Cloth Diapers at Daycare

What happens when your daycare refuses to use cloth diapers?  You’ve made the costly investment in all the gear, found the most efficient way to wash them, and heartily enjoyed the whole experience…until you have to go back to work and send baby to a sitter. 

When we found out that our childcare center wouldn’t use cloth, it became part of our decision to switch.  It actually had a policy prohibiting the use of cloth diapers!  That daycare wasn’t a particularly good fit for Roscoe anyway, so it wasn’t a difficult choice. But what happens when you find the perfect care center for your child, except for the fact that cloth diapering isn’t accepted?

Rebecca’s daycare provider had never worked with cloth diapers before but was willing to give it a shot. Her sitter sends dirty diapers home in a wet bag and has been happy to find that using cloth diapers with Rebecca’s daughter has cut down on her overall garbage bill.  

What has your experience been with cloth diapers at daycare?  Have you found that specific types of care providers such as centers or in-home daycares are more willing to use cloth?  Are daycare providers more willing to use certain types of cloth diapers like all-in-ones over prefolds?  Please share your stories!


  1. I have a one-year old and have recently switched to cloth diapering at home. I asked my day care if they would be willing to do cloth. It is a traditional, locally-owned day care center. Before asking, I researched the state regulations regarding cloth diapering so that I would be prepared to counter any “health regulations don’t allow it” type of refusal. To my surprise, the day care owners replied that they have been looking for ways to be “greener”, and would look into it. They have researched the state regs, talked to their consulting nurse, and are still trying to figure out how to make it work. However, right now their answer to me is no. They reason that if they allow this for me, they must make it available to any other parent at the day care that wishes to use cloth, and they can’t figure out how to provide a cloth disposal solution for multiple children that is sanitary, meets state regs, and can be stored in the space currently available. So right now, he is in disposables at day care and cloth at home.

    Because I wasn’t sure whether they would take cloth when I switched, I have a very small stash of cloth diapers (about 10 diapers); that’s just enough to get us through 5 weeknights of changes without doing wash. I find that even that small amount of time in cloth has significantly cut down on the number of disposables I buy, although it probably won’t be enough for me to break even on my cloth purchase.

  2. I use cloth diapers on my daughter and babysit for a friends daughter in my home two days a week. I actually wish that they used cloth! I have to have a separate diaper pail for the disposables, which IMO is smellier than a pail for cloth. Plus I have diaper trash.

  3. librarymama says

    When looking for daycare for my daughter, I was shocked at how many places refused to even entertain the notion of cloth diapers. While it wasn’t a deal breaker for me, I was lucky enough to find a place that was willing to do it. We provided a pail w/ baggies and at the end of the day, she’d give us a bag of dirties.After a few weeks she told me that she was really pleasantly surprised at how easy it was and not any more work (in fact less since she didn’t have to deal w/ my trash) than disposables. I think a lot of daycares just decided that it’ll be too much work even when it’s not.

  4. I work in a daycare with infants and we’ve only had two people do cloth diapering in the three and a half years that I’ve been there. The first baby was only in cloth for a month or so, and they didn’t use cloth on their second child at all. I don’t know if they decided to do cloth at home and disposables at daycare or what. We have a boy in our care currently that uses cloth because he has very sensitive skin and can’t use disposable at all. He even has cloth wipes that need to be sprayed with water.

  5. Our experience has been similar to Lori’s. Freddie loves our church’s childcare center and Fiona is scheduled to start part-time in the spring. With toddlers, they were open to the idea of putting on two pairs of “big boy” pants and dealing with accidents. But they’re wary of making cloth diapers work for (potentially) eight infants in a relatively small space.

    The good news is that lots of parents have asked – times really are changing!

  6. Mine will use cloth just fine thankfully. I happened to notice some in the changing room when I visited and made a comment about it, and they were amenable for me to bring in mine as well. I bring in the clean ones with liners and they send home the dirties in plastic bags (which I also supply). It works for us. Plus they don’t have as much diaper trash that way.

    I had to show them how mine “worked” since they are different to the AIOs the other child has, but so far I’ve not had any complaints.

    It wasn’t a deal breaker for me but I was very pleased they would do it, and also glad that a previous parent had “broken” the ice so to speak!

  7. I appreciate getting the point of view of daycare providers. The state has tough regulations to fulfill for using cloth at daycare and our original care center would have had to pay a few hundred dollars to get certified to use cloth. It seems that in-home centers have a bit more flexibility than bigger centers. Am I right?

  8. I don’t understand the issue with sanitation. What is more sanitary about a dirty disposable diaper in a bag than a dirty cloth diaper in a bag? I assume daycare providers are flushing the solid waste in either circumstance if they are following the instructions on the disposable diaper packages.

    Lori, Joy linked to the bag I used with our daycare provider. It seems like if you and the other cloth-diapering parent each had one of those, they could just put your babies’ cloth diapers in their respective bags. This would take hardly any space at all; I mean, your one-year-old probably goes through no more than four diapers during daycare hours, right? I assume they always change babies’ diapers in the same little area, so they could even hang the bags on hooks. The only thing that would be slightly more work is remembering where to put the dirty diapers.

    They would probably find, as others have mentioned, that it is no more difficult and that they will reduce the amount of trash they need to haul out.

  9. I think 90% of disposable diaper users don’t realize that they’re supposed to rinse poopy diapers and flush the waste even though it says it on the package. Considering that many daycare providers are extremely busy I can see how rinsing diapers isn’t a priority. I feel good that our provider just places all my son’s used diapers (soiled and otherwise) into the waterproof bag. We clean the diapers when we get home and it makes her job more manageable.

  10. I worked at a big daycare center for many years and we only had one baby in cloth diapers. Still, it was no problme at all. We dealt with his dirty diapers the same way we’d deal with a potty training toddlers soiled clothes…any poop is knocked into the toilet, the dirty diapers are placed in a plastic bag which is double knotted and placed in the child’s cubby to be taken home at the end of the day. We checked with the inspector and it was just fine (in NYS). It didn’t require any certification or anything. We didn’t even need to check with the inspector, the director did just to be safe and even then, it didn’t cost any money.

    I can’t figure out how a center would “get certified” to take cloth diapered babies much less how it would cost a few hundred!

  11. An update to my earlier comment…. this week I will start cloth diapering at day care! About a month after I posted that comment, the day care said they had decided they will let me use cloth, and were working on a written policy for cloth diapers (a written policy on handling cloth dipes is required by our state – Connecticut). Last month I was given a copy of the policy and have since been working on building my diaper stash. Now I’m ready to go! The basic requirements are that I supply an airtight disposal container for the diapers and take it home to sanitize daily, keep 2 days worth of cloth dipes there, and supply disposables for backup. Easy!

  12. My son uses cloth diapers, but his daycare does not. Only his home daycare would accept them, but we moved and I need a new location. I had offered to meet with the corporate office representative several times, but it never happened. I offered to bring in my supplies so we could come to a consensus on what would be best for the center. My idea was to provide a pail, lined with a plastic garbage bar, and to place each dirty diaper in an individual wet bag to toss into the larger plastic bag. Another ideas was to place the dirty diapers in a plastic bag and then into individual wet bags. Neither were accepted. The day care said they had a bad experience year ago and the smell was awful. They also said that they do not have toilets in the infant rooms to flush the waste. (Which means they never flush the waste from paper diapers, either.) I offered biodegradable paper liners so they could toss the waste. That idea was not accepted, either. They are definitely not interested in trying any of my ideas. After 3 months of back and forth emails, the answer was a definite no. I now spend waaay to much money on “green” paper diapers for my son to use at daycare. I am still searching for a cloth diapering daycare in my area that is also on my way to work! Thank you for having such a great site!

  13. Brandi Gower says

    I chose to use cloth diapers and when I was looking for a daycare my argument was what do they do with the clothing adn such of a child who is potty traning and has an accident? There’s no real difference between the 2. Thankfully I found a daycare willing to work with me, I provide the diapers, diaperpail and wetbags and everyone is happy 🙂

  14. I have worked in daycare for quite some time. The daycare that I used to work for didn’t allow cloth diapers for sanitation issues. Which I can understand. You have to look at it from the daycare’s perspective. If there are 12 children in the room and if 6 are using cloth diapers, that is 6 wet bags or pails in addition to the diaper pail/garbage can for the disposible diapers. That is alot of extra space that would be required. Most changing area’s just don’t have that kind of space available to them. As for the work involved, to me it didn’t make a difference. But for lots of staff I found their response was becuase they thought it was gross. The fact that they are dumping waste into the toilet was grossing them out. To be honest I see their point. It is gross, were as a disposible you aren’t dealing with that, you just wipe and roll up the diaper and toss it.
    Personally now that I own my own daycare, I’m not sure… I just today actually had a parent ask me if I allow cloth diapers. I told them that I would have to think about it and find out about regulations in my area. For me the child is in the process of potty training, so it really wouldn’t be that different. I think that I would require some sort of diaper pail though not just a wet bag.

    But I can see why bigger daycare’s don’t allow them. It really can be about space.
    It is great to hear other peoples comments though!!

  15. The daycare I work for does not knock poop into the toilet. And for potty-training they don’t even send home poopy underpants. The only time poopy underpants are sent home is if it’s minimal, like smears. But if there is a hunk of poop in the underwear it is covered with the 2 gloved being worn and chunked just like a diaper. For this reason, they do not take cloth diapers.

    This is a struggle for me cause I want to cloth diaper my unborn baby and I am debating about searching for an in-home sitter. There are 2 centers in my town and since I work for one it would be awkward to send them to one of the other 2.

  16. I’ve actually written a blog post about how to use cloth diapers at daycare centers and included some of the policies from the two daycare centers we used cloth diapers at:

    Our experience with cloth diapers at daycare has been awesome!! The teachers even like it and I think it’s a great way to get the word out about cloth. Other parents and staff see you using the diapers at daycare and are interested in knowing more.

  17. I had the same problem, I called at least 20 places before I found one. There aren’t any legal issues here, (Louisville Kentucky) people just wont use them. Maybe there aren’t many cloth diaper using mommas out here yet? The two places I did find had a long waiting list.

    Anyhow I recently found a place and they are super nice. It’s called genesis child development center. They were really supportive of breast feeding too. They even gave me a nice quiet place to nurse my little one when I came by at lunch one day. (I broke my pump at work and my boobs were just killing me!)

    Here’s their webpage:

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