Disposable liners versus washable liners versus no liners !
Can I just say to any prospective cloth parent reading this who is horrified at the thought of dealing with poo – whatever nappy system you use, disposable or cloth, you will be dealing with your babies ‘solid waste’. In my opinion there is nothing more horrific than wrapping poo in a disposable plastic nappy and letting it sit in your bin for a week or two, far more hygienic and much less smelly to flush poo down the toilet!
Liners for cloth nappies are all about catching the poo and making it a bit easier to deal with. You place it between the nappy and the baby to catch the solids (poo). They can also act as a barrier to protect your nappies from nappy rash creams. Fleece liners also act as a ‘stay dry’ liner which is very useful to use with cotton or bamboo nappies because they can end up becoming wet next to your babies skin, particularly when used for long periods at night. There are two types of liners, disposable paper ones or fabric re-usable ones. So what are the main differences between the two?
No liner is also a option. If you are breastfeeding your newborn baby then their poo is water soluble. The nappy can go straight into the nappy bucket / machine and if you use a rinse cycle rather than a prewash that first batch of dirty water will be drained and the main wash will be with clean water and your nappies will be lovely and clean. Alternatively at nappy change time you can hold the soiled nappy under the flush in your toilet, hold tight though you don’t want to flush your nappy! With newborns babies it is messy and usually very frequent so you may choose to use liners in the first few months. Secondly once your baby is fully weaned and eating well the amount of times they poo each day is reduced and the poo more solid so at this point you may stop using a liner altogether or most of the time. Babies can be quite regular as they get older so you can often gage when to use a liner or not. Fleece liners work very well at this stage as the poo can often be flicked off down the toilet very easily.
All options work well and neither is better than the other, it is just personal preference. Try out a few options and see what works best for you and your family.
Reusable Cloth Nappy Liners
Reusable washable liners are made from a single layer of fabric that can be washed many times without falling apart. Washable liners can be made from cotton, silk and fleece, with the most common material being fleece. Fleece is popular because it also wicks moisture away and maintains a dry feeling for your baby so it is like adding a ‘stay dry’ layer. Fleece is also inexpensive and doesn’t fray when cut which means it is very easy to make your own.
Wet liners get chucked in the bucket with the dirty nappies. Soiled liners are taken to the toilet and if the poo is solid then it should easily flick off down the toilet, when not solid I used to hold the liner (tightly) under the flush to get rid of the worst, and then put the dirty liner into my nappy pail and wash with the nappies.
Disposable Cloth Nappy Liners
Disposable liners for cloth nappies are rectangles of thin fabric like mesh and are made from viscose, often rayon viscose or bamboo viscose or corn starch PLA.
Rayon is another word for viscose and is a material made from wood pulp broken down into cellulose bits, polymerized, and then extruded into fine, smooth fibres. “Bamboo rayon,” or “bamboo viscose” then is this same process but with bamboo pulp. Corn starch PLA is a modern polyester derived from natural starches or sugars to create this simple spun bonded non woven fabric. The active ingredient is lactic acid which is widely found in nature and a large number of organisms which live in soils and compost naturally metabolise lactic acid leaving behind them carbon dioxide, water and also soil nutrients such as humous
All viscose and corn starch disposable liners are biodegradable as they are made from natural fibres, even if the process to make them is a bit unnatural.
Of course, since they are biodegradable, it should be no surprise that they don’t hold up well to reuse. Some can be washed and reused once or twice but the majority find themselves super thin and useable after a wash with the nappies. Disposable liners are much stronger than toilet roll so do not disintegrate into thousands of little pieces in the wash, they generally do stay in one piece.
Are paper nappy liners flushable? Many disposable liners used to be sold as flushable, but recent opinions have now changed on this. There are genuine concerns that because they take between 5 – 10 days to disintegrate they can get caught in the drain grids and contribute to the fatberg and some municipal sewerage systems around the EU aren’t really able to cope. So the general advice now is to compost or bin the wet ones and to shake of solids into the toilet and bag up and bin the soiled liners. My kids are 16 at time of writing this so long out of nappies, I did flush paper liners when I used them , it was so easy and recommended. If you bin all wet ones and occasionally flush a heavily soiled paper liner that is your personal choice but sadly I now have to recommend that you DO NOT flush them.