Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Common Myths about Cloth Diapers

OK, so in the reader survey, someone mentioned that they would like me to talk about cloth diapering (if you take a look at my banner, you will see Peanut is wearing a cloth diaper in that pic). I've always wanted to write about it actually, but I am not an expert, and just sort of figure it out as I go. But then I realized that I write a lot about pregnancy, and parenting, and life in general, and I am definitely no expert on those things. In fact, the only thing I am an expert at is figuring things out as I go. So, why the heck am I not writing about my cloth diapering experience?! So, now I am. 

I only cloth diaper part-time. During the day, he wears cloth. At night and during laundry day, it's disposables. So I have a really good grasp of both worlds. For some reason, this seems to be one of those topics in mommy-land that really polarizes people. To be honest, I'm not sure why. I can sort of understand why people get so worked up some issues, but this one never really makes sense to me. Why do you care if I use cloth diapers and you don't? So strange...And I really don't judge people that use disposables. Because I use them too. So that would just be hypocritical of me to be all Judgy Judgerson and high-horsey about it...

So anyway, if you aren't familiar with someone that uses cloth diapers today, you might not have a good idea about them. So, here is a list of the most common things I hear when I tell people I use cloth. 

1. Ew! It's so gross! You have to touch poop/put poop in your washing machine/store poopy diapers in a bag, etc. 

OK, I admit this was one that I thought too. I figured it wouldn't be that bad, but after the first time using a cloth diaper, I thought "why did I choose this?!?!" and was instantly regretting the amount of money I spent on building up a stash. But in actuality, it is not any grosser than using disposables. Disposables don't magically make poop disappear. It's still there. And if you are touching poop with cloth diapers, then you are touching it with disposables too. The only time I touch poop is when Peanut decides he isn't quite finished and poops all over my hand while changing him. Although I also touch poop when he has a blowout from his disposable diapers too...they always leak through his sleepers. Ick. 

The washing machine thing is interesting. Because it makes me wonder what people do if someone vomits all over their clothes, or there is an inevitable pooplosion that no child is immune from. Do you not just toss the dirty clothes in the washing machine? So how is it any different from washing dirty diapers? Plus, I use soap to wash them, so they get clean. Which means the washer gets clean too. And any solid poops get dumped in the toilet. It's not like you just throw the whole shebang in the washer, lumps and all. (By the way, most people don't do this, but you are also supposed to dump poops into the toilet when you are using disposable diapers too, as fecal matter is human waste and can present a biohazard in our landfills...the more you know.)

2. But cloth diapers are so expensive/your hydro bill's increase will negate any savings

Yes, cloth diapers are expensive. For the cost of 1 diaper you can probably get a small pack of disposables. However, once you make the initial investment, you don't pay anything more except for laundry costs. That means you may spend a couple hundred dollars up front to build up a stash, but then you don't have to buy any more. Which means in the long run, you are most likely saving money. We definitely are. The amount of times we need to change Peanut's diapers in a day, we go through at least a pack of disposables a week if we only use them and no cloth. That's roughly $80/month for diapers. I bought our stash for about $200 (most of mine were used or from discounts and sales). So we broke even a long time ago. And to be honest, I don't notice a massive spike in our utility bills. The amount of money you are actually billed for usage is the smallest part of the whole bill. The huge costs are all fees and the like, which don't change with how much water you use. 

3. It's so much worse for the environment. Think of all those harsh chemicals you have to use. Not to mention the amount of water wasted since you don't do a full load.

OK, this one is a bit frustrating to me, and people who say this usually don't have an idea of what modern cloth diapering looks like. There is no way that I use any harsh chemicals. In fact, harsh chemicals are bad for both the diapers, and for my baby's bum. Most cloth diapering-safe detergents are all-natural. At the very least, they are more gentle than your common washing detergents. Because if you have any buildup from the detergent on the diapers, they don't absorb well anymore. And I don't use bleach. How do I get stains out then? I dry the diapers in the sun. Really, it works like a charm. It's the coolest thing! Try it next time you have a stain. I was super skeptical, but it works every time. In regards to not doing a full load, I have a High Efficiency washing machine, so it only uses the amount of water it needs to based on weight. Sure, I have to do a couple extra rinses, but I don't think that that is ruining the environment. On the other hand, the amount of trash we have when we use disposables is crazy...we were taking out full bags every couple of days. And that was just diaper trash. Yikes! I also wonder if you factor in the amount of resources it takes to make disposable diapers which one comes out more "green". But, my intention here is not to debate which one is better, just to dispel any myths, so moving on! 

4. As if I need more laundry/that's way too much work

This is the one that you probably won't believe until you actually try it. It is no big deal for me to throw in an extra load of laundry. I have to wash the baby clothes every couple of days anyway, so what's the extra work in tossing a bag in the washer? I mostly use a hybrid system, so I have to snap the liners into the covers once they're clean, but really, this only takes a few minutes. And I don't have to, I just like to have them all ready when I want to use them. The couple of diapers I do have to stuff don't take any longer than folding a shirt. 

This is the type of diaper we use (an all-in-2 or hybrid diaper). We use mostly GroVia brand. 

5. But all those pins and rubber pants and folding the nappies is just so complicated! 

Yes, it was. But cloth diapers have come a long way since our parents and grandparents used them. Now, there are no pins. There are no rubber pants. And you don't have to fold diapers if you don't want to. In fact, you can buy cloth diapers where all you have to do is unsnap or unvelcro the waist, and put it on your baby. Exactly like disposables. In fact, I think it's a bit easier, because you don't have to worry about those little ruffles on the legs. 

So, there we go. Hopefully you have a bit of a better understanding of cloth. It's not for everyone, and I'm not trying to change your mind, but I wanted to dispel the myths that I hear a lot of. And now you have a better grasp of what I am talking about when I talk about cloth diapers in the future. Still have questions? Leave 'em here and I will do my best to answer them. 

Next time I will talk about my "system" and how we actually use our cloth diapers. 


  1. This is great -- I've been meaning to make the switch (I already OWN cloth diapers, for crying out loud!) but I haven't done it because I'm extremely lazy, to be perfectly honest. Looking forward to your next post, too -- hoping it will inspire me to get off my butt and just do it!

    1. It's definitely one of those things you just have to take the plunge into. Once you start, it's really easy. Trust me, since I am super lazy...haha. :)

  2. yess! I have been thinking a lot about cloth diapering and I think I'm going to go for it! I just have one question: When you are out and about around town, what do you do with your dirty diapers? I'm still a little perplexed.

    1. If I am using cloth while we are out, I bring along a wetbag, which is a bag lined with waterproof material so that it won't leak anywhere. Then, you just toss the bag and the dirty dipes in the washer when you get home. :) I will get into more details on wetbags in my next post. Hopefully that sort of answers your question though...???

  3. I have some cloth diapers, but I stopped using them because I found that my little one's clothes wouldn't fit properly over them! Do I just have the wrong brand or is this a common issue?

    1. That can be a problem, Lauren. Some diapers fit a bit more trim than others, so it's possible you could find a brand that would work better. You can also get extenders for the onesies so you have some extra length in the crotch to make them fit a bit better. We haven't had too much of an issue because my son is skinny but long. But I think it's probably a pretty common issue.

    2. Generally you just need to size up your clothes. So your kid might be six months, and wear 6 month pants in disposables, but you'll probably be putting them in 9 or 12 month pants over cloth, if they're bulky. (The ones I use sure are!) If that makes my daughter's pant legs too long, I just roll them up.

  4. I have a very long time before considering what types of diapers I'll be using, but I've always wondered what I would do. This makes cloth seem a little more bearable! Thanks for being our mythbusters!

  5. I am now out of diapers (yeah!), but we choose disposable. It just worked better for us.

    As for why people get so worked up over this topic?
    You will see this is just the beginning - well I am sure you have already been involved in the breastfeeding debate - but there is much, much more to come.

    I think the biggest reason is because we as parents feel like we are making the BEST decision for ourselves, our family, and our child - and it is hard to see why someone else would not want to make the same best decision. We have a hard time seeing that our best decision is not necessarily your best decision.

    1. So jealous you are out of diapers! :)

      I am a big believer in doing what is best for you and your family. I think you are probably exactly right on why people get so worked up. It's a shame, really. Parenting is hard enough without all the drama and judgy-ness out there.


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