East London Waste Authority
East London Waste Authority

Real nappies


An average baby uses around 5,400 nappies, which end up in landfill sites and take hundreds of years to break down…all of the disposable nappies ever used are still in landfill and they will still be around when your grandchildren’s grandchildren are in nappies.

Modern reusable nappies come with liners and Velcro fastenings, and local nappy laundry services even collect dirty reusable nappies and deliver clean ones. Reusable nappies are good for the environment and kind to your wallet – one set lasts your child (and the next one) until they stop using nappies, and could work out up to £500 cheaper than using disposables.

There are lots of websites with more information on the ideal type of nappy for you – check out goreal.org.uk. Not sure if it’s for you? Jump down the page for our User Guide and FAQs.

Where can you get Real Nappies?

It can be difficult to buy real nappies without going online; you can find a variety through Real Nappies for London. ‘Pre-loved’ nappies are also widely available, through websites such as eBay; you can also try NCT Nearly New Sales. You can find other ‘cloth bum mums’ on Facebook too. Search for local groups and you’ll find a lot of nearby parents wanting to sell on their nappies for a new baby to use and, really importantly, offering support and advice on how to use them.

The only shop selling real nappies in the area is Sid and Evie’s (174 George Lane, South Woodford). Give them a ring first to check they have the size you want in stock.

How do they work?

  1. 1. Place a liner in your real nappy and put the nappy on your baby!
    2. Check the nappy as you would with a disposable; it should be fine for a few hours – use booster pads for extra absorbency
    3. Change your baby’s nappy, flush the liner and the poo down the toilet
    4. Put your used nappy in a lidded bucket or container, you don’t need to soak the nappies
    5. Wash a full load of nappies in your washing machine at 60 degrees or less using non-bio, and no fabric softener as it will damage the nappies
    6. Dry your nappies on a line if possible, the sun is a natural whitener!


1. Aren’t real nappies hard work?
No, it’s a lot easier nowadays! You can use terry cloths, but most varieties look and work just like disposables, meaning it’s easy to put a clean nappy on; the dirty one just goes into a nappy bucket/bin instead of your rubbish bin. Plus, think of all the trips to the shops and bin bags full of smelly disposables you’ll save on!

By placing a liner in the nappy, you catch the poo, which can go into the toilet. The nappy then goes straight into a sealed nappy bucket/bin; once you have a washload, you just wash them at 60 degrees. No pre-soaking or boiling required!

Real nappies fit a lot better around the back and legs, so you’re less likely to have to change (and therefore wash) baby’s clothes during the day.

2. Aren’t babies uncomfortable in a wet cloth nappy?
Babies used to wear cloth nappies all the time! It makes them more aware, and they may potty train earlier. It is rare that they would feel uncomfortable or that it would wake them at night.

If you are finding that your nappies are getting wet too quickly, you can add extra boosters or try a different type of nappy – it’s worth getting a few different types to see what works for you.

3. What about nappy rash?
Nappy rash has different causes: usually teething, change of diet or illness. Infrequent changing can also be a problem, which is less likely with real nappies.

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Barking & Dagenham