A friend of mine requested a post on cloth diapers. Because disposable diapers are still the norm, there is a lot of misinformation out there about using cloth diapers. So I thought instead of doing one post about cloth diapering, that I would do a series on the topic.
For the next few Fridays I will post about different aspects of cloth diapering. Today’s post is on the “ew” factor. Cloth diapers are not gross, but a lot of people do still believe that using them is dirty and unsanitary. If you are thinking about going with cloth diapers for your little one, then you will definitely want to follow this series (see also the “further reading” list).
While cloth diapering is becoming more mainstream, many parents still resist this option. If you believe that using cloth diapers means dunking poop in the toilet, an overwhelming stink and germs everywhere, then you are mistaken. Cloth diapers today are so much better designed than they were in the past. This means that a lot of things parents used to have to do to clean cloth diapers is now obsolete.
Here are the top three questions I am asked about cloth diapering that fall in the “ew factor” category, and the truth behind the myth of the dirty, stinky cloth diaper.
Ew #1: Don’t You Have to Dunk the Diaper in the Toilet?
Well, actually, no. If your little one is breastfeeding exclusively, then her/his poop will be water-soluble. If your child drinks formula or when she/he begins eating solids, then her/his poop will no longer be water-soluble. However, you still won’t need to dunk diapers in the toilet. Anything solid can be dropped into the toilet and flushed away (thank you gravity!), and anything squishy will come out in the wash.
Most people use a wet bucket (a garbage can with some water and natural detergent) for soaking/stain prevention. Then you simply tip the entire contents of the wet bucket (water and all) into the washing machine. We use a washable wet bag for Little Man’s dirty diapers that we empty into the washing machine. And (gasp) I don’t even bother soaking them before they are laundered.
Ew #2: Don’t Dirty Cloth Diapers Smell Bad?
Cloth diapers can begin to smell bad after a lot of use if they have soap buildup or chemical residue on them, in which case they will need to be stripped properly. After a year of cloth diapering Little Man, I still have never run into this problem, though. There is always a twang when Little Man goes poop, regardless of whether it is in a disposable or cloth diaper. However, the smell is generally no better or worse in a cloth diaper.
You may find that disposable diapers are extra stinky the odd time that your little one manages a poop that shoots up and out the back of the diaper (something that rarely happens in cloth diapers due to their design). Also, disposable diapers often have a bit of a weird chemical smell when there is a lot of pee inside (e.g. when disposable diapers are worn overnight).
Ew #3: Isn’t it Unsanitary to Reuse Diapers?
Is it unsanitary to wash and reuse your underwear? As with any dirty clothing, proper washing and drying will ensure that cloth diapers are sanitary. Some parents fall in the trap of believing that disposable diapers are more sanitary because they feel “dry” even when they are soiled. In my opinion, sitting in a soiled diaper is far more unsanitary than wearing a properly laundered cloth diaper.
In order to clean diapers properly, it is recommended that you use a natural soap (with as few additives as possible) and wash the diapers on hot. Fabric softener and dryer sheets are a definite no-no as they leave residue on diapers. You should have enough diapers that you are going a maximum of three days between washes (at least 24 diapers).
There you have it, a few stinky mysteries solved. What do you think? Are cloth diapers great or gross? I would love to hear your thoughts on the topic. Thanks for reading today. Stay tuned next Friday for a rundown of the many different types of cloth diapers available.
Diaperpin.com (1999) The Top Ten Myths About Cloth Diapering. [online] Available at: http://www.diaperpin.com/clothdiapers/article_toptenmyths.asp [Accessed: 27 Apr 2012].
Etsyclothdiapers.com (2008) Etsy Cloth Diapers : Laundry Tips. [online] Available at: http://www.etsyclothdiapers.com/index.php?page=laundry_tips [Accessed: 27 Apr 2012].
Etsyclothdiapers.com (2008) Etsy Cloth Diapers : Myths and Complaints. [online] Available at: http://www.etsyclothdiapers.com/index.php?page=myths_and_complaints [Accessed: 27 Apr 2012].