000 for the first two and a half years of your child wearing nappies.
  • A full time pack of modern cloth nappies will cost you around R3000 and can be reused for further children.
  • Using just 1 cloth nappy per day could mean a saving of about 730 nappies over that time.


  • Disposables are not biodegradable. Nobody knows exactly how many years they take to breakdown, but it is estimated to be between 300 and 500 years which would mean that pretty much some or all parts of any disposable nappy ever put into a landfill are still there.
  • It takes as much energy to produce one disposable nappy than to wash a reusable nappy 200 times.
  • Twice the amount of water is used to produce one disposable nappy than to wash one reusable nappy for a year.
  • Disposables account for a ⅓ of household waste for a family with one child less than two years old, and have a huge impact on the cost of waste removal by our municipalities. Modern cloth nappies can be made from environmentally sustainable materials like bamboo, hemp, wool & organic cotton, all of which use less water and energy to produce than traditional cotton.


  • Using cloth nappies you have the control over what chemicals come into contact with your baby’s sensitive skin. Disposables contain very harsh toxic chemicals such as Sodium Polyacrylate to make them absorbent.
  • Sodium Polyacrylate has been banned for many years in female hygiene products due to its link with toxic shock syndrome.
  • The WHO (World Health Organisation) has found levels of over 3 times the allowable daily intake of Tributyl Tin (a highly toxic chemical) in some nappy brands.
  • A possible link between disposables and the increasing prevalence of childhood asthma, due to airborne emissions from the nappies.
  • Disposables keep boys genitalia at a slightly higher than normal level, possibly leading to fertility issues.


  • The modern cloth nappy is shaped like a disposable and uses either Velcro or popper closures, making it extremely easy to put onto a wriggly baby. Made from fabrics such as hemp, bamboo, microfiber, wool, fleece & polyurethane laminate (pul), modern cloth nappies are extremely absorbent and allow air to circulate around the nappy.
  • Simply store soiled nappies in a dry lidded bucket, pop in the washing machine and wash as you do regular laundry. No need to ever soak!
  • Disposables are notorious for “Blowouts” and can only contain a set amount of liquid. The elasticised waist and legs of the modern cloth nappy help to contain the poop and at night, or for heavy wetters, extra boosters can be added to make the nappy more absorbent.
  • The Darebin Cloth Nappy Trial released in 2007* showed that cloth nappy users spent on average 5 minutes more per day “nappying” than disposable users (this includes changing, washing, folding & rubbish removal).
  • Modern cloth nappies are seriously stylish and trim fitting. They come in a range of adorable prints, colours and textures. You will never want to cover them up. They can be paired with a nice t-shirt or dress and some leggings to make a great fashion statement.

By Celeste Booysen

Share This Post