Guide to buying secondhand reusable nappies

Advice on buying reusables secondhand, plus where you can purchase pre-loved cloth nappies.

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Using cloth nappies – also called reusable nappies or washable nappies – is a great way to save money, but you need to buy quite a lot just to get started, and the initial cost can be off-putting. One good way to try different types without spending too much or to set up for less cash is to buy your nappies secondhand. Here are some of the things you need to know.

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Why buy or sell secondhand reusable nappies?

Reason 1 – the world of reusable nappies can be confusing

There are lots of different types and brands of reusable nappies, and you won’t know which will work best for your lifestyle and your baby until you’ve tried some. Buying a few different nappies secondhand means you can try them without spending a lot of money, then buy more of the ones you like best.

Reason 2 – it’s cheap!

There are loads of mums selling on their used nappies, and lots of competition means low prices, so there are real bargains to be had.

Reason 3 – it’s green

Buying secondhand is even more environmentally sound than buying new ones. The old ones don’t go to waste, and new ones don’t need to be produced.

Reason 4 – cloth nappies may not be for you

If you’ve spent £200 on a birth-to-potty reusable nappy pack and decide to switch to disposables, you’ll be gutted – and out-of-pocket! Getting a few used nappies and seeing what you think is a good first step. If you’ve bought that birth-to-potty pack, though, it’s good to know that you can make some of your money back by selling it on!

Reason 5 – the nappies may be unused

If you don’t like the idea of using nappies that someone else has used first, this doesn’t mean you can’t buy second hand. Many mums buy a whole stash of nappies and never use them, or only use some, while others are always selling barely-used nappies on to fund their urge to buy the latest, trendiest brand.

Is it hygienic to buy secondhand reusable nappies?

Machine washing nappies with detergent kills all the bacteria, so you don’t need to have any concerns about the hygiene aspects of secondhand cloth nappies.

It’s a good idea to give the nappies a good wash when you get them though, as they may have been stored for a while and need freshening up, or the seller might have used a washing liquid or powder that doesn’t agree with your baby’s skin.

Where can you buy secondhand reusable nappies?

Perhaps more than any other secondhand market, the used cloth nappy business is very much based on trust. Most of the websites listed below are linked to chat forums where mums swap tips and advice, and it’s really frowned upon to abuse the system by selling nappies that aren’t in good condition, not sending nappies when you say you will, or not describing the nappies accurately. But as with anything you buy on a website selling secondhand items, it’s a smart idea to check the website’s complaints policy before you buy anything.

Some of the most popular sites selling used nappies include:

  • Local nearly new boards on sites like Facebook are also an option. You might find someone near you selling nappies and be able to avoid paying postage.

eBay has a blanket policy on what they can and can’t sell. The eBay rules on cloth nappies state: “Used underwear including, but not limited to, boxer shorts, panties, briefs, athletic supporters and cloth nappies is not permitted. Listings that contain inappropriate descriptions will be ended.”

eBay doesn’t check every listing, but it can be a hassle to list something then have to remove it, so you’re better off following the rules and using another site. Plus, because of the eBay rule, most people buying and selling cloth nappies will visit other sites instead and you’ll get more choice if you do the same.

What buying tips should you remember?

  • Read the description carefully. Most websites use terms like “excellent used condition”, “good used condition” or “well used”, sometimes abbreviated to EUC, GUC etc. The descriptions usually include whether there are any poppers missing, or how well the Velcro (or aplix) works. Most sites let you ask questions of the seller, too, so you can find out all you need to know.
  • Make an offer. Nappies should be priced according to their condition, but it’s worth trying to haggle a bit!
  • Most used nappy websites have pictures. The mums selling the nappies sometimes upload images of the products. This means you can see for yourself if the nappies are worn or stained.
  • Get a Paypal account. Most nappy sellers use Paypal, and it makes paying for your nappies much more straightforward.
  • Ask what the price includes. If the advert doesn’t tell you, ask whether the price includes postage, and whether the seller will add Paypal fees on to the price. Also ask what postage service the seller uses and whether you’ll be covered if the nappy gets lost in the post.
  • Remember that nappies do gradually deteriorate with washing and drying. There’s no question that you’ll get more wear out of brand new ones.  If you know what kind you want, are sure you’ll keep using them, and you plan to use them with more than one baby, then buying new ones rather than second and may be a decent investment.
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