How Long Do Reusable Nappies Last?

reusable nappies

How long should your reusable nappies last?

Ok so unlike plastic disposable nappies that get used once and then thrown away, reusable nappies are designed to be washed and reused over and over again. This isn't a new idea, the likelihood is your mum used reusable nappies for you when you were a child and your grandmother certainly did.

Reusable Nappies

Reusable nappies (providing you look after them) will last for a really long time. However, they are not indestructible and will suffer wear over time. Just like your clothes wear a little bit more every time you wash them nappies do too.

Babies get through a lot of nappy changes, 5 nappies a day works out at over 1800 disposable nappies a year and your baby is likely to use a lot more in their first year, up to 2500. That's a lot of nappies you are saving from the bin by choosing to reuse.

Depending on how many nappies you have (the patterns are gorgeous and it can be tempting to buy more) each nappy is going to get washed around 2 or 3 times a week. Which means by the time you potty train each nappy is going to have been washed at least 200 times. If you washed a pair of jeans or a t-shirt that many times you would expect fading and thinning of the fabric and the same is true of nappies.

If you are starting using cloth nappies with your first baby you can get nappies that will last you through to potty training and can then be used again for any subsequent children. If you have a new baby before the first is potty trained you might need a few extra when baby number two comes along, or you might just find you have enough to fill the machine and wash more often.

Things that might go wrong with your nappies

There are a few things that might go wrong and mean you need to replace your nappies rather than selling them on when your babies are all grown up into preschoolers, but generally speaking, providing you look after them, good quality reusable nappies last a really long time.

1. The elastic can go over time. It's the same as your knicker elastic going after a few years. Luckily though this is pretty easy to repair if you are handy with a needle and thread, or inexpensive to get someone else to.

2. The PLU stops being waterproof. This will happen over time but there are a few things that will speed up the process that you can avoid. First up neither the elastic or the PLU like the dryer so while you might tumble the inserts it's always best to hang out the wraps. Secondly, ammonia can degrade the fabric so it's best not to leave for more than a couple of days maximum before washing and if you need to for any reason, for example, you are on holiday, do a quick rinse wash.

3. Look after the velcro (or go for poppers instead). Velcro can catch on the nappy fabric causing little pulls that will degrade the overall look of the nappy over time and can also get clogged up pretty quickly with fluff. Defluffing the velcro can be a great meditative activity.

Next up: Which reusable nappies are best?