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Disposable or Reuseable – The Big Nappy Debate

Disposable or reusable? The choice is entirely yours. Your decision will most likely be based on cost, convenience, babies health and hygiene and environmental concerns (not in any particular order). You may want to figure out what your priority is before you decide and make a decision from there. This post will help you with that decision!


Despite the initial outlay costing more, reusable nappies work out much cheaper to use than disposables. If cost is a big factor in your decision then consider the fact that newborns need changing approximately 12 times a day. Depending on the brand of disposable nappies used to compare, it is estimated you could save anything between £150-£1000 per year. Most reusable nappies are able to be used again for 2nd children so if you plan on expanding your family in the future, the savings double!


Without a shadow of doubt, disposable nappies are more convenient than reusable. They are available in pretty much every shop (be it a big supermarket chain or a local grocery store), they are more absorbent and once they are dirtied you simply throw them away. If all you had to consider was convenience then you would most likely choose disposable. With that said, there is no reason why you can’t use a combination of both (such as disposables at bed time and when out of the house for long periods and reusables for any other time).

Babies health and hygiene

There have been concerns that disposable nappies have harmful chemicals and reusable cloth nappies cause nappy rash. There is absolutely no evidence to suggest reusable nappies produce nappy rash. Nappy rash is caused by a number of factors such as friction, moisture, urine and faeces. Sometimes, the culprit is infection from yeast, such as candida albicans. Disposable nappies are generally more absorbent than reusable ones which may reduce moisture but the key to avoiding Nappy rash will always be to use a good protective cream and to change your baby regularly. The concerns regarding harmful chemicals dates back to a case over thirty years ago involving tampons. The same super absorbent ingredients are used in nappies (Sodium polyacrylate crystals) and there were fears these caused or were linked to toxic shock cases. It was later discovered it was misuse of the tampons that caused this. You should also remember that nappies don’t enter the human body so any risks are likely to be perceived rather than factual. Another unproven concern regarding disposable nappies is that they cause the temperature of the scrotum to be higher than the boys who wear reusable cotton nappies. A study in Germany in 2002 found this information to be incorrect and concluded the temperature was the same in boys who wear either disposable or reusable.

The Environment

Surprisingly enough, the environment agency found little difference when comparing disposable or reusable nappies in terms of environmental impact. The fact is they both affect the environment negatively, just in different ways. Disposable nappies take over 100 years to degrade and make up 4% of our total landfill waste (which is huge)! Reusable nappies need to be washed regularly meaning they use water and electricity. Not to mention the delivery service some companies offer which of course consume fuel and pollute the air. If you do decide on reusable nappies, washing them on a full load at a lowered temperature (perhaps 60 degrees instead of 90) and not using a tumble dryer will help to lower the impact they have on the environment.

I hope this has helped you reach an informed decision. Please let us know what you decide on and why?