Before disposable nappies were invented in the 1940s, cloth nappies were the only option for parents. Cloth nappies during this time were made from simple materials such as cotton, linen, or wool, and often held together with safety pins.
Traditionally, cloth diapers consisted of a folded square or rectangle of linen cloth, cotton flannel, or stockinette, which was fastened with safety pins. Today, this type of diaper is referred to as a flat. The flat was commonly used in the late 1800s in Europe, North America and parts of Africa.
In the early part of the 20th century, cloth users were boiling diapers as they became aware of bacteria. During World War II, the increase of working mothers brought the need for the "diaper service". Fresh cotton diapers would be delivered on an as-needed basis.
In 1946, a Westport, Connecticut housewife named Marion Donovan, invented the "Boater", a waterproof covering for cloth diapers. Marion was granted 4 patents for her designs, including the use of plastic snaps that replaced the traditional and dangerous "safety pins".
In 1950, the prefold diaper was invented by a diaper service owner and produced by Curity. The prefold diaper consisted of a standard "flat" diaper, but pre-folded and sewn together. Also in 1950, the Safe-T Di-Dee diaper was invented. The diaper was preformed and was the first pinless, snap-on diaper- this was the first fitted diaper. It was invented by Sybil Geeslin (Kennedy) who subsequently sold the patent. They were then sold as Keystone Safe-T Di-Dee Diapers and were nationally distributed.
However, as the industrial revolution took hold, cloth nappies began to change which led to significant changes in the production of cloth nappies. In the late 1800s, the first machine-made cloth nappies were introduced, which revolutionized the way cloth nappies were manufactured. These machine-made nappies were easier to produce and allowed for the mass production of nappies at a lower cost.
In the mid-1900s, with the introduction of disposable nappies, cloth nappies fell out of favor. However, the disposable nappies has a negative impact on the environment, as they take hundreds of years to decompose. Disposable nappies are one of the largest contributors to landfill waste, taking up to 500 years to decompose. Cloth nappies, on the other hand, can be used for up to three years and can be washed and reused, significantly reducing waste.
Additionally, the production of disposable nappies requires a significant amount of resources, including wood pulp, water, and energy. In contrast, cloth nappies have a much lower environmental impact, as they can be washed and reused, reducing the need for production and transportation.
Thus, in the 1990s, cloth nappies made a comeback due to environmental concerns and an increased awareness of the benefits of reusable nappies. This led to a resurgence in cloth nappies, as more and more parents became concerned about the environmental impact of disposable nappies.
In 1987, the Snappi, a diaper faster is invented by Henni Vissner in South Africa. In 2007, another housewife from Denver, Colorado named Julie Ekstrom, invented the double inner gussets for cloth diapers. Her first patent was published April 23, 2013. By February 2019, Julie had been granted 4 patents for her inventions.
Today, cloth nappies come in a wide variety of styles and designs. Modern cloth nappies are made from materials like bamboo, hemp, and organic cotton, which are more eco-friendly than traditional cotton. They are also much more absorbent and comfortable than their ancient counterparts. They come in a range of designs, from simple squares of fabric that are folded and secured with a safety pin to fitted nappies that have elasticated legs and waistbands for a snug fit.
Cloth nappies have come a long way, and they continue to evolve as more parents choose them as a sustainable and cost-effective alternative to disposable nappies.
Cloth nappies have been around for thousands of years, and they continue to be a popular choice for parents who want to make a positive impact on the environment. As we move towards a more sustainable future, cloth nappies are sure to play an important role in reducing our impact on the planet.