9 Common Myths About Cloth Diapers | This West Coast Mommy
Cloth Diapering

9 Common Myths About Cloth Diapers

In all my years of cloth diapering and talking about cloth diapering, I’ve run into a lot of myths and misconceptions about cloth diapers. If you’re new to cloth diapering or you’re considering taking the plunge, you may have heard some of these and wondered. So today we’re going to talk about 9 of the most common cloth diaper myths and find out if they’re actually true or not.

1. Cloth diapers are too expensive!

FALSE. Unlike disposable diapers, cloth diapers only need to be purchased once and they’ll last through one, two, or even more children. Without the ongoing expense of disposable diapers, that investment will pay for itself pretty quickly. It’s true that the initial outlay may be harder to budget for, but like pretty much any consumer product, cloth diapers come in various price points. A premium hand-embroidered, custom-made diaper may be more than most families are willing or able to spend, but most diapers are significantly more middle-of-the-road, and others are surprisingly economical.

For families on a budget there are many affordable ways to cloth diaper. For example, cloth diaper prefolds start at $2-$3 apiece, and there’s a thriving second-hand market for cloth diapers. Check out this post for even more ways to get free or super cheap cloth diapers.

2. Cloth diapers are complicated and inconvenient.

FALSE. Modern cloth diapers have come a long way from the big squares of cloth, pins, and plastic pants of yesteryear. Depending on the style you choose, some of them are virtually indistinguishable from disposable diapers. And oh my goodness, they’re so much cuter!

3. Daycares won’t let you use cloth diapers.

IT DEPENDS. It’s true that some daycare providers may not, but many do, and there are definitely ways to make cloth diapering daycare-friendly. Easy one-step diapers, wet bags, and a little bit of advocacy (pdf) can win over a nervous daycare provider. There’s no harm in trying! Even if your daycare provider refuses to use cloth, that doesn’t mean you can’t cloth diaper the rest of the time. Which leads us to myth #4.

4. You have to choose between cloth or disposable diapers.

FALSE. Cloth diapering doesn’t need to be all or nothing. Lots of families use both cloth and disposables. Some may choose to use disposables at night, or in daycare, or when travelling, or when mom is sick. Every time you use a cloth diaper, you’re doing your part to keep a plastic and paper diaper out of the landfill.

5. You’ll have to touch poop!

TRUE. Okay, this one is true, but it’s not exclusive to cloth diapers. Sorry to break it to you, but poop is a function of babies whether you use cloth or disposable. You WILL be dealing with poop regardless. It’s actually illegal in most jurisdictions to put human waste into the garbage. It needs to be treated properly through your sewage treatment facility. And yes, that means that you’re supposed to dump and flush the poop from disposable diapers too.

6. Cloth diaper laundry is too much work.

FALSE. When you have a baby, you’re going to be doing laundry every day anyway. That extra two or three loads of cloth diaper laundry per week really don’t make much of a difference, and on the flip side, you’ll save time by skipping those late night trips to the drug store for disposable diapers when you unexpectedly run out. In the vast majority of situations, there’s no need to pre-treat or do anything special with your dirty diapers. In general, all you need is a pre-wash then a hot cycle with detergent (and you don’t need a special laundry detergent either). Your washing machine will do the work for you!

7. Cloth diapers aren’t really environmentally friendly.

FALSE. I’ve heard some people question whether cloth diapering is actually worse for the environment than disposable diapers. They claim that the additional water and energy needed to wash and dry cloth diapers creates a larger carbon footprint than the resources needed to produce, transport, and dispose of paper diapers.

While it’s true that both cloth diapers and disposables have a negative impact on the environment, high efficiency washing machines and dryers have dramatically reduced the water and electricity needed for diaper laundry. When you calculate the amount of raw materials involved in manufacturing 6000 or more disposable diapers from birth to potty training, and the sheer amount of trash that will sit in a landfill for 500+ years, cloth is the clear winner (pdf).

8. My baby’s clothes won’t fit.

IT DEPENDS. Cloth diapers come in differing levels of fluffiness, but in general cloth diapers do tend to add a little padding to the tush. In my book, bubble butt is a feature not a bug! Super skinny jeans may be out of the rotation, but you won’t be short of options. Think sleepers and bodysuits (Carter’s bodysuits are made with a little extra room in the bum), comfy leggings, harem pants, and adjustable jeans. Maxaloones are adjustable, stretchy pants made especially for fluffy bums. When it was warm, we often skipped the pants entirely and showed off our cutest diapers with a pair of baby leg warmers. Besides, that extra padding brings a little bonus. Babies just learning to walk get extra bum protection for those inevitable tumbles and stumbles.

9. Cloth diapering is just for hardcore hippie parents.

FALSE! Anybody can cloth diaper. Some choose cloth for environmental reasons, some for the cost savings, others for medical reasons. And remember, not everyone uses cloth full-time.

What other cloth diaper myths have you heard?

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6 Comments

  • Ha ha! I’ve had friends tell me they couldn’t use cloth diapers because they don’t want to touch poop and I’m like “What do you think parenting is?!?”

    • This is the most common one I’ve heard too – we told a friend and he was like “be prepared to be touching lots of poop!” Of course these comments always come from people who have never tried cloth and it’s not like using disposables means poop-free. It’s just part of having a baby! I’ve heard the horror stories about leaking disposable diapers running down an unsuspecting parent’s arm.

  • We had someone notice out 17 mos. olds fluffy butt at the Dr. office the other day & they really wanted to know why we chose to cloth diaper. One of our reasons we told them was he had NEVER had a diaper rash even though he has sensitive skin & we didn’t want chemicals touching his skin 24/7/365. They were shocked. Most people seem to be afraid of the laundry & what to do about the poop.

  • One I’ve heard is that you have to dunk & swish…nope… diaper sprayers are worth their weight in gold! Another one is that you put poop in your washer…nope…EBF poo is water solvent & you spray the other kind off first!

  • Here I am at 63 years old wondering how the subject of diapers got so complicated. When I had my children, I admit that I didn’t consider the environmental impact of disposable diapers. It was simply the money. I didn’t even have disposables for camping. Just washed them there. I was fortunate enough not to have to work outside the home when my children were young. There has been a big change on that subject and I can appreciate the need to make it easier. The biggest chuckle that I get is the POOP issue. Ya, babies poop. You drop it in the toilet and rinse if necessary. Let’s not be so squeamish. Why do you think you wash your hands well after YOU poop? One of the gifts that I received when I had my first child was a bar of nice smelly soap. Didn’t take me long to figure that one out LOL