Reusable cloth nappies

I’m always aiming to be zero waste, and had thoroughly researched cloth nappies on the internet from probably my whole pregnancy! About 5 months before my baby was born, I spotted a cloth nappy bundle on my local Facebook selling group. It was the works – nappies, covers, liners and boosters for £45. In the few days it took me to arrange a time to meet up with the seller, she was so desperate to sell them as she was moving house – she’d dropped the price to £25! It turned out they were brand new, she’d bought them from another lady who’d never used them. Then she’d been gifted a year’s supply of disposables and never used them. I couldn’t believe my luck! All in all I got:

4 small Motherease Airflow wraps in white (RRP £12.99 ea)

4 medium Motherease Airflow wraps in white (RRP £12.99 ea)

4 large Motherease Airflow wraps (RRP £13.99 ea)

10 Motherease snap-in booster pads in natural (RRP £2.50 ea)

14 Motherease one size cloth nappies in natural (RRP £10.99 ea)

4 rolls of paper liners (RRP £7.99 ea)

TOTAL Price new £370.70

So, I’ll be saving money against disposables in no time at all! I also picked up a Tots Bots lockable nappy bucket (RRP £12.99) and 2 mesh bags (RRP £8.99), plus about 10 white Tots Bots Bamboozle nappies (RRP around £15 ea, which we haven’t even tried yet!) off eBay for 50p and got another on Freecycle. I use one for nappies and cloth wipes and one for disposables.

I did write in this post about how the cloth nappies weren’t working for us all in the first 6 months until weaning started. Motherease are meant to be one size, but you have to fold them over initially. This makes them incredibly bulky and my baby is very slim. They were absolutely huge on him in the first few months – really looking quite ridiculous on him. Looks aside, he couldn’t seem to bend his legs properly and every time we tried them, he wouldn’t sleep. We couldn’t cope with no sleep and it wasn’t doing him any good, so we stuck with disposables regrettably. I cringed every time I had to look at the plastic piling up in our bin. We had to request a larger bin 😦 It was a very hot summer here in the UK and he seemed to overheat in these bulky nappies, which I’m sure was a contributing factor too. All that aside, I can safely say that I wouldn’t have fancied having to scrape all that liquid newborn poo off them either.

Basically, we started using them at about 7 months; prompted by the terrible smell coming from the so-called ‘Pampers Pure’ disposables. They smelt like pine disinfectant straight out of the packet and worse once my LO had wee’d in them!!! When he got a combination fungal and eczema infection all over the nappy area, I decided it was time to try the cloth again and we haven’t looked back! We do still use one disposable every night, as it’s not recommended to put them in cloth at night, whilst they’re still having a night feed. So this may change in the future – although he seems to be a heavy wetter, so I think it’s going to take a lot of boosting.

I actually love the cloth now, they’re so easy to wash and require no rinse cycle at all. I just follow Motherease’s own instructions and wash them on a 60 degree ‘hygiene’ wash in my Miele machine. They come out perfect every time and I sometimes tumble dry them in the winter, to get them dry in time. We also live in a very hard water area, so I think if I didn’t tumble dry them sometimes they’d end up like cardboard, as the towels do. Although, I’ve just bought a heated airer which is pretty miserly on the old electricity, so I’m hoping this will possibly eliminate tumble dryer use.

14 nappies could last up to 3 days, but once they’re wet – 2 days worth is about all I can fit in one cycle in my machine. So we basically wash every 2 days. The wraps dry almost instantly. They come up perfectly every time; I wash using a spray stain remover where needed, Fairy Non-Bio (because it suits us and eco detergents are NOT recommended), 50ml white vinegar as a fabric softener and 1 tbsp soap crystals as a water softener and stain remover in wash.

We’ll have to see where this cloth nappy journey takes us over the next year or so!

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How to Save Money on Laundry Detergent

Buying laundry detergent can be mind-boggling because there is such an array of products on the shelves these days! Did you know that the majority of products on UK supermarket shelves are all made by only 2 global brands? Shocking, I know. You wouldn’t believe it from their marketing.

At the end of the day, that is what you’re paying for when you buy from a market leader – their advertising and the branding of the product. Didn’t you notice how often they re-design their packaging? Or how often their TV adverts change? Essentially all laundry detergents are the same, no matter what their format – powder, liquid or capsule. But the way you use them can also be beyond confusing – should you put it in the drawer, the drum or a wash ball? Honestly, the main difference between them all is price and how much damage they can do to your washing machine – yes really!

Liquid detergent gunks up your machine over time and capsules are worse because they are made of plastic, it never fully dissolves and can also damage your machine as it builds up inside. Capsules make a mess in your machine, where they stick when they don’t dissolve. Both liquid and capsule detergent also blocks your pipes over time, take it from someone who knows! The drain ‘doctor’ strongly advised never to use anything by laundry powder. If it does that to your pipes, then goodness knows what it’s doing to the inside of your machine.

Remember that you will always pay for convenience, so by buying capsules – you are spending maximum money! As there is no option to change the capsule dose – a capsule is a capsule, it’s a pre-set dose) for each wash, you could easily be using far more detergent than you actually need, particularly if you soften your water (more on that below). Powders are by far the cheapest to produce (and also happen to be the most eco-friendly, if you purchase them in cardboard) and so, they are the cheapest for consumers to buy. All manufacturers will send you a dosing scoop for free, if you send away to the address on the side of the pack. So there is absolutely no reason why you can’t take a moment to measure the correct amount each time.

Now, back to the issue of softening the water. Any detergent needs to soften the water before it can get to work. This is an important issue in the UK, as most places suffer hard water. Save yourself some more money by softening your water with a cheaper product than your expensive laundry detergent! Don’t waste your money on an expensive limescale prevention product; brand name or supermarket own! All you need is a 60p bag of Soda Crystals from Dri-Pak purchased at Home Bargains. (They are available elsewhere, for  about 40p more, like Wilko and Sainsbury’s). Add about a tablespoon with your detergent at each wash, just put it into the drawer.

Use MySupermarket to find out when your preferred brand of laundry detergent is on offer, so you always pay the lowest possible price and buy the biggest pack available (buying in bulk=big savings) – usually 65 washes these days for £10. (Don’t get me started that a couple of years ago you used to get 85 washes for the same price!!!) Though personally, with the addition of Soda Crystals I can make my box last about twice as long as that.

Finally, stop using fabric softener – it’s completely unnecessary and actually decreases the absorbency of towels and can make other clothing more flammable! Use about 50ml of white vinegar instead. It doesn’t make your laundry smell, but it will soften it without the needs for artificial chemicals and fragrances. It’s also a lot kinder on your wallet too – I can pick up 5 litres for £2.00.

I hope this helps you to save money on your laundry.

How to make your washing powder go further

Over the past year, I’ve been trying out various tips to get my washing powder to go further. I’ve just finished a large “65 wash” box of Fairy Non-Bio Powder – 5.2Kg. I would like to try using more environmentally friendly options when I get to the end of my current supply, but I have another small box to go that Fairy gave me for free.

Anyway, I have calculated that I got 208 washes from this box, as I got it on offer for £10, at a cost of just under 5p per wash! I use 70g per wash as I feel this is the minimum amount I can get away with. However, I do need to factor in that I now add 30-50g of Dp Soda Crystals 1kg to every wash. I buy them in 1kg packs for 65p at Home Bargains (cheapest I’ve found)! So (at 50g per wash) I get 20 washes from a bag at a cost of 0.03p per wash- it’s negligible. These have the advantages of softening our hard water, meaning I can use less powder, keep my washing machine running well and helping to remove stains.

(I will add that I am currently using up my supply of fabric softener which I use in 2 of the 4 washes, at a cost of £1.50 per 1.5L and I have probably used 3 bottles in the last year so that’s a cost of £4.50. According to Tesco I would get 42 washes per bottle, at a cost of 0.035p per wash. But I am phasing this out and won’t be buying it anymore, instead switching to using white vinegar which I can buy in bulk for £2.99 for 5 litres. I would add about 50ml per wash. So that’s 100 washes per bottle, at a cost of 0.029 per wash).

So in the last year, I spent a grand total of £21.26 on washing, if I factor in fabric conditioner. This next year, I hope to spend less! I may keep the fabric conditioner bottle and just use a cap full of Golden Swan White Vinegar 5 Litre (Pack of 4), which would mean I’d be using less- to see how that goes.

Aside from this, white vinegar is a more environmentally friendly option, is not full of fake fragrances and other chemical nasties. It also means our clothes will not be at risk of catching fire.

How much does your washing cost you? Can you share any tips?