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Water Saving Tips & Tricks

buy cloth nappies south africa

With the recent spate of droughts and water restrictions in South Africa, saving water should be top priority for everyone. 

Q: Isn't it better to switch to disposables when faced with a drought?


A: Not necessarily. Consider that it takes more water to manufacture the amount of disposable nappies you would use in a month vs the amount of water you would use to wash cloth  nappies for the month. In fact in many cases the water used to manufacture disposables for a month is almost equal to the total monthly water usage of a household of four. That includes all laundry, cleaning, cooking and showering/bathing.

It takes 34 litres to manufacture 1 disposable nappy. (1) This translates to 6.1kl per month if you use 6 nappies per day. To wash those same nappies you would use 1.2kl per month.(2)

 

Bear in mind too that some disposable nappy manufacturing plants are located in drought areas too. 

 

So how can I save even more water when using cloth?

1. Use grey water to do the pre-rinse. You can catch grey water from the shower by placing buckets in the shower. Alternatively you can transfer your bathwater to buckets. The easiest option is to use the bucket & plunger method to rinse the nappies in the grey water. When you are done rinsing your nappies, this water can be reused again to flush your toilets. Alternatively, you can pour the water into your top loader to do a rinse in the machine. 

2. Catch grey water from the washing machine and reuse that water to flush your toilets or water your garden. 

3. Consider replacing your washing machine if you have an older model. Older models and especially top loaders tend to use a LOT of water to wash. Newer HE models and especially front loaders are much more water friendly. Other options to consider are a twin-tub or Sputnik. 

4. If you are using a nappy sprayer, consider hooking it up to a grey water system. Alternatively, try the bucket & plunger method using grey water to rinse poopy nappies. Remember the rubber gloves if you are using the bucket method! Spraying one nappy uses approximately the same amount of water as flushing a toilet. 

5. Hand washing often uses a lot less water than machine washing. Hand washing doesn't have to be difficult either - the bucket and plunger system is very effective and quite straight forward to use. You can do a spin cycle in the machine afterwards to skip wringing out by hand and speed up drying time.

References:

1) It takes approximately 9 gallons to manufacture one disposable nappy. Converted to litres, that is 34 litres. http://www.grovia.com/blog/washing-away-cloth-diaper-water-myth/

2) Assuming you have an HE (high efficiency) washing machine using 60l per wash cycle and you wash nappies 10 times per month.