How do reusable nappies work? An Explanation!

How do Reusable Nappies Work?

How do reusable nappies work? A big question, but thankfully one with a relatively simple answer! While the terminology around the different types of reusable cloth nappies can be overwhelming and confusing at the start, they are all very similar really and essentially consist of two key parts:

  • An inner part that provides the absorbency.
  • A waterproof outer layer.

The two parts work in tandem to provide a solution that both absorbs and contains a baby’s “outputs”!

Absorbent Section

Absorbency in a reusable nappy can be provided by a number of different materials. The material used could take the form of an insert or booster (a flat piece of fabric that sits inside a nappy shape), or a large piece of material such as a muslin or terry which needs to be wrapped around baby. The absorbent material could also take the form of a fitted nappy, which looks like a typical nappy but does not have any waterproof properties (and would eventually leak through if used without a waterproof cover!) We have linked to various product examples above to help illustrate the different types of absorbent sections that could be in a reusable nappy.

We mentioned also that absorbency can be provided by a number of different materials. The most common materials used in reusable cloth nappies are outlined below:

Bamboo – a super soft material which offers great absorbency.

Cotton – relatively cheap, withstands washing at high temperatures as needed and offers good absorbency.

Hemp – excellent absorbency but can take a long time to dry. A hard-wearing material!

Microfibre – a synthetic material. Absorbs liquid really quickly (like a sponge!) but can leak if compressed. Dries quickly.

Waterproof Layer

The waterproof outer layer in a reusable nappy is usually made of Polyurethane Laminate (PUL). PUL is an amazing fabric, which was actually originally designed for use in the medical industry. It is incredibly durable, and is both waterproof and breathable. You will find that most reusable nappy combinations you come across will consist of a PUL layer. An example of a PUL is this Anavy cover.

Wool is another popular waterproof layer used for reusable cloth nappies. This might be surprising, as many people don’t typically think of wool as waterproof! Wool contains a natural waxy substance called Laonolin, produced by sheep to help keep themselves dry. Wool naturally contains this Lanolin, however, once in use it needs to be treated regularly (with Lanolin) to maintain it’s waterproof properties. Wool is a fantastic waterproof cover option for those who prefer natural fibres, and also has anti-bacterial properties. We love these Disana wool covers!

And that is how reusable nappies work!

Hopefully this information is helpful if you aren’t familiar with how modern cloth nappies actually work! If you’re keen to start your reusable cloth nappy journey or have any questions on anything above, please just get in touch. We’d love to help in any way we can! Contact us at!

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