FAQ Topics

    Here is a library of frequently asked questions as a resource to accompany your reusable nappy journey.

      Top questions

      Yes. Pop us an email at the nappyemporium@gmail.com and lets set up a time. See our website and social media pages for pop-up stores.

      Ahhhh, everyone asks this, and truly there is no answer! Nappies are like jeans: each person's lifestyle, body shape and budget is different. We always recommend that you try out a few different nappies that appeal to you so that you get an idea of what you would like to build your collection with. You may well surprise yourself.

      Beginner basics

      Modern reusable nappies (also called cloth nappies, washable nappies or real nappies) are totally different to the cloth nappies of bygone generations. With no need for soaking, modern reusables are so easy to use and are an increasingly popular choice for many parents. Clever size-adjustable design means you can use the same nappies right through from birth to potty. Compared to disposables you can expect to save about R10,000 so cloth makes an appealing investment. Reusable nappies are good for the environment, good for your pocket, and good for baby too - not to mention pretty stylish!

      You will need between 20 and 24 nappies if you want to go reusable full time, plus a few other bits and pieces which help make things easier.

      There's no getting away from it, poo is unavoidable whether you use disposables or cloth. Luckily liners are at hand to make dealing with poo much easier. Liners are designed to catch the poo while letting the wee pass through into the nappy. Simply lift the liner out and it can be thrown in the bin or flushed down the loo.

      No. Soaking will damage bamboo fibres. Modern reusable nappies should be stored in a dry bucket until wash day.

      Washing modern cloth nappies is very simple. Always follow the specific wash care instructions on the label, but as a general guide put a full load of nappies into the washing machine (to maximise agitation) and run a rinse cycle. Add detergent and set your machine to the longest wash cycle at 40 to 60 degrees. Remember to never use fabric softener or a 2 in 1 detergent as this inhibits the nappies' absorbency. Finally, dry your nappies on the line - sunshine does wonders for stains and is antibacterial too.

      The same amount you would need to change disposables. All babies are different, but in general newborn babies need changing at least eight times a day. Fortunately as they get older this reduces!

      Yes, they will need up to eight washes before getting up to full absorbency. Just put them in with your normal laundry, (white with white, colour with colours) no need to dry in between. You can use them after the first wash if you can’t wait.

      Not really, it’s up to you. If you do decide to use a cream we recommend you use a cloth safe cream, that dissolves in detergent. If you prefer to use a cream that is not "cloth safe" we recommend using reusable fleece liners to keep it off the nappies. These creams can build up in the nappies/fleece liners which can be difficult to get off and can cause absorption problems.

      Yes, the cover interior can be wiped clean and used again. If it becomes soiled it needs to be washed. This makes two-part nappy systems (flats or fitted) an economical option.

      Ways to shop

      Yes. Pop us an email at the nappyemporium@gmail.com and lets set up a time. See our website and social media pages for pop-up stores.

      Yes, we deliver across South Africa using our reliable courier. Delivery fees are calculated at checkout. We don't add any charges here, we simply pass the delivery cost on to you.

      Yes. Select the "collection" option at checkout. When your order is ready to collect we will contact you with the details.

      Yes, you can purchase gift vouchers for any amount from the online shop. We will send an electronic gift voucher to you by email and to your gift recipient too if you wish.

      We love helping people to celebrate baby's arrival! We can help with gift vouchers, nappy braais, setting up a gift registry or planning your wish list.

      Gift Vouchers are great if you're not entirely sure what you would like/need when baby arrives. Alternatively you may like to give your friends and family a "Wish List" of items you would like to receive. We can also arrange to deliver the gifts to you all in one go ready for your celebration/baby's arrival. Please simply contact us by email to let us know that your friends have your wish list and we will make sure that we have all your details to send you your parcel of gifts when it is complete. Your friends can select the free delivery option at checkout. As usual, delivery for total parcels over R2,500 is free; for smaller parcels there will be a delivery fee for you to pay.

      You are also welcome to get in touch if you would like some help/ideas planning your nappy collection, or come and see us on one of our open days - we will gladly show you the different options!

      Product Range

      Let us know - we are always keen to know what new products you would like to see on our shelves!

      No, we purely stock infant nappies.

      Nappy Components

      There is a lot of terminology which can sound confusing but ultimately all cloth nappies are fairly similar. They all have an absorbent core and a waterproof outer like a disposable nappy, it's simply the style that varies. The "nappy" is the absorbent bit inside which absorbs the wee and contains the poo. The nappy can either be shaped or a flat square that needs to be folded.

      The waterproof bit on the outside which keeps clothes dry.

      Boosters provide extra absorbency. Especially useful at night, but also handy during the day to help you tailor the nappy's absorbency to your baby.

      Disposable paper liners or washable fleece liners are a nifty addition to any nappy - they catch any poo while letting wee pass through to the nappy. By no means necessary, but liners do make dealing with poo much easier.

      A plastic bucket or other container to store soiled nappies at home until they go into the wash. A typical laundry basket works well.

      A mesh laundry bag to line the nappy bucket is a nice item to have and makes life easier. When the bucket is full simply lift the whole bag (open) into the washing machine to save you handling the nappies.

      A waterproof bag to store soiled nappies when you're out. Not essential but certainly very handy.

      The washable cousin of the disposable wet wipe. So very easy and pretty much our favourite thing by far!

      Washing & drying nappies

      Honestly, it is very easy! Nappies get washed like regular laundry, all you need to remember is:

      • Never use fabric softener or 2 in 1 detergents (inhibits nappy absorbency)
      • Put a full load in the machine (maximises agitation)
      • Put nappies on the very longest wash cycle

      But of course this all starts with the nappy change. The sections below will walk you through the steps.

      Much like bath towels, nappies need to be washed several times before they reach full absorbency. Your new nappies will need up to 10 washes before they reach their maximum absorbency. You needn't dry them between washes. The nappies can be worn after one wash but remember that they may not hold as much liquid so be patient.

      When you change baby simply take off the nappy and lift out the liner if you have chosen to use one. If your nappy has velcro fastenings then now is the moment to remember to fold down the laundry tabs to protect the velcro in the wash. Place the nappy in your nappy bucket or wet bag. We recommend you line your nappy storage bucket with a mesh pail liner, which is like a very big bin liner. When it's time to do the laundry you can simply lift the bag out of the bucket and place it in the washing machine - no need to touch the nappies. (Just remember to leave the bag open so the nappies can be released in the wash.)

      Modern reusable nappies do not need to be soaked. In fact, soaking will damage bamboo fibres and the waterproofing on covers. Cloth nappies can be stored for up to three days in a dry bucket until wash day. Any longer and the ammonia in urine will destroy bamboo fibres. If a nappy is soiled you may want to rinse it before you place it in the bucket.

      Please remember that soaking your nappies in bleach, vinegar, bicarbonate of soda, or any other harsh stain removers is never ever recommended. These will damage your nappies and will invalidate any product guarantee given by the manufacturer. Bamboo is an especially delicate fabric and is particularly susceptible to harsh treatments.

      Put a full load of nappies in the washing machine. It is important that the load is full so that the nappies are sufficiently agitated in the wash (you are aiming for 3/4 full when the load is wet so that there is still enough room for everything to swish about and get rinsed). If you don’t have a full load of nappies to wash add a few small towels or anything else that could do with a good long wash to make up the load.

      Run a cold rinse cycle, so that any leftover solids and urine are flushed away.

      Set your machine on the longest cycle setting - at least two hours. Normally the cotton cycle uses more water than the synthetics cycle. If you have an extra water option on your machine choose that too. Bear in mind that you're filling the drum with items that can hold a large amount of liquid, so it needs plenty of water going through to clean and rinse them properly.

      Add your detergent. Powder is generally thought to give a better clean, but this is not essential. What is essential is that you never use fabric softener because it leaves a coating on the nappies which inhibits their absorbency. With this in mind watch out for detergents with ‘built in’ softener, sometimes called "2 in 1".

      When dosing your detergent remember that less is always more. At the end of the wash there should be no foam and your nappies should come out of the machine smelling of nothing. If you can still smell detergent it's a sign you've used too much. It's important to be aware of this because when detergent starts to build up in your nappies this can cause skin reactions, fabric damage and a strong smell. If on the other hand your nappies don't smell clean then it will be down to either: needing a longer wash cycle, the drum being over full, wrong detergent dose, or your machine might need a maintenance cycle running.

      Wash the nappies at 40 to 60 degrees - but always double check the manufacturer's wash label on your particular nappies.

      Drying on the line is perfect - the sun naturally bleaches out stains - but a clothes airer is a great alternative too.

      You can tumble dry inserts/boosters on a low heat, but remember that covers cannot go in the drier because this will damage the waterproofing. Many people like to give their inserts/booster a short tumble on a low heat because they find it helps soften them up, but do remember that regular tumble drying will shorten their lifespan.

      Depending on how hard the water is in your area, all nappies will gradually become stiffer than they were when you first got them. If you don't have a tumble drier you can rub the fabric together in your hands and this will help soften them up. If you feel the nappies are still too stiff then use a fleece liner which creates a super soft layer on baby's bottom.

      If you find your nappies have developed a strong smell, especially when they become wet, it is likely that detergent/ammonia from urine has built up in your nappies. Don't worry, help is at hand. It means you need to fine tune your laundry routine, but first it is time to do a "strip wash" to remove those residues. There are many versions of "strip washing" out there, including using Sunlight liquid, dishwasher tablets, vinegar, or even bleach. We do not recommend any of these. These substances can destroy fabrics and so should never be used with modern reusable nappies. Here is how we always recommend you strip wash: Ensure your machine is clean. You should run a maintenance cycle once a month. If you haven't done this lately run this first and check your machine filters are clean. Next put the nappies through a rinse cycle only with NO detergent. If your machine doesn't have a rinse only cycle use a cool quick wash. This is to get them nice and wet already so there is more water held in them for the main washes. Next wash using a FULL dose of detergent and wash at 60 degrees on a long cycle (about 2.5 to 3 hours) and ideally additional water (sensitive or sometimes called super rinse) No need to dry in between for the second wash, use 60 degrees on the longest possible wash as above with NO detergent and ideally additional water (sensitive or sometimes called super rinse) Finally put your nappies through a rinse cycle again as in step 1. If you see any detergent bubbles in the rinse keep on rinsing until you don't see any more. This should sort them for the short term. Preventing detergent build up: Detergent build up comes about for a combination of reasons. It is likely you have been a bit over zealous with your detergent. Washing machines are also highly water efficient these days so there is less water flushing through them. Too much detergent and too little water can mean detergent builds up in the fabric. After you have done your strip wash, follow these laundry tips to prevent this happening again: Try rinsing soiled nappies before they go in the bucket to loosen the dirt. Run a cold rinse cycle before you wash. Set machine to the longest main wash cycle setting. Avoid overfilling the machine - the drum should be no more than 3/4 full when wet. Fuller than this and the nappies won't have enough room to agitate and get clean. Use less detergent. A good starting point is to check the detergent dose for your load (not quite full) and water hardness. Go from there and adjust as necessary. Remember, your nappies shouldn't smell of detergent at the end of the wash. Ensure you run a maintenance cycle on your machine monthly.

      Sunshine has a wonderful knack for removing stains so dry your nappies outside on the line as often as possible. Just make sure not to leave covers in direct sunlight as this will damage the waterproofing. In fact, covers dry incredibly quickly so there is no need to leave them in the sun at all.

      To prevent staining your nappies in the first place avoid using nappy creams that contain zinc, an ingredient which can blacken the inside of the nappy. Always use a cloth safe nappy cream in combination with a liner to prevent the cream from clogging up the nappy and inhibiting absorbency. Nappy liners in themselves are great at minimising staining. Both disposable paper liners and washable fleece liners help stop poos from coming into direct contact with the nappy.

      Newborn nappies

      As a first time cloth parent the options and terminology can be extremely overwhelming. The truth is that every cloth parent started somewhere and we all felt the same way! The best way to understand the different options, is to see them, feel them and fit them onto our resident teddy bear! Come visit us. Send an email to thenappyemporium@gmail.com so we can show you the various options available. 

      Night time nappies

      For a child who is sleeping through the night nappy needs to stand up for 12 to 14 hours. To achieve that level of performance relies on having both the right absorbency and a good cover (the waterproof bit). We recommend you use a purpose-designed night time nappy, which will generally comprise of: A fitted hemp/bamboo/cotton nappy (very thirsty) A night time booster (to increase absorbency) A reliable cover for night time (all our covers are made from PUL which is both waterproof and breathable).

      A fleece liner is by no means essential, but it does help at night because it allows fluid to wick through to the absorbent core of the nappy while maintaining a staydry layer against baby's bottom.

      As with all nappies, the key to avoiding leaks is to make sure you have sufficient boosters, and to check everything is tucked inside the cover. A few notes on boosters: You will normally need more boosting at night than you do during the day because the nappy will be on for much longer. You can use a purpose-designed bamboo or hemp booster, or alternatively you can use a bamboo/cotton/hemp flat square folded into a pad, or even a muslin (less absorbent, but very large, so roughly equivalent). Place night time absorbency at the front for a boy (or front sleeper) or between the legs for a girl. Alternatively, to make the nappy less bulky at any particular point, you can put the boosting along the length of the nappy.

      Flat nappies



      You would be hard pressed to find a parent who hasn't experienced the occasional leak, whether using disposables or reusables, but this shouldn't be the norm. If your nappies are leaking take a look at the level of absorbency and the fit. You may need to add a booster pad for more absorbency, and if baby is a heavy wetter you may simply need to change nappies a little more frequently. Check that the nappy is fitted correctly with no gaps at the legs. You may need to adjust the "rise" snaps (height) at the front and the waist fastening to get a snugger fit.

      It is also important to check that everything is tucked inside the waterproof nappy cover. Stray inserts sticking out of the nappy are likely to wick moisture onto clothes. Opt for loose clothes; anything unnecessarily tight could compress the nappy and squeeze moisture out.

      Delivery & Returns

      Refunds can only be given if you have bought the nappies directly from The Nappy Emporium. Please note: Postage charges are not eligible for refund. Goods must be returned within 28 days of purchase date. They must be in original condition and packaging, unwashed and unused. It is the customer's responsibility to return the goods to The Nappy Emporium. Return postage is payable by the customer. Recorded delivery is advisable as The Nappy Emporium cannot be held responsible for goods going missing in the post. Please note The Nappy Emporium will not refund goods that have been washed or used unless they are deemed to be faulty by us.

      Read more information about delivery and returns.

      We are passionate about being as environmentally friendly as possible by reducing single-use plastic and unnecessary packaging. We expect that you feel the same way, since you're shopping for reusable nappies which are the most eco friendly option by far!

      • Where possible we try to avoid the use of unnecessary packaging. We do however want your items to arrive with you in good condition, so we try to ensure that anything fragile or which might leak is well packaged.
      • Where packaging is needed, your items will be tied with biodegradable raffia and enclosed in a recyclable paper bag.
      • Where possible we try to re-use packaging that is in good condition, such as cardboard boxes and bubble wrap.

      Some online deliveries are sent inside a plastic flyer bag, although we are increasingly moving towards cardboard. We do try to re-use flyer bags if they are in good condition and perhaps you will too - they make excellent bin liners!

      It goes without saying that we re-use/recycle as much of our waste as possible, and we are always looking to expand the number of products sourced from local manufacturers too so that we can offer you great options that carry lower transport emissions.

      At our showroom we can offer you an unbleached paper bag although lots of people turn up with their own reusable shopping bag! We like to go easy on display packaging and likewise we are mindful about our labelling, opting for small paper labels rather than plastic.

      Something else

      We get a large amount of requests for donations and sponsorships and unfortunately we simply cannot assist everybody. We currently support two children's homes in the local area.

      Discover the best cloth nappies for your baby today

      Johannesburg’s specialist reusable nappy shop offers a range of SA’s most popular cloth nappy brands and free tailored advice all in one place. Shop online or contact us to set up an appointment. Gift Registry is available.

      Shopping Basket