Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Cloth Diapering: A Thing of the Past?

When I was 7 months pregnant with my son Mikey, my husband Michael brought up the idea of cloth diapering. I'll admit, as soon as the words "cloth diapers" came out of his mouth, all I could picture was a little man running around giggling with pee leaking out of stuffy rubber pants.

Although Michael assured me that cloth diapers, like everything else, must have advanced over the years, the images of babies in pinned flour sacks that I had come to associate with cloth diapering were burned into my mind. And then I started researching....

Turns out, cloth diapers are actually a pretty awesome alternative! After reading up on modern cloth diapering, it turns out that pins and rubber pants are generally a thing of the past, and that cloth diapers are healthier for little ones AND the environment. On top of being healthier, they are much more cost effective than disposables and let's face it, they are so much cuter!
My little man at 3 weeks old wearing a BumGenius 3.0 pocket diaper!

So here are the facts:
  • Disposable diapers contain all kinds of chemicals, including Dioxin. Dioxin is one of the most toxic of all the cancer linked chemicals, banned in most countries. Disposables also contain TBT, a chemical famous for its association with Toxic Shock Syndrome, banned from usage in tampons. Other toxins include chlorine and sodium polyacrylate. 
  • Disposable diapers are estimated to take approximately 500 years to decompose. That is a lot of space in landfills being filled with petroleum products and human waste. The possibility of water contamination is pretty scary.
  • People often ask me about water usage and washing cloth diapers. Disposables actually use about twice as much water in their manufacture than cloth diapers. I do two loads of diaper laundry per week. My water bill has only gone up about $10. I pay $10 for a bag of DeeTergent natural laundry detergent, and each bag lasts about a month and a half. That is a lot cheaper than using disposable diapers.
  • A study conducted by W G Sippell and published in the British Medical Journal found that scrotal temperature is increased in disposable diapers, which could potentially cause problems with the creation of sperm.
  • On average, the cloth diapered baby will potty learn earlier. This is because the baby can actually feel the moisture. Disposables tend to keep babies feeling dryer for much longer, which can also lead to increased frequency of diaper rash since parents are more likely to change diapers less often. 
  • Cloth is way cheaper! You can buy a whole stash of diapers for as little as $200! And those diapers can usually be used for more than one baby. I personally paid about $350 for my stash, but I have way more diapers than I really need. It's become sort of a hobby!
  • Cloth is more comfortable. What would you rather wear, soft cloth or crunchy plastic/paper diapers?
There are a few questions I get asked a lot, other than why I choose to cloth diaper. Most people ask me about washing diapers. "Is it dirty?" "Does it stink in his room?" "Do you touch poo?" "Does it damage the washing machine?"  "What is your routine?"

Well, technically it is dirty, but no, I don't touch poop while putting the diapers in the washing machine. This is because you place dirty diapers in a pail that is lined with a reusable wet bag. When you're ready to do laundry, you simply flip the bag inside out over the machine and then toss the wet bag in once all the diapers are in the washer. But as a parent, you're inevitably going to touch poop at some point during your child's infancy. Diaper laundry does not damage your washing machine either. Before your child starts eating solid foods, their poo is water soluble. This means you can just dump the soiled diapers into your washer and not have to worry! Once they start solids, the poop is no longer water soluble. You have a few options: you can use a biodegradable liner and just flush the poop down the toilet, you can buy a diaper sprayer for your toilet and spray the poop off, or you can even use a spatula to scrape it off. I recommend either using liners or a diaper sprayer. Something about a poopy spatula laying around seems less than sanitary. In regards to whether or not the room where the diaper pail is stinks, no it doesn't, as long as you are washing diapers in a timely manner. If you let soiled diapers sit around for a week, of course it will smell. But washing every 2 to 3 days is more than enough.

My washing routine is pretty simple. I have a top loader. I put the diapers in the washer and do a cold rinse with one scoop of DeeTergent. Then, I do a hot wash on heavy using two scoops of DeeTergent. Then I do a final cold rinse with no laundry detergent. Remember to set your washer on the largest load. After the wash, I put the diapers in the dryer, and they usually dry in about 45 minutes. Altogether, washing takes about an hour and a half.  Make sure that any detergent you use is free of enzymes, fabric softeners, dyes, and optical brighteners. Commonly recommended brands are Rockin' Green, Country Save and BumGenius. I personally love DeeTergent, it's great and smells awesome, plus the mom who makes it is local to me.

I also get asked about going out. The only differences between using disposables and cloth diapers while out and about are that you may need a larger diaper bag and you need some medium size wet bags to store diapers til you get home. I have a Skip Hop Bento for longer outings, and a mini Eddie Bauer bag for shorter trips. It's pretty simple.

There are lots of different kinds of cloth diapers. Flats, prefolds, hyrbids, pocket diapers and all-in-ones. The book "Changing Diapers" by Kelly Wels is a great resource and thoroughly explains the differences between the different styles. I think I'll make a separate post explaining the differences. But no matter what diapers you choose, they all benefit your wallet, the environment and most importantly, your baby!


Related Reading:
*"Changing Diapers" by Kelly Wels

Related Multimedia:


  1. Off to a great start!!! I already pinned your post on Pinterest and started following your blog.... Can't wait to read more!