Cloth Diapers vs. Disposables
“I was afraid of the smell and the grossness factor of poopy diapers”. I have heard this as the reason cloth diapers are not used, by a friend. Yes it would smell if you did not tend to the diapers by rinsing the diaper in the toilet then placing them in a pail. “My cloth-diaper pail, with water and vinegar in it, didn’t smell nearly as bad as the garbage can full of [disposable C] diapers (Shawna Cummings)”.
WHY Use Cloth Diapers?
For starters…consider the contents of the manufactured disposable diaper. They are made with plastics (a petroleum-based product); most brands are bleached and so would contain trace amounts of dioxin. Dioxin is a carcinogenic (cancer-producing), by product of the paper-bleaching process. Jay Bolus states that ‘Dioxins can be toxic and persistent, stick around in the environment for a long time, and accumulate in our bodies (, 58)’; they do not biodegrade easily and are persistent in leaking toxins into the soil.
Dioxins are the stuff that is stuck against your baby’s bottom, tossed in the trash and then ends up in landfills. Not only do you expose your precious child to toxins, but the diaper ends up in the soil contaminating the soil for literally generations to come!
Then there is another factor: use of natural resources and the costs for replenishing the environment and clean-up. In Sweden the conclusion was reached that “plastic diapers use three times as many natural resources as cloth (Margulis, 58).
The use of plastics in the disposable diapers also exposes infants and young children to contained heat. It is bad enough for female children, but the males wind up with exposures to heat on the genitals. The male genitals are outside the body for a reason, in order to keep them cooler than the body (98.6 degrees). Obviously the heat contained cannot be healthy for a male enfant!
Cloth for Diapers
The first and foremost reason to use cloth is: NO Dioxins! When washed with natural soaps, the cloth diaper is the gentler choice. The chances of diaper rash or allergy reactions from cloth diaper use are diminished if laundered correctly.
Also, please consider the use of wash cloths instead disposable wipes. Disposable wipes are also manufactured with petroleum-based materials.
Cloth diapers are now made with a variety of materials. These materials are cotton, flannel, bamboo, and hemp. Use cloth that has not been bleached, and your baby’s bottom will thank you!
You can buy cotton diapers with no form-fitting features, or diapers that are form fitting that would need large diaper pins to keep them on baby.
You can also buy them with special fabric called “PUL” sewn on the inner layer, with closures made of Velcro or snaps. Some diapers have a removable “refill” insert. Even these should be made of natural materials.
“Wet bags” are excellent for keeping soiled diapers from keeping the house or room from smelling. You can wash the bag itself every other time you wash the diapers. I would recommend the use of white vinegar in the pre-wash for odors.
If you decide to use cloth diapers, two wet bags are what I would suggest, a larger wet bag for general use around the house, and a smaller one for when you are running around town or visiting a friend. The small wet bag should be large enough to hold 2-4 diapers.
~Image is from Leslie’s Boutique Wet Bags
For cleaning the cloth diaper, consider mild soaps (preferably biodegradable if using a washer at home) and no bleach. You can purchase non-scented types of soap or scented. Non-scented is less likely to cause allergic reactions. To assist with softening and whitening cloth diapers I would recommend the use of household-grade washing soda, and hanging them on a cloths-line outside (sunlight and air are wonderful for any diaper any day).
Where Are the Cloth Diapers Sold?
Target sells regular diapers and pre-folds, as well as diaper pins
A few sites online are:
http://cottonbabies.com Cotton Babies
If you want to make your own:
http://naturesfabrics.com Natures Fabrics [See: diaper pattern hand-out]
Join a forum to learn more: Diaper Sewing ‘N More https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/Diaper_Sewing_N_More/inf
See my pinterest post at: Make your own cloth diapers
Mothering Magazine. No. 160 May-June 2010. The Diaper Dilemma. Jennifer Margulis.
Real Diaper Association http://realdiaperassociation.com