What you need to know about cloth diapers

I know. The whole cloth diaper thing causes most of us to wrinkle up our nose. More laundry, stinky poopy laundry. I get it. I really do. That’s what I used to think before I learned more about them.

Here’s the deal – I will preface this post saying if you have no interest in cloth diapering, DO NOT DO IT. Being a parent keeps us busy enough and the last thing you need is someone trying to convince you that will be a better parent if you do cloth diapers. You won’t. But, if you are even the slightest bit curious, keep reading. I made the switch from disposables to cloth after educating myself, and they work wonderfully for us.

I get the same questions over and over again from people about cloth diapers. Let’s get straight to the point, what you all are really wondering:

So people really wash dirty diapers at home, in their washers, where they wash all of their other clothes?


Here’s how it works. Diapers from an exclusively breastfeed baby can go right in the wash. Breastmilk is water soluble. It’s that runny, watery poop and it washes right out.

Fomula fed babies and older babies (on solid food) will have poop that is a firmer consistency. No, you don’t dump a whole dookie into your washer and call it good. For these kind of stools, you remove it prior to washing. Most people simply dump what they can of the poop into the toilet. They also make a diaper sprayer that attaches to your toilet that you can use to spray off the majority of the poop. Yes there will still be a tad bit of poop going into your washer but if you are washing them correctly this won’t be a problem. On a side note – we all should be dumping the poop into the toilet, disposables or cloth diaperers. Human feces aren’t supposed to end up in the landfills. Think about it. Ewwwww.

So how do they really get clean then and is there leftover poopy water in my washer?

There is a ton of info out there about how to wash your diapers and different machines will require a different approach. Basic rules are:

  • wash diapers seperately from your other laundry (duh)
  • do a cold wash first
  • do a second wash in hot with lots of water and detergent
  • do a second rinse
  • line or tumble dry

A lot of people, myself included, have had the best luck using Tide. There is something about the enzymes in Tide that really get the diapers clean. Every time.

Is there leftover poopy water in the washer? I really don’t know. But I consider myself a reasonably intelligent gal and if the diapers come out clean, wouldn’t the washer be clean too? And if you have experienced the wonderful world of potty training, it’s certainly not the first time your washer will see poop. I have a front loader and once a month I do the bleach cycle to clean the washer and avoid getting the horrid musty smell.

Can I really save money? Is this worth all the trouble?

Yes. You can really save money. A lot of it! There is a wide range of cloth diapers out there, and you certainly can spend a lot, but there are also lots of very reasonable choices.

According to Consumer Reports, you can expect to spend around $2,500 on diapers per child until they are potty trained. I can think of a lot of other shoes things I would rather spend my money on. Cloth diapering is generally much less expensive. I would say we have invested around $500 dollars for the diapers I have used on both my children. And I honestly didn’t notice a change in our gas or electric bill from a few extra loads of laundry.

How are they better for the environment? You are still using energy and water to wash them.

It has been estimated that one baby in disposable diapers will contribute one ton of waste through their years in diapers. A TON. That is a lot of waste. And waste that will be around for a long time considering that it can take up to 500 years for a disposable diaper to decompose. 500 hundred years, so at least six generations…WOW.

By choosing reusable diapers, you are using a renewable resource, including water and electricity. It just makes more sense to me.

There is a lot to learn about cloth diapering. But please know that if you are interested, it is do-able! Even if you do it part-time, or just when you are home, or even just when you feel like it, you are still doing something great for your baby and the environment, and your budget. And if you don’t, that’s okay too.

For more info on cloth diapers check out Cotton Babies or Abby’s Lane. They have great FAQ’s and easy ways to get started.


One thought on “What you need to know about cloth diapers

  1. Pingback: Review: The Honest Company Diaper Bundle | - - - A Bada Bing! - - -

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