Cragmama "Not all who wander are lost…" JRR Tolkien

In Praise of Cloth

In my last Cragbaby post, I mentioned that our family uses cloth diapers.  I’ve received a few questions about it and decided there was enough interest to warrant a separate blog post.  It is something that I felt pretty strongly about before C was even born, but now that we’ve survived a full year almost completely disposable-free (except for the first week before the cord fell off and a time or two at the doctor when I forgot an extra…), I feel even more passionate about the merits of cloth.  But why on earth would anyone choose cloth over the “convenience” of disposables? Isn’t it really expensive?  Doesn’t it get too complicated?  And the million dollar question that everyone has of course – what do you do with the poop?!?  If you’ve ever wondered about the answers to any of these questions, then read on – this post is for you! For the record, by no means is this post intended to pass judgment on those that don’t choose to go this route – the majority of my friends use dispsosables, and they are great parents and are doing what works for their family!

Not to mention that cloth diapers are way more stylin’ than disposables…

Why choose cloth?  The benefits are many – it’s better for the environment, healthier for baby, and saves a ton of money!  Here are just a few interesting stats from the Real Diaper Association (for more stats, click here).

Better for EnvironmentDisposable diapers generate sixty times more solid waste and use twenty times more raw materials, like crude oil and wood pulp.
Healthier for Baby – Disposable diapers contain traces of Dioxin, an extremely toxic by-product of the paper-bleaching process. It is a carcinogenic chemical, listed by the EPA as the most toxic of all cancer-linked chemicals. It is banned in most countries, but not the U.S.
Saves a Ton of Money – The average child costs about $1600 to diaper for 2 years – as opposed to getting out for around $300-$500 using cloth (which can then be used on the next kid as well!)



Cragbaby rockin’ the cloth at his 2 month check-up



How does it work?  There are tons of options here, and it seems like everyone develops their own system that works for them.  The most expensive options (all-in-ones and pocket diapers) are as simple to put on as a regular disposable diaper.  The more basic options require a couple of extra steps but are a lot cheaper.  Click here to learn about the different types of diapers available nowadays. We use a combination of both – prefolds and covers around the house, pockets and fitteds when we are out and about.  It’s pretty simple, really.  We have a waterproof bag that hangs in the closet – that’s where the dirty diapers go.   For wet diapers, you just put them in the bag, as is.  For code browns, it depends on the age of the baby – breastmilk is water-soluble, so before baby starts solids, you just dump the diapers in the bag right along with the wet ones.  Once baby starts consistently eating a lot of solids, you’ve got to get rid of the poop before you put it in the bag.  Again, there are a few ways to do this.  A lot of times the poo just kinda “rolls” off the diaper into the toilet without any extra work.  For the mushy ones (sorry to be so graphic…) we either scrape it off with toilet paper or a designated wooden spoon that we can then rinse off and store with the plunger and other gross toilet-y things.   Some folks like to use a diaper sprayer that you can attach to your toilet, but that seemed a little over the top for our tastes.   When its time to do laundry, just dump everything out directly into the washer, turning the bag inside out and throwing it in the wash as well.  Easy peasy, right?  I don’t feel like we end up with poo on our hands any more than my friends that use disposables.

Another little known fact – did you know that the instructions on a disposable diaper package advise that all fecal matter should be deposited in the toilet before discarding?  Not that any law enforcement officers are going around inspecting dirty diapers in the landfill, but its worth mentioning that in many states its actually illegal to dispose of human waste in a manner that doesn’t allow it to be treated in the sewage system!

C posing with a one-size cover at only 2 weeks old…

…and in the same cover at 12 months!

What do you need? 

  • Diapers – Decide how often you want to do laundry, and then by accordingly.  When C was a newborn, we went through 10-12 diapers a day, now we use about 6 or 7.  We have around two dozen diapers (mostly prefolds, but with a few fitteds and a couple of pockets), and this lets us wash every 2 or 3 days, and gives us some extra allowance in case I forget to move the dipes to the dryer…
  • Covers – If you are using prefolds or fitteds, you’ll need a waterproof cover.  You don’t have to wash these every time you use them (unless they get poop on them, of course!).  We rotate between 4 or 5 covers.
  • Wet Bags – We have two big ones that hang in the closet, that way we have one to use while the other is in the wash.  We have smaller versions that fit in a diaper bag for on-the-go changes.  Again, when it’s time to wash, the whole bag goes in, so you don’t have to touch anything but the outside of the bags.
  • Snappies – I so wish I was the person that invented these little babies!  Now instead of fiddling around with pins and bare, squirmy baby legs, just use this nifty little trickto secure your diapers!  I’d advise that you have several of them – they are cheap, but also easy to misplace…
  • Diaper Soap – You can’t use detergent that leaves any sort of residue or chemicals behind, otherwise these will build up in the diaper, which will cause them to be less absorbent over time.  We prefer Charlie’s Soap – a little goes a long way and it’s very reasonably priced.

As you can tell, I’m pretty passionate about cloth diapering!  There are probably a million more posts where this one came from on more specific topics (nighttime diapering, brand reviews, swim options, etc), but hopefully this was a good introduction to those of you that had questions about cloth!


6 Responses to “In Praise of Cloth”

  1. RT @EricaLineberry: New blog post – In Praise of #ClothDiapers @RealDiapers @clothdiapermom #naturalliving


  2. Cloth diaper have always worked for us, and with th enew innovations (like no diaper pins), they are a very reasonable alternative to disposables now. Thanks for posting this information, because in view of the environmental issues AND the expense, I think cloth diapers definitely deserve a second look!


  3. christie

    thanks erica, this is a great post! The hubby is going to have to read this 🙂 Ive argued with him (when we have a kid) about cloth diapers and this provides alot of insight. Now what do you do with the poo when its a total explosion, where it soaks into the cloth? Do you use a special detergent?


  4. @Christie – We’ve never had any of the poop escape out of the diaper except for for a couple of times in the early weeks – and that was b/c Steve or I had put the diaper on wrong…No special detergent needed though – today’s washing machines are tough enough to handle it! You might end up with some staining, but the stains come right out if you put the dipes in the sun for an afternoon. 🙂


  5. Brandy Walters

    I wanted to go with cloth diapers. I did a lot of research but in the end couldn’t figure out which type/brand to buy and ended up with disposables again. I would love to know which brands you tried! Were you able to buy any of them used (would you consider that?) Have you heard of Soap Nuts? Would that be an acceptable soap?


  6. Jill

    really liked the post!! we did end up going (mostly) cloth, and even convinced the daycare to use them! 🙂


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“Not all who wander are lost.” —JRR TOLKIEN