Why Don’t You Use Cloth Diapers?

We have a lot of self-professed cloth diaper fanatics on this site. Lurking in the background are those who . . . prepare yourselves for a shock . . . USE DISPOSABLES! Considering that 90% of the population uses them, we shouldn’t be so surprised. But today’s Friday question allows the disposable diaper users to come out of the woodwork. Why don’t you use cloth diapers? Is it the convenience factor? Aversion to disgusting laundry? Or something else?


  1. Daughter is in daycare full-time. They wouldn’t do cloth. If there’s a baby #2 one day, we’ll definitely do cloth for the 3 months while I’d be on maternity leave. After that, the theoretical baby would be in daycare too. (So sad!)

  2. I switched to cloth when my first child was one year old. I can tell you why previously I never considered cloth.

    –Everybody’s doing it. Everyone I knew (except one sister in a different state) used disposables. They give you disposables in the hospital. People give you disposables at showers. I didn’t really think about using cloth until I became more conscientious about chemicals, etc.

    –Grossness: my sister used cloth and toilet dunked and that really grossed me out. Even today, I NEVER volunteer to change a kid’s diaper.

    –I had read that the environmental impact flor cloth and disposables was equivalent

    –I had a crappy washer/dryer until in the center of my house that made tons of noise and I did laundry as seldom as possible

    –Effort: there is a learning curve for doing any new thing and it took a while for me to want to figure out the whole cloth thing

  3. We don’t use cloth for a few reasons. i would like to, but it just did not seem practical with both parents working full-time outside the home. I know it’s possible to find daycares that will do cloth, but we did not have any luck with that. It didn’t seem worth the up-front investment to have him in cloth only 50% of the time at most. We also have a (very old) septic system and well and I am very conscious of our water consumption. As it is it’s gone way up just with having a baby – it would be way more if we were doing cloth diapers too.

  4. Even though we live as eco-friendly as possible, cloth nappies were never an option for us. We have a few friends who did it (some only for a while) and a few friends who always used disposables. So, examples on both sides.

    I never used cloth because of the amount of washing involved. We don’t have a yard or garden where I could line dry and indoors it always takes two days for washing to dry (three is even better). Also, the amount of water used just does not seem right to me.

    Of course, it is also convenience. I used cloth on my friends babies a few times and helped them fold. No fun.

    Also, the nursery where my son is, does not accept any cloth nappies.

    And yes, I don’t find it very appealing having to wash soiled nappies.

    But the one thing that keeps my concience clean is the fact that I would indeed tumble dry the cloth nappies to make them softer. This would be much worse for the environment than using disposables.

    I feel strongly about living green and our family has improved in many areas over the past few years but nappies are one thing where I won’t change my way of doing it even if others might consider me BAD!


  5. another Josh says

    We have ever intention on switching to cloth. We looked into it before he was born in January, but with all the other preparations going into having a first kid, the decision on what cloth diapers to use (man, there are a lot of choices) got put off. After he came home, various other issues have come up, like postpartum anxiety (not depression, thankfully, but still plenty to deal with), daycare, and just general life adjustment.

    Cloth diapers are still on the list of things to figure out, we hope to get to that soon.

  6. I like to think that #2 will be in cloth diapers when he/she comes along, but right now it’s disposables. We live in an apartment with shared laundry facilities and I just don’t feel comfortable washing poopy diapers in a machine that someone else was going to use later. Of course she had plenty of poopy clothes at the beginning, but I did do a good rinse on those, and it didn’t seem like as much of a load as diapers would be. I like to think that in the future, when we move, we might have an in-house washer and it won’t be such a thing, but who knows? I admit it makes me sick thinking of those diapers sitting in the landfill, never decaying, along with every plastic bag or bit of plastic wrap or other unrecyclable waste that I use out of convenience. I think trying to be as green as possible just ends up causing you even more guilt than just motherhood alone! But that doesn’t mean I’m going to stop doing what I do, or stop trying to cut down on my waste as much as I can.

  7. We used cloth for a few days but it gave our son a horrible rash. As soon as we went back to Nature Babycare the rash cleared right up and has never come back.

  8. I know this is for disposables users, but I wanted to put in my 2 cents. We used cloth from the start and I never did it for the environment.

    A lot of people balk about it being worse for the environment if you do a lot of rinses, use the dryer, etc. but for us, frankly, we could care less about the earth.

    Although, now, I feel like what we do is better because we plan to have several kids and they will all use them. We also are starting potty training early so it lessens the years of washing to hopefully about 18 months.

    But our reasons are health-related. I honestly believe that disposables are not healthy. They do not keep your child any cleaner than cloth and in fact I know many disposable-using parents who tend to change their babies far less often because of the mistaken belief that “dry” = “clean” and they only change when dirty or “full”. This grosses me out (and I do realize that most disposable-using parents are better about changes than that!), but the chemicals and perfumes and all that are just flat out bad for babies. There are no two ways around it. When we used a few disposables here and there in the early months, my son always broke out in horrible rashes that took sometimes weeks to clear up. In cloth, his skin is healthy.

    When we do use them, we use only chlorine-free, perfume-free, dye-free and latex-free disposables. I encourage parents I know to at least switch to a better disposable. Cloth isn’t for everyone, but we can all do better than Huggies and Pampers.

  9. I just switched to cloth but have been using disposables for almost 2 years. My excuses were as follows: Lived in an apartment with shared laundry facilities that were almost always non-functional when our first was a baby. By the time we lived in a place with our own washing machine I was pregnant again and too nauseous to even think about dealing with poop dunking or scraping. Now I’m over it and have made the switch and it’s totally fine.

  10. Sabrina Ahmed says

    I applaud all of the other Green mom’s who have made the sometimes irritating switch to disposable diapers. It’s people like us who realize that not only are organic and reusable products healthier for our children, but they are also better for the environment. It only takes changing one or two small behaviors in our daily lives to really create that positive environmental impact we are all hoping to make.

    I believe that as a Green mom, when I find a resource that I believe to be truly helpful that It is my responsibility to pay it forward and share. I was blog hopping the other day and came across a site http://www.greeneutopia.com the site was an excellent source of information full of new and interesting ways to reduce our carbon foot print. They also had a very user friendly Green home products store. Everything seemed very family affordable (which important as my family is on a strict budget.) I ordered a cute little rain barrel, which I am sure will help lower my water bill! I’m excited, even though it won’t be here until next week!

    Good Luck!

  11. Convenience and lack of a role model are probably my two biggest excuses. Just having a baby seemed like such a huge learning curve at the time. I’m really not sure whether my husband would have gone along with cloth diapers.

    The other reason is the same reason why I use disposable feminine hygeine products: the squick factor. I don’t want to deal with gross bodily output, I just want to package it up and get it out of the house.

    I am curious how many moms who use cloth diapers also use reusable pads for their monthly cycles?

  12. Definitely more OK with my baby’s poop than my monthly cycle. I use cloth diapers and am not sure I will EVER use reusable pads.

  13. I live in Australia where we have water restrictions due to drought, and a rainwater rank would be useless because it rarely rains. So washing cloth diapers is not really an option thus I only use disposable diapers.

  14. I haven’t had a period since my first daughter was born, but I have heard so many great things about the reusable product called The Keeper that I plan on giving it a shot whenever my cycle returns.

  15. We used disposables for the first thirteen months with my son. I promised myself to look into products like the keeper or diva cup to compensate. I am very happy with the keeper, however there is a learning curve. I’ve found it works best for me along with a cloth pad. I recommend Party in my Pants (pimps). I am so much happier with reusable menstrual products–I never run out, the keeper can be worn longer than tampons, and I never have the rashes I used to get with disposable maxi pads. The ick factor is much lower than diapers, in my opinion (we used cloth all the way for our second and third babies, so I have ample experience to compare).

  16. @ Larisa I use the Diva cup and it’s worked out pretty well I have some anatomical anomolies that cause it to leak a bit but I have friends that use it and don’t need any form of back up. With it I only have to use pantyliners and I really should investigate the reuasable ones.

    I didn’t use cloth with my first because I just didn’t know any better. I made the switch when my second was 4 months old and I’d had to start buying diapers once our gift supply ran out. I was too cheap with a hubby in school and 2 kids to keep throwing money away on diapers. It has been a huge money saver for us.

  17. We used Pampers and Huggies on our 1st son until he was 6 months old. from the start, he hated disposables with a passion, always kicking and pushing them away and crying as well whenever I would attempt to put a new diaper on him. Now, a year on from switching to cloth, he is much happier and we have saved so much money. My husband wants to use disposables for the first week or so after our new baby is born in March. I do not like the idea, but if we request Seventh Generation ones for the baby shower, it will be fine. also, the birthing center where I gave birth to my first child and will be using again for this one, only gives out hypoalergenic perfume free newborn disposable diaper samples for us mamas to use as icepacks for post pardom use, not for the babies to wear. this birthing center encourages the use of cloth diapers. and yes, I do use reusable menstrual pads as well. Love em! much better than irritating disposable pads.

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