Updated: Jan 14
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Many people (myself included) choose to line their cloth nappies in order to catch most of the poo and make them easier to clean before going in the machine, and there are a few different options you may wish to choose from.
There are two main types of liner which people use, reusable and disposable. Each really are what they say you are, a reusable liner is deigned to be washed and used again and a disposable one is single use.
Most people opt for fleece reusable liners because fleece does not absorb liquid and therefore helps keep Baby’s bottom nice and dry in the nappy. One downfall with fleece is that it does contain microplastics which come out with each wash and make their way into our water system, there are ways to combat this such as washing your liners in a bag to catch the plastics (be careful not to overload your bag though or they won't wash thoroughly).
Another option for reusable liners, although often less popular, for some due to the price and others due to the smell when wet and gentle care requirements, is silk. However, don't let this put you off, not only is silk natural and contain no microplastics, it also has a natural anti-bacterial property so is fantastic for sensitive bottoms or for combating nappy rash.
Disposable liners are generally made of paper or other natural fibres such as bamboo. These do not offer the same stay-dry features that reusable liners do and are designed as single use. With all nappies (including disposable) you are supposed to knock any poo down the toilet and not bin it because of the methane it releases during it’s time in landfill.
This may lead you to ask why would people choose disposable? We do, for child care, the primary reason being because with a fleece liner we would get the entire thing back at the end of the day which I don’t fancy cleaning after a day at work. Others choose them because it balances between reusable and disposable nappies, you don’t need to rinse them as thoroughly as you would a reusable one, just get the main bulk off and then handle them as you would a disposable nappy.
There are many disposable liners out there which claim they are flushable, however, this is sadly not true. Flushable means that they will flush out of your system, it does not mean that they will break up in the same way toilet paper does, meaning that they can cause blockages later down the line. This is proven by the handful of these liners which have gone through my washing machine, they come out in one piece and I actually use them again. With regards to washing these liners you can, they tend to survive a couple of washes, but a word of warning, they can also easily slip through the drum and get caught in the filter which I have had a problem with before.
When should you use liners?
We initially started using disposable liners when we started cloth nappies at 6 weeks old, and I quickly learnt that not only was it unnecessary, but it was also a lot of extra work. Before weaning, breast milk and formula poo is water soluble and therefore doesn’t even need rinsing from the nappy before being washed (provided you wash every other day). We popped the nappies straight in the nappy bin and let the rinse cycle take care of clearing it out before the wash.
Part of the reason we chose not to use liners in the end was because we were using Motherease Wizard Unos which are stay-dry topped so the moisture was wicking away and not leaving H’s bottom damp. Most pocket nappies, and some All in Ones & Twos have a similar feature with either a fleece or a stay dry layer on top meaning you could also avoid using a liner pre-weaning. The majority of fitted and flat nappies do not have this feature, so some parents choose to use a reusable liner to help keep Baby’s bottom nice and dry between changes.
Cleaning the liner
Once weaning has started, and this is from the very first bit of food, poo does need to be cleaned from the nappy before starting your wash routine. The reason for this is because there are often tiny bits of undigested food you may not be able to see which can get caught in your machine’s filter and cause blockages – which is something you don’t want to be having to clear!
There are many methods for clearing the poo from your liner/nappy, personally I choose sluicing. To sluice your liner you hold one end and dangle it in the flush of the toilet, in most cases this is strong enough to strip it all away, for the odd stubborn one I wipe it down with either a reusable wipe or toilet paper to get it off.
Other methods include:
The ‘poo-knife’ which is your typical kitchen spatula or spoon (although I would dedicate it to the toilet and not let it back into the kitchen), for scraping everything off
Pressurised spray bottles for rinsing
Rinsing with a shower head, this can either be in the toilet if it reaches, or into a bucket in the shower which then is tipped down the toilet
Bidet attachment to your toilet for rinsing
The weaning stage was the worst for me and I became very close to giving up cloth temporarily, during this I did use disposable liners to get me through. If you are going through this at the moment, do persevere, it wasn’t long before the poos became more pliable, and when they do there is nothing more satisfying than the plop into the water as they just peel off the liner with very little rinsing required. In fact I even remember our first ‘ploppable’ poo, when H had gone mere minutes after a change, however it remained entirely within the liner so all I needed to do was change this and I could reuse the same nappy – you can’t do that in a disposable!
As always if you have any questions about cloth nappies, liners or any other part of it, or if you are going through that tricky weaning stage and just want some moral support, I am always here. You can get hold of me through Instagram or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.