An Argument For Cloth Diapers

Every time your baby heeds nature’s call, he’s costing you a quarter. Disposable diapers, which can cost 25 cents or so apiece, are among the first of the infinite ways in which kids siphon money from parents’ wallets, but they’re not a necessity.

Sustainable Personal Finance pitches old-fashioned cloth diapers as a way to stick a pin in child rearing expenses, calculating that spurning disposables can save you $1,400 in two years. Using cloth diapers means a bit more legwork and laundry loads, but the work is well rewarded in savings.

The post recommends investing in rubber gloves and tongs to handle the hazardous waste, and promises that once the diapers emerge from the washing machine/dryer gauntlet, they’re as good as new.

Why Use Cloth Diapers? [Sustainable Personal Finance]


Edit Your Comment

  1. Rebecca K-S says:

    I am absolutely in favor of cloth diapers and agree with pretty much all the arguments for them, but I’ve handled my fair share of diapers in my time, and I could not bring myself to fault any parent who chooses disposables.

    • zippy says:

      Ditto. A friend and I had our first babies close together. We both started with cloth, she had to go to disposables because her daughter got rashy in cloth and they couldn’t solve the problem. I found out my daughter got rashy from disposables when we went on a trip and used disposables. You have to use what works for you. I will say, though, that we had to double ziploc the disposables on the trip when we had to change someplace without a trash can, the disposables reeked a lot worse than cloth diapers.

      I also hear in a lot of places, it’s illegal to put fecal matter into the garbage, so people with disposables would have to scrape the poops out of the disposables anyway, and that’s most of the annoyance of cloth right there.

      • chiieddy says:

        (Without doing any research) I call BS on the no fecal matter in trash. Dog waste always end up in the trash.

        • Potted-Plant says:

          I was surprised, too, but you’re supposed flush human poop whether it’s in a disposable or not. Mr. Plant is an engineer in public works. He’s worked on landfill design and water treatment plants. He told me that landfills aren’t designed to treat human waste like waste-water plants are, so ground water contamination is a concern if human waste exceeds the design parameters of the landfill. So human waste should be flushed as wastewater treatment is better at keeping the water table clean.

          Whether people actually do flush versus trash the waste is another story.

    • He says:

      Same here. Spraying poop off a diaper stinks. I think diaper services are the way to go. Also, the lady who wrote this didn’t include her increased water bills. On the other hand, toilet training going quicker than most of the kid’s friends. 1 down, 1 to go. Multiple kids = more savings.

    • Potted-Plant says:

      Cloth diapers rock. I’m expecting in May and still have our diapers saved from our first three, plus I’m going to make some more as we have a surplus of t-shirts lying around. We have saved a LOT of money with cloth.

      But: I’m with you in not faulting anyone for not using them. You need constant access to a washer and dryer and time to keep up with the cleaning. The cleaning isn’t all that much, but it cannot be ignored for even a short period of time. Working moms have a lot on their plates. Adding another wrinkle in child rearing is tough, especially in finding a good day care center that will accept cloth.

  2. Hi_Hello says:

    25 cents a piece…. i’ll pay 1 dollar not to deal with the cloth.

    • Costner says:

      This has been my argument. Plus, those estimates are ALWAYS inflated. Heck, I calculated the cost per diaper and it was typically 17-19 cents for the smaller sizes (when they are actually using a lot more diapers) not to mention I never even used coupons.

      Plus, I didn’t have to buy tongs, I didn’t have to buy rubber gloves, I didn’t need to wash an extra load of laundry every other day, I didn’t have to buy more soap and water. I didn’t need to spend time washing and cleaning and folding cloth diapers. I didn’t need to buy disposable liners for the cloth diapers. I didn’t need to use extra water to flush the contents of those cloth diapers. Plus, due to the technology in newer disposable diapers there is often less risk of diaper rash which means less creme and less discomfort for the child.

      If people are honest about the costs, the differences end up being much, much less. It probably works out to be something like a nickle for every diaper, but I couldn’t see it being more than a dime. I’m sorry, I’m willing to scrimp in certain areas, but I’m more than willing to spend a nickle or a dime every time the kid drops a load in the diaper.

      Plus, with disposables I don’t need to haul the dirty ones home from the mall, or from daycare, or from church, or from relatives I was visiting for the evening. Hauling around soiled diapers to deal with them later doesn’t sound like my idea of fun.

    • flyingember says:

      and who pays 25 cents?

      the name brand diapers at Sam’s Club cost $40 for 200 at the size I need right now for my son. That’s 20 cents per. 200 is about 45 days worth or $325 per year. Add the membership if you only bought diapers and That’s $365 And the store brand costs less which is what we really buy.

      At 25 cents per that would be $405 just for the diapers and I wouldn’t have an account to save on anything else.

      • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

        We pay about 25 cents per diaper with Amazon Mom. We don’t have a Sams or Costco around but Amazon’s prices are competitive with Walmart and Target.

        • caradrake says:

          We pay around 16-18 cents per with Amazon Mom and Subscribe and Save, but we use Luvs. I think we’re getting one box every 2 months and occasionally end up skipping a shipment if we already have enough (and I really wish they’d offer a 6 week shipping schedule). I think its like 160 diapers. It lasts forever.

          I still get wipes at Target. Love their store brand.

        • caradrake says:

          Blah, I just now got an email saying that Amazon Mom is dropping from 15% off to 5% off.

          I don’t know if Amazon is going to be the best source for diapers anymore.

      • BlackWaterOp says:

        If you’re only using 200 diapers in 45 days, I am thinking you need to change your kid more. We go through 6-8 a day, which would be 25-33.3 days.

    • BlackWaterOp says:

      You must have a lot of disposable income then, or you’re just naive about the real costs associated with disposables throughout your child’s diaper days.

    • ole1845 says:

      I agree. It’s an expense I’m willing to pay. I’ll cut back somewhere else. I know a few people who tried cloth diapers and after disasters with leakage, rashes, and smells everywhere switched back.

  3. Dallas_shopper says:

    There may be a cost savings but as for environmental impact, cloth vs disposable is a draw (from what I’ve read).

    • Rebecca K-S says:

      It probably depends on where you live. I imagine in a place like Tucson, cloth loses a lot of its environmental edge.

      • Potted-Plant says:

        Less energy usage in drying, though. Betcha diapers would dry on a line in no time, and with all the sun you’d need less disinfectants to keep them clean.

        I live in the Southeast so we’re doing okay water-wise, but line drying clothes instead of using my power-sucking dryer really isn’t practical. Even when it isn’t raining it can take hours for a load of laundry to dry.

    • Tim says:

      Where’d you read that? I know that cloth diapers take more resources to manufacture than disposable ones, but you use them so many times that the environmental impact per use is very small.

      And I highly doubt washing them has more of an environmental impact than using a single-use diaper and throwing it away.

      • Jules Noctambule says:

        When you consider the energy used to create water hot enough to really clean a soaked diaper, over and over and over and over every day, plus the amount of potable water wasted against a biodegradable disposable, I would imagine that it really is a draw. If you live in places where there’s a really limited reserve of water (think Arizona) you could probably come out worse for all the water wasted.

        • azgirl says:

          I live in Arizona, and in spite of it being a desert, water is realtively cheap. I do my signiicant part of being green for a living, so as long as there are golf courses out here running their sprinklers at 3 in the afternoon when its 115 out, I will not even feel guilty about running some extra laundry each week to clean up poo. I suspect I will be able to wash the diapers with other things anyway. In my front loader. In my house with solar panels :)

          I will be using cloth. I have also heard that diaper rash is less.. I suspect that chlorine in the diapers is partly to blame, and lack of breathability as well.

      • jmhart says:

        I’ve read the same thing about cloth. When you factor in energy to create and transport and energy to wash (power the washing machine/dryer and heat the water) they are similiar in environmental impact to disposable.

        That being said, my wife and I use Fuzzibunz and love them. Over the life of all of our kids, they’ll save a boat load of money. They’re easy to clean and handle. My daughter gets fewer bouts of diaper rash than when she’s worn disposables. I’ve read, however haven’t experienced it yet, that children on cloth diapers potty train faster.

        And did I mention the money it’ll save?

      • eeelaine says:

        As with anything else, it depends on your measuring stick.

        if you are looking at overall environmental impact over the life cycle, the biggest factor for cloth diapers is is in the cost of heating up water to wash the laundry again and again. That plus the manufacturing costs, and its a pretty even race in terms of overall impact between that and disposables.

        Of course, switching to renewable energy would reduce this significantly, so in the long run my bet is on cloth to be the most environmentally friendly.

      • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

        It really depends on how efficient your washer is, as well as how efficient your washing regime is.

        There are a gazillion articles on the subject, most of which contradict each other but the consensus (IMO) is that there isn’t a whole lot of difference in environmental impact either way, based on how “normal” people use their washing machines.

    • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

      Please link what you “read.” I’d like to see it.

    • kathygnome says:

      It depends where you live. Here on Cape Cod, disposable is definitely the better option environmentally because we rely on septic systems and are having major problems with nitrogen overloading. Solid waste, on the other hand, goes off cape to an “energy from waste” incinerator/power plant.

    • Sarek says:

      Sounds like an idea for a PhD dissertation: create a rating system for environmental impact. For diapers, compare the manufacturing, distribution, and disposal environmental costs of Pampers, et al vs. those for cloth diapers washed at home vs. those for a diaper service.

      I’m sure the rating number would vary by region due to power costs, water availability, etc.

      • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

        That’s pretty much what I’ve read.

        It’s just like the argument between hand washing dishes and using a dishwasher. The differences are pretty marginal and the decision usually comes down to how much your free time is worth.

    • Dallas_shopper says:

      BTW I’m not making a value judgment about people who use either type of diaper, nor am I suggesting that people switch from one to the other. My remark was mostly pointed at the smug types who think they’re saving the planet for their little snowflake by using cloth diapers. From what I’ve read…not so much.

      Me, I have no kids so I have no skin in this game. None. :-D

  4. Torgonius wants an edit button says:

    The expense of washing them + my time doing it over the span of 2 years is well over $1,400. I’ll stick with the disposables.

    Hell, for the first 8 months we could have left him naked from the bottom down and put him on some old newspapers and saved even more.

    • Nuc says:

      Soooo true!

    • bubbledumpster says:

      Google Elimination Communication.

    • Conformist138 says:

      You can really only count your “time” if you are certain you would be making money during that time. If you wouldn’t be working anyway, then you can’t claim your time was worth $XX because doing something else you’d still not be making money. Granted, you may have other things you would rather do, but unless disposables made you miss work and not get paid, factoring in your time is meaningless.

  5. Mr Grey says:

    We used cloth diapers for a year. I thought it was about a push – between the extra loads of laundry, soap, and time.

    • BlackWaterOp says:

      I have been using cloth diapers (Econobum) and have only had to do an extra load (diapers) every 3 days. So even with the 10 extra loads a month, that’s only about 3 extra bottles of laundry detergent per year, so maybe an extra $30/yr.

  6. HappyPig says:

    Cloth worked great for us, and the diapers always came out very clean (we used the extended wash cycle, so there was definitely more water usage). Our kid loved them, and when they grow out out of them, you can sell/give them to someone else’s kid.

    And yes, scraping was distasteful, but hey, I work with smelly bacteria at work, so it’s kind of the same. Just bleach the covered poop-bucket regularly, and you’ll be fine.

  7. sweetgreenthing says:

    We’ve used both. We started with cloth, then had a lot of issues washing them. You have to use hot water, and the apartment laundry room only does cold. Taking two small kids to the laundromat three times a week was just too much work for a tired new mom. (Especially because we only have one car, so if hubby was at work I’d have to load up both kids AND the laundry into a stroller and walk there.) I liked the colors, the fun prints, the joy of not having to spend 15-20 bucks every few weeks on diapers. BUT- I was spending that much just to wash them, which also took up a lot more of my time than throwing a box of disposables in my cart.
    We plan to go back to using cloth when we move into a house and have our own washer/ dryer. I don’t mind throwing a load in every day if I can do it my own house, but my time is worth too much to me to jump through hoops over something my kid poops in.

    • Mrs. w/1 child says:

      Wow, I give you a ton of credit for even trying cloth under those circumstances. We used cloth but were able to get permission from the landlord to install one of those portable washers that attaches to the sink and uses a regular outlet in our bathroom (we pay all our own utilities). It has a washtub approx 3/4 the size of a “normal” washer (and is a much smaller appliance overall).

      It also had the option of a small, medium, or large washes. For two or three scraped dirty diapers the small wash load was perfect. I scraped them and plunked them right in the washer to soak for a few hours until I had 3 dirty diapers. Then drained it and washed them on the hottest setting. I was able to not only wash diapers in house but most of our other clothing too. (King size bed sheets and blankets still had to go in a “full” size washer.) I also made our own laundry detergent. In our case (not having to herd children to the laundry mat) it saved us a HUGE amount of money.

      Of course, the landlord could have said “no” to a washer, but I think she was grossed out with the thought of us washing poopy diapers in the common area coin op washer in the basement. *evil grin*

    • Tyanna says:

      We are expecting our first and I did the math. It costs us $3.50/load in our building. It would cost us the same amount to buy disposables as it will to wash cloth diapers each week.

      We are thinking the same thing as you; when we get a place with laundry, we will consider it. Until then, doesn’t seem like it’s worth the extra hassle.

  8. sirbo says:

    I have bum genius cloth diapers for our daughter. Almost 5 months in, and we’re doing well. We don’t mind the extra work (the wife doesn’t mind washing them, I put them back together). They have cloth inserts that go into the diaper ‘shell’, and then you can use the snaps on the shell to size the diaper to your baby. No diaper rashes to date as of yet, either.

  9. john says:

    Even if you change the diaper 12x a day, it is still less than the cost of a Starbucks drink, and I wouldn’t have to deal with scraping and washing them. Babies really aren’t that expensive if they are healthy. It’s when they get older that you hear the sucking sound from your wallet.

    • dangerp says:

      If you buy a starbucks drink every single day, then your budget problem extends well beyond your child-rearing expenses.

      I do agree on the expenses part for infants. Especially if they are breastfed. I spend about $30 per month on our 7 month old’s disposable diapers (through amazon mom). He just started eating solid food, which is well under 50 cents per day since we make his baby food. Assuming you go used or hand-me-down on clothes and toys, there is very little recurring expense.

      • john says:

        I don’t buy Starbucks, just seems like the old go-to example for spending.

        I did forget about daycare expenses. After I was laid off for the 3rd time, 9 years ago, we decided it was cheaper for me to stay home. That saved tons, so I understand.

    • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

      Even if they’re healthy, they can still be expensive.

      When we had our first child, it cost about $400/month to add her to our health insurance. Each “baby-well” visit also ran in the $500+ ballpark. The prenatal care cost about $2,500 and our out-of-pocket expenses for delivery were $5,000.

      • notserpmh says:

        What kind of insurance do you have? That seems crazy. I have “independent”, not through my employer insurance and my wife has no insurance (can’t get covered). We just had our second child, a boy in Oct. 2011. I have just finally finished getting all the bills and all told (pre-natal care, natural delivery in hospital with epidural and no complications, once over of the new baby to make sure he was okay in hospital along with normal new baby checks) we were out $12,000 (remember my wife has no insurance to cover the pre-natal, epidural, delivery or her part of the hospital stay).

        I added my son to my insurance (that now has me, my daughter, and my son on it) and our premiums went up about $50 a month. All of his well visits, including immunizations are free. Sick visits (we had one) run about $90 or so (depending on the “level”). All this is with BCBSTX ordered from their website (not a government program or anything like that).

        Your story is a perfect example of why US healthcare is so messed up. You paid high premiums, and still had over 50% of the out of pocket I did ($5,000+$2,500+$500 = $8,000 vs $12,000).

        I have found (since my wife quit work 3 years ago after the birth of our first child and we no longer had insurance through her company), that unless you have a heart attack or cancer or something, insurance is worthless. Maybe that should be obvious but I think for a lot of people it isn’t. As one more example, I originally had an insurance plan with $30 co-pays for office visits. Like a lot of people might think, that seemed like a good idea. Then I started looking into it more closely. I figured out that, without the co-pay plan, my doctor charged, on average about $90-$100 per visit. I then looked at the premium difference and found that I was paying about $80 more, per month, just to get the co-pay office visit plan. So basically, if at least one person in my family (well, me or my kids at least) didn’t visit the doctor each month for a sick visit (the kids well visits are covered), then I was losing out. I canceled the plan and have enjoyed the savings since.

        • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

          We had a high deductible plan with a $5,000 deductible and had a pregnancy that ran over two plan years. We just recently (December) switched to a $10,000 deductible plan.

          As much as the high deductibles suck, they pay for themselves with lower premiums. We just raised our deductible by $5,000 and are saving over $10,000/year in premiums. The downside is that it doesn’t include maternity or prescriptions. But we’re both fixed, so it’s a pretty minor issue.

        • Tyanna says:

          I live in Canada. I’m pregnant right now. Reading how much you paid to have a kid in the US horrifies me. The only thing I’m going to pay for here is the cost of a private room at the hospital. Government pays for the basic 6-8 people per room. My insurance covers a semi-private room (2 to 4 people). My employer will reimburse me the cost of the private room when I’m back at work.

          Doctor’s appointments, ultrasounds, blood work, and delivery are all covered by government health care. I don’t know what I’d do if I had to pay 12k just to have a kid!

          • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

            ” I don’t know what I’d do if I had to pay 12k just to have a kid!”

            Take out a second mortgage, it’s what we had to do. Another option is to get a divorce, so you can hide your husband’s wages, and get on Medicaid.

            I can’t remember the exact math but between premiums and deductibles, our last child cost us about $25,000 over the course of two years. It was even more if you factor in the unpaid leave my wife took off.

    • Costner says:

      Daycare costs can run as high as college tuition. I pay around $650 a month – I can’t see spending that much on an older child. A teenage might eat a lot, but you aren’t spending $650 a month on clothing, and they only need a car once etc.

      Even braces (which are partly covered by dental insurance) don’t end up costing more than a few months of daycare expenses.

  10. momtimestwo says:

    We used cloth for both of our kids. In fact, I reused the cloth from the first for the second. Then I sold all the cloth diapers on ebay when we were done. The poo wasn’t bad, I breastfed both of them, so it was mostly mustard poo and as they got older you could just shake or peel it off into the toilet:) They never had a single case of diaper rash. My favorite diapers were Chinese prefolds and a waterproof cover. They wash very well and are inexpensive. But their are so many options now. Plus a lot are made by a “mommy business”. Don’t forget you can also get cloth sanitary pads too, which are way expensive when you first buy them, but they last forever. I have the same set for 10 years now.

  11. peggysister says:

    When my kids were small we lived in San Francisco. They had a diaper service which I used. I only used disposables when I was out.

  12. travel_nut says:

    I work full time and my mom watches my son 3 days a week. No way would I ask her to deal with cloth diapers. I thought about it (briefly) but it’s a huge investment at first.

    I’m a little bit of a coupon ninja, so I don’t pay that much for diapers anyway.

  13. daveinva says:

    Two words: baby litter.

    Good enough for the cat, good enough for the kid!

  14. qbubbles says:

    Nooooooo thanks. My 15 month old’s shit is horrendous, and I totally wouldnt want extended time with it. I could potty train her now, but I just had another kid, so, no.

    • HogwartsProfessor says:

      Congratulations, btw. I think I missed it. The last post I saw you were saying your hip was killing you and you were still preggo. I hope the hip is better too. :)

  15. Power Imbalance says:

    I’d pay more than $0.25 to avoid having to deal with shitty laundry…

  16. shthar says:

    How many people think the author doesn’t have any kids?

  17. GreatWhiteNorth says:

    Having used cloth for the first kid it was a “no Brainer” to go disposable with the next kid.

    They are correct that washing diapers is not a big problem except for the volume and smell of the laundry. Well, also the cost as the diapers really do need to be washed in hot water with borax as well as detergent. I guess they also take longer to dry in the dryer, line drying not a winter option inside or out.

    What would be nice is a service to pick up the used disposables for proper recycling.

    • JF says:

      You can actually resell the used cloth diapers. May sound “gross” but a lot of people do buy them used. That is how I got rid of my stash and got about 40% of my original purchase price back. I used Craig’s List. Just wash them really good (I did a strip so the purchaser didn’t have to initially mess with it) and hang them in the sun for the natural bleaching effects. That 40% was also with half of the diapers delaminated, but still waterproof.

      • GreatWhiteNorth says:

        I agree, cloth diapers can be sold on… They also make great rags for washing and polishing cars if cut apart.

        But the recycling of disposable diapers would be a bonus. The excrement needs to be kept out of the landfill and the materials they are made out of are easily reclaimed.

  18. FangDoc says:

    Disposables CAN cost $.25 each, but they don’t have to. My 14 month old has been in the Target Up & Up disposables since birth, and we get the “Club Box.” 144 diapers for $20.99 = $.15 per diaper. It’s not just the cost savings: we’ve tried Pampers and Huggies and actually prefer the Target brand. No Disney or Sesame Street characters, but I count that as a win.

    • kosmo @ The Soap Boxers says:

      We used Pampers on the first kid, Target on the second. I wouldn’t say that we prefer Target over Pampers – we really don’t see much of a different either way. They do the job they are supposed to do.

  19. FashionablyDoomed says:

    I have a better way to save all that money: Don’t have babies. Worked perfectly for me!

  20. Lyn Torden says:

    You’d put that in your washing machine? You better be sure it has a sterilize cycle.

    • JF says:

      Really? Your sterilize your hands after using the restroom? /sarc

      Soap rinses bacteria away.

    • diannerose says:

      So, when your baby has a blow out in a disposable diaper and gets poop up their back and all over their clothes, what do you do then? Trash the clothes? You obviously don’t have kids.

  21. JF says:

    I did cloth for 6 months with my baby. It is a pain in the behind. These numbers never take opportunity cost into the equation. The time I spent washing, drying, stuffing, and folding cloth diapers far exceeded the money we would “save” by using disposables.

    I now use Costco’s Kirkland disposable diapers and I love them. They actually solved the one problem I really have with most disposables… too much perfume. That perfume mixed with pee is just foul. In my kid’s current size 4 it is about 20 cents per diaper.

  22. Cat says:

    25 cents?

    15 cents each.

  23. McRib wants to know if you've been saved by the Holy Clown says:

    Some pros for cloth diapers:

    Kids are more aware of their peeing as they feel it.
    Less likely to get rash because of it (in our experience)
    Trained earlier because of it.
    Saved cash

    Washing shitty cloth

  24. chiieddy says:

    I know plenty of new moms who have done this calculation and generally cost is a wash no matter what choice you make.

    1. Cost of disposables (not weighing environmental costs)
    2. Cost of laundry service for cloth diapers
    3. Cost of washing diapers yourself and additional laundry loads (not include time=money costs)

    1 = 2 = 3 or the difference is small enough not to be worth having to deal with the s#!+ yourself.

  25. milty45654 says:

    So how does saving a dollar a day in diapers(4 diapers) make up for the water/sewer/electric/rubber glove investment costs to using cloth diapers exactly? I’d like to see hard numbers

    • shepd says:

      And it’s not even a dollar, more like 50 cents.

      Find me a diaper washing service that charges $3 a week and we are talking. Or find me a way to operate my washing machine and dryer daily for less than 50 cents and we’re talking.

    • diannerose says:

      What baby only goes through 4 diapers a day? Better yet, what parent only changes them that often!?

      • milty45654 says:

        I dunno…don’t have kids…just figured I poop once a day and urinate about 3…maybe babies do a little more? But still…to run a washer and the water costs…plus the time involved…sounds like it’s more costly as far as expenses go to me.

  26. KitanaOR says:

    We used a diaper service for $80 a month. Sure beat the price of disposables on that one. They pick up dirty diapers and deliver clean ones weekly. We just put the dirty diapers in the bin they provided and that was that. Came with one diaper cover, too. We didn’t have to pre-rinse or anything. We bought more diaper covers, and will reuse those on the next kid.

    • travel_nut says:

      $80 a month? I’ve never spent more than $40/month–and many months it’s closer to $20–on disposable diapers. And my kid’s almost 2.

    • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

      $80/month sounds like a lot. We’re spending about $45/month on disposable diapers through Amazon Mom. If we wanted to scrimp, we could probably pick store brand diapers for closer to $20 or $30/month.

  27. BrownEyes says:

    Good luck with getting a daycare to use cloth diapers.

    Disposables are totally worth the price just for not having to rinse out poop from cloth diapers before you can wash them.

    Thumbs down to washing and drying diapers. Who has time? I can barely find the time to wash the regular clothes.

    • Raanne says:

      A lot of daycare’s don’t have problems with them. Its not like changing one of the newer cloth diapers is any harder than changing a disposable – its one piece that velcros on (or snaps). Put in plastic bag instead of putting it in the trash. Really no difference at all.

  28. Jamfish says:

    “The post recommends investing in rubber gloves and tongs to handle the hazardous waste…”

    Oh, please… we’re on kid #3 now and have used cloth nearly all the time. “Gloves and tongs” sound like something a first-timer would say :). Just get yer hands in there, boy! It washes off with soap and hot water like everything else.

    Incidentally we do use disposables at certain times/places and consistently at night. For some reason each of our kids (boys and girl) turn into firehoses at night. We have tried valiantly to use cloth at night w/ them, but when we found ourselves changing the sheets in the crib almost every night it was no longer worth it. God bless “overnight” disposables.

    • feetmonkey says:

      I agree. You hardly need rubber gloves and tongs. It’s just not going to jump off the diaper and onto you!

      We had the same problem with overnights, but were able to stuff the diapers with thicker pads (we use pocket diapers). Sometimes she still leaks, but that could happen in ‘sposies, too.

  29. feetmonkey says:

    We have been using cloth for about a year now (our daughter is almost 14 months). We’ve had some leaking issues, some laundry issues, and a nasty yeast infection that required “stripping” the diapers a few times, but we’re completely sold on the concept. Spraying the poop into the toilet isn’t even that bad, especially now that she’s eating regular food.

    For us personally, we decided that it was cheaper long term (at the time, I did the math, including everything except an exact figure for the detergent) and probably IS better for the environment. Without having researched this extensively, I imagine that environmental impacts from the production of both types of diapers would be telling, and the impact is lesser for each subsequent child on whom the diaper is used.

    Given all of that, while I would love to see everyone using cloth diapers, I’m not going to fault those who choose not to. It’s more work and planning, not to mention a higher up-front cost.

  30. greendragon2000 says:

    Cloth diapers at home, and plastic when out…I dont know about you guys, but I dont want to sit in the middle of church or out in public and have a cloth diaper blowout!!! (mom of an 8 year old and a newborn)

  31. Potted-Plant says:

    I agree that a new set of cloth diapers vs. disposables for each child is probably a wash as far as energy consumption, but considering disposal of physical waste cloth still has the edge with good ecology. Forgive the image, but a pile of the solids thrown away from a cloth user will be much smaller and take much less time to biodegrade than that of a disposable user.

    Energy impact with the production of cloth is also reduced considerably with each successive child. Even more so when the material is sourced from secondhand material (old clothes). Economies of scale work well for this model.

    • DrPizza says:

      The ecological hazards of putting a non-degradable substance into a landfill? The answer to that is near zero. In a landfill, a diaper sits idle. However, a lot of the solid waste when washing cloth diapers ends up going down the drain where it has to be filtered out of the water before the water is safe enough to end up in the river or wherever your sewage treatment plant empties the water.

      Want to save money? Spend more time with your son or daughter and get them potty trained. It’s weird that cultural differences between the US and the rest of the world have resulted in an average age in the US when a child is finally potty trained to be much later than in many other regions of the world.

      • Potted-Plant says:

        “In a landfill, a diaper sits idle”- no, it does not. It will degrade, it’s just a matter of how long it takes. Even radioactive waste has a half-life.

        “… a lot of the solid waste when washing cloth diapers ends up going down the drain where it has to be filtered out of the water before the water is safe enough to end up in the river or wherever your sewage treatment plant empties the water.”

        -So? As I stated earlier in the comments, wastewater treatment plants are designed to treat human waste efficiently. Landfills are not. Cloth or disposable debate aside human waste should be flushed for effective treatment, full stop. And depending on the region you live in, the treated water coming out of the plant might actually be cleaner than the natural groundwater.

        “It’s weird that cultural differences between the US and the rest of the world have resulted in an average age in the US when a child is finally potty trained to be much later than in many other regions of the world.”

        – Cloth diapered kids potty train faster than kids wearing disposables, so I’m not sure what you’re trying to get at. Cultural differences? I have no idea what you’re referring to here.

        “Spend more time with your son or daughter and get them potty trained.” -Yeah, I’m a homeschooling SAHM that’s potty-trained three kids. I spend plenty of time with them, thanks.

  32. EdK says:

    If you’re paying $0.25 per diaper, you’re getting completely ripped off. That’s not a realistic figure.

  33. shepd says:

    A quarter? Where are you buying diapers, from the emergency diaper vending machine in the washroom?

    10 to 15 cents each, TOPS. Cost of a washing service is more than what our child uses (we priced it out). Washing them yourself is the only way to save money and I have no interest in sh*tting up the washing machine, and the wife isn’t interested either. I haven’t even bothered with the cost of the cloth diapers themselves, because if washing them is already too expensive, there’s no need to consider it.

    Also, what your child is very sick if after a month it’s using 10 diapers a day, and EXTREMELY sick if it’s a toddler and using over 7 diapers a day. You should see a doctor about that, pronto.

  34. HogwartsProfessor says:

    My mother used cloth diapers on us. I would use them (if the universe would let me have a baby :P) but only if I had a washer/dryer in my house/apartment/shack/whatever. Dragging anything to the laundromat, even if you don’t have to take a baby with you, is a freaking nightmare.

  35. TravelWithDignity says:

    We used them for the first 6 months of my daughters life. But then the poop because especially vile, so my wife decided she had enough of the up close and personal experience with the cloth reusable ones and we went disposable. We will try again on our second child.

  36. sadie kate says:

    I was really excited to find a local diaper service that deals in cloth diapers. Once a week they pick up your bin of used cloth diapers and bring you new ones. The cost was $20/week, so not a huge saving over disposables, but I felt like I was making an environmental difference. Unfortunately my daughter gets super rashy in cloth diapers, so we switched to disposables. For those, I’m only paying 19 cents/diaper. I order them from Amazon and get free 2-day shipping with my prime account.

  37. nellybelly says:

    We’ve cloth diapered our now 22 month old since birth. It really wasn’t a big deal for us. It amounted to an extra 2 loads of laundry a week (we had apartment laundry/laundromat for the first nine months, now have an apartment with its own washer/dryer, thank God). We’re not crazed hippies or anything, just cheap, I guess. We paid about $300 for the lot of them and will be able to reuse all of them with baby #2, due in a few weeks. Our daughter has never had diaper rash and we never have to worry about running out of diapers. I don’t judge parents who choose disposables but cloth was way easier than I thought it would be and we couldn’t be happier.

  38. tooluser says:

    Diaper your child however you like.

  39. Froggee285 says:

    I worked in two preschools while in collage, and I have potty trained a whole lot of kids whose parents were way to lazy to do it. (oh he uses the potty on saturdays!)

    ANYWAY I keep seeing parents say that cloth diapers help in feeling the pee, when they are ready to be transitioned to potty training. It really doesnt matter, because diapers are “owned” by the parents, and the kids have no “rights” to them….If you buy the kid nice big kid undies, let them pick it out, and exclusivley use them…making a big show about throwing them out because they are dirty and ruined…combined with the whole feeling the pee….that gets a kid trained in a week.

  40. backinpgh says:

    I would try cloth if we had our own washer and dryer, but at a $1 to wash and $1 to dry I wouldn’t be saving any money.

    As for scraping they now make a great diaper sprayer you can attach to your toilet to take care of some of the “dirty work.”

    Today’s cloth diapers are super cute too!

  41. combs1945 says:

    I’ve thought about cloth diapers, but a diaper service is more expensive and worse for the environment if you live in an area with water issues. IE, you live in low rainfall climate. Apparently, the water you use to wash them and the detergent and nitrogen that is released into the river systems is very toxic.

    It is sad you have to choose land fill or the destruction of fisheries.

  42. ninabi says:

    There’d be no debating “cloth vs disposable” if we were talking about adult diapers….