Every month after the main podcast is recorded I sometimes manage to keep the girls in front of the microphone just a little longer to answer some listener questions.
This week we talk about Minky vs PUL, brushed vs unbrushed and other hot nappy debates.
Vicki Simpson is the current President of the Australian Nappy Association and has been advocating for and selling cloth nappies in Australia for over a decade. She is the owner, creator and Chief Nappy Nerd here at Bubblebubs. Vashti Wadwell is the outgoing Member Secretary of the Australian Nappy Association and is the owner of Australia’s first bricks and mortar nappy store, Nest Nappies, in Brisbane, Australia. Both Vicki and Vashti have used cloth nappies for more than a decade each over three children and turned their passion into a business.
Transcription: Questions and Answers November
Andrew: How are you doing, Vicki?
Vicki: Yeah, good.
Andrew: How are you doing, Vashti?
Vashti: Well, thanks Andrew, how are you today?
Andrew: Just as good as I was ten minutes ago [laughter].
Vashti: What, when I knocked at the front door?
Andrew: That’s right. No, when you knocked on the studio front door.
Vashti: Oh yes, well, you know, I didn’t say now.
Andrew: That’s true. Trying to create the illusion. So questions and answers episode. What are brushed and unbrushed inserts? And why do I need a brushed or unbrushed insert?
Vashti: It’s just a case of whether, quite literally, the bamboo fleece is, when it’s knitted, it kind of has a loop. So if it’s unbrushed, the circuits remain. If it’s brushed, they run like, I suppose, a slicker brush type thing over it, and it just uncut, or untangles the loops. There’s no difference.
Vicki: I didn’t know that I’ve learned something new today.
Vicki: Yeah. How cool is that?
Vashti: I was just about to swear, and realised I’m not allowed. The things we learn.
Andrew: No, we’ve beeped you before.
Vashti: Oh really?
Andrew: We beep you all the time. [beep]
Vashti: I don’t know. [laughter]
Vicki: Have you ever beeped me? That’s the question.
Andrew: Not for swearing, no.
Vicki: There you go.
Andrew: Just for stuff where I don’t like what you said.
Vicki: Oh fair enough, I’ll remember that.
Andrew: Not on the podcast though. [laughter]
Vashti: Could fill a trailer, is where I was going.
Andrew: Are minky and P.U.L. different?
Vashti: Yeah, they’re two different fibres.
Vicki: No, fabrics.
Vicki: Same fibre, different fabrics.
Vashti: I know what I’m talking about. They’re two different fabrics. They have a different feel. They both do the same thing, though. Same composition, same weight. Again, the way they’re produced is different, and actually, a similar process is, they kind of loop on the top of the fabric, and then they have almost like a hot knife, I guess, to go and cut all of those fibres off. Did you know that?
Vicki: I didn’t know they used a hot knife.
Vashti: Well, I could think of a better way to explain it, it’s not a hot knife, but it’s a blade, that mostly goes over the top and cuts all of those loops off, and makes it a cut pile. And with minky, you can get multiple different heights, depending on how…
Vicki: You can get different heights of minky. So you can get some that are super thick, and others that’s quite fine.
Vashti: And the shorter the pile, generally the softer it is.
Vashti: So one ml minky, no actually I lie, because one ml minky is almost a flat pile, and it kind of, it doesn’t, when you’re rubbing it, it doesn’t feel, but one and a half mile, that extra half a ml…
Vicki: It makes it super soft…
Vashti: …it makes a world of difference.
Vicki: …compared with the two ml, which is and pattable.
Vashti: But the longer the minky pile, the more it will mat in the wash as well. So that’s why when you see people say my minky nappies are in excellent condition, and then someone else’s isn’t, it will just be the length of the pile that is different. But they’re both laminated, I think, did I? We didn’t go to, I hadn’t managed to get a video of the lamination process, because we didn’t get to go to the laminating factory when we were in China.
Vicki: No, we didn’t.
Vashti: So we saw how they printed fabric.
Vicki: We did the print, we didn’t do the lamination.
Vashti: The lamination is pretty much the same thing. I explain it like contact. So it is a contact. Polyurethane laminate is like a contract that is then glued onto the fabric. The lack of it, apparently it’s not, but that is a visual representation of what they do.
Andrew: OK, here’s a curly one for you. Do I have to fold the nappies and put them away [background snorts]? And if I don’t is it sorry for them? [laughter]
Vashti: I advocate for mental health.
Andrew: Somebody is way overthinking this.
Vicki: How about, gosh, were our nappies ever put away? I had this beautiful set up in the nursery, and then I had my washing basket sitting beside the nappy. ..
Vashti: So with our first two, Brett would regularly put the nappies together. He’d put them together in front of the T.V. at night while I was putting kids to bed. Because I usually fall asleep putting one of them to bed. I never got back up again.
Andrew: to interrupt you. While he’s doing that, if he runs out of nappies, does he start then doing socks?
Andrew: Stops at nappies?
Andrew: Have you tried putting socks in front of him?
Vicki: So you’re thinking he was mindlessly doing it while watching T.V.?
Andrew: Yeah, he was watching T.V., and he just wanted to get some stuff done while he was watching T.V.
Vicki: Do you know, to be honest, that’s actually how I prepped the nappies for the expo. And in fact, I get the kids to do it as well. Because you know, what’s the Ferengi rule of acquisition?
Andrew: Exploitation starts at home.
Vicki: Exactly. So the kids snap nappies together for the expo. But I do, I sit there in front of the T.V. and fasten the nappies together. So when you see them all beautifully presented at the expo, now you know. Vicki sat there, and binge-watched, what was that last one? You didn’t tell me it wasn’t finished.
Vashti: The Truth About Harry Quebert?
Vicki: You didn’t tell me. I’m watching it on a weekly basis. I watched the first few episodes, and now I’m watching it on a weekly basis. So for anyone, be careful if you start binge-watching this. It’s not finished, and now I have to wait a whole week for my next episode. I’m filthy at you for that.
Vashti: For the nanny, I always put the nappies together and put them away in the change table, because it was easier for them. But if we were on holidays, the nappies were generally in the basket, next to the change table.
Andrew: Wait for a second, you just wanted to make a good impression on the nanny?
Vashti: No, I just wanted to make it easy for her, because she didn’t use cloth nappies.
Vicki: Well it also depends. You had multiple brands, whereas we just pretty much had a couple of different types.
Andrew: We had a lot of brands.
Vicki: No, we didn’t.
Andrew: We had the stuffed ones, and we had them…
Vicki: We had two shark nappies that were pocket nappies…
Vicki: …that you refused to use.
Andrew: I know, I don’t like, I’ve said it on the podcast before, I don’t like stuffing nappies.
Vicki: We hardly ever used them anyway, but pretty much, they were the one type of nappy, they were an all in two nappy that, so you’ve got a whole basket full of the same nappy. So it’s a little bit different if you’ve got quite a varied stash, and you’ve got to find an insert for the nappy.
Vashti: We had a very varied stash.
Andrew: to branch off a little bit, those shark nappies did look good.
Vicki: They did! Why do you think I had them?
Andrew: Is the person still making them?
Vicki: They were the Raps?
Vashti: Raaps, yes.
Vicki: It was a New Zealand work at home mum, and we made a trade. I did lots of trades. You’re thinking the younger kids. Sorry, the older kids. I had, especially for Arabella, I did lots and lots and lots of trades with different work at home mums. I had some beautiful Beetlebums, which I found the other day. I’ve still got my Beetlebums. So we’d trade nappies, and Andrew hated it every single time. He’s like, what’s this?
Andrew: Because it was different nappies. I want just the same.
Vicki: Yeah, but you get bored. I’ve been making this stuff for such a long time. It was something different.
Andrew: I like consistency. So all those mothers out there get the same nappy, so your husband doesn’t get confused.
Vashti: Didn’t we say, get a couple of different types?
Vicki: Try a few different things and find what works for you.
Andrew: Try them, decide on the one you want, then buy those. Whatever brand that is. Don’t confuse the poor guy.
Vicki: Or girl.
Andrew: Or girl. Correct. But if it was me, it’s a guy. I mean, it’s a girl.
Vicki: I think you’ve just confused yourself. See why he needs all the one type of nappy?
Andrew: [laughs] That’s true. I’m trying to read the next question while you’re talking to me. It’s challenging because sometimes I understood the problem and then go, I’m not going to ask that. Should I store my nappies between children?
Vashti: It depends if you want the same ones for your next child. It depends, it’s the consumerism versus the practicality.
Vicki: We had some of our nappies stored. I always recommend, if you are going to put your nappies away, there’s a couple of ways to do it. Make sure they’re in a dark, dry place. So you can put them in vacuum sealed bags in the back of a cupboard if you want. If you’re going to put them in a vacuum sealed bag and suck all the air out of them, take the inserts out, and lay the shells flat, and don’t stretch them out, because you don’t want the [inaudible word, over talking, 08:50]
Vashti: And also, get some of those little sachet things that you get in shoes and stuff.
Vicki: The silica gel.
Vashti: That’s it, yeah.
Vicki: Tissue paper is another one. The reason that…
Vashti: Absorbs moisture.
Vicki: …wedding dresses are always stored in tissue paper is because they help absorb any excess moisture. Make sure your nappies are clean and super dry. So don’t put them away if there’s even a hint of dampness in them, because they will go mouldy.
Andrew: Critical like today it’s a wet day today, while we’re recording this.
Vashti: I wouldn’t be, like storing today.
Vicki: No, don’t pack them away today.
Andrew: So it’s even that critical if it’s a wet, humid day?
Vicki: Yeah, because there could be dampness, like some moisture in the nappy, because there’s moisture in the air.
Andrew: So those little sachets that keep the moisture out, but that’s what’s in disposables.
Vicki: Silica gel, yeah, pretty much.
Andrew: Just put a disposable in there?
Andrew: To keep your cloth nappies dry.
Vicki: Haven’t tried that.
Vashti: I stored my nappies because I still had some nappies from when Mikayla was a baby, that I used on Kylan, so that’s seven years between Mikayla and Kylan. And any of those nappies that I had, they were just in roller tubs, and I just had them all stacked up neat and tidy in a roller tub, and hidden under a bed. And the reason I still had them for seven years was that I hadn’t cleaned out underneath that bed.
Vicki: Well, I just threw them in a box. I never did anything fancy-dancy with them. Some of the items went, some of them didn’t.
Vashti: I had some…
Vicki: Elastic is the Achilles heel of all cloth nappies, and what I expect of my nappies is that you’ll get a child out of the nappies, come toilet training, you may or may not need to replace the elastics. There are so many variables if you think of what breaks down. Rubber is heat and bacteria, which is pretty much the perfect storm when you’re talking about washing wet and poopy nappies. So I don’t think anyone has ever discovered precisely what makes elastic go. But if you have the expectation that you’ll get a child out of them, and you may find, even when you do all of the right things, you may still need to replace some elastics. Then any that survive that are doing well. As I said, these Beetlebums, Arabella’s ten, and the elastics are still perfectly fine. I’ve still got some nappies that I made, again for Bella. The elastics are still fine. I’ve got some that I had for Gabriel where the elastic is entirely shot. And you know what? They weren’t treated any differently. They were all treated just as poorly as each other.
Vashti: I have some nappies that I was able to use on all three of my kids. And I have other nappies that each one of my kids…
Vicki: And same brands, too.
Vashti: Yep, the same brands.
Vicki: It’s not even like it’s a brand thing or the way they use. Generally what I tend to find is elastics will go on your favourite nappies, because they’re the ones that you’re using straight out of the wash, and they’re the ones that are sitting in the nappy bucket the longest…
Vashti: Didn’t we work this out earlier?
Vicki: …before washing. So they’re sitting in that perfect storm of warmth and bacteria the longest. Because it’s always the first one you grab out.
Vashti: There you go, there’s a theory that’s causation doesn’t equal, sorry, what is it? Correlation doesn’t equal causation.
Vicki: It is just our theory.
Vashti: That makes sense.
Andrew: Yes, it does.
Vashti: That’s it.
Andrew: I think we’re out of time.
Vashti: Again, because we talk about stuff that isn’t the question. Sorry. Do you care, guys?
Vicki: Let us know if you care. If you do care, we’ll stick to…
Andrew: No, no, send your questions. Keep posting your questions too, because I’m looking at my list. I’m starting to run out of problems here. So send me some more questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. And if you think Vashti and Vicki ramble on about unrelated things too much, post a comment to email@example.com.
Vicki: That’s the same address.
Andrew: Yes it is.
Vashti: There you go. So if you’ve got anything you want to tell us…
Vicki: It all goes to the same address.
Vashti: …it all goes to the same address. Feedback@nappyleaks.com.
Andrew: That’s it.
Vashti: There’s no dot au?
Andrew: No, no, because…
Vicki: Too tight to buy the dot at.
Vashti: There you go.
Andrew: No, not too tight to buy the dot au, we’re an international podcast.
Vashti: There you go.
Andrew: People listen to us all over the world.
Vicki: If you want to tell us anything if you like what we’re doing, and if you’re getting some joy out of it, and want to give us back, we love pats on the back, let us know. If you hate what we’re doing and you think…
Vashti: Constructive feedback, guys, constructive feedback is always well taken.
Andrew: If you don’t like what you’re doing, press stop. We don’t care. [laughter] Alrighty, thanks, Vicki.
Vicki: Thanks, Andrew.
Andrew: Thank you, Vashti.
Vashti: Thanks, Andrew.
Andrew: Bye, everybody.
Andrew: Vicki Simpson is the current President of the Australian Nappy Association, and has been making and selling cloth nappies for 13 years. You can contact Vicki through her website, Bubblebubs.com.au or all 13 792 232.
Vashti Wadwell is the Member Secretary of the Australian Nappy Association and is the owner of Australia’s first bricks and mortar nappy story, Nest Nappies, in Brisbane, Australia. She has been using cloth nappies for 12 years, and currently has one child still in nappies. You can contact Vashti through her website, nestnappies.com.au or phone 07 3217 5200.
If you have any comments about the podcast, you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you found this podcast helpful, then the way to thank us is to leave feedback in the iTunes store. I am your host, Andrew Simpson.